April 27, 2011 - William "Bill" Kennedy

Bill Kennedy says as long as he can remember, he's always wanted to fly.

"Oh, I wanted to be a pilot since I was a little kid," said Kennedy. "I used to build model airplanes while I was still in school.  I had a few hours of flying time before I went into the service."

So it was no surprise when he qualified for the U.S. Army's Flying Air Corps during the late days of World War Two.  Kennedy flew gasoline and other supplies to servicemen after the Burma Road was closed by the Japanese.  He remembers almost losing a crew member when a radio operator opened the wrong door of the aircraft while in flight.

"He opened it and when he did, the suction of the airplane threw the thing open and he was still holding onto it with his hands.  This poor guy was stretched out over 10,000 feet of space looking down at the mountains, hanging onto that door.  Between two of us, we pulled the guy back in and when he got the door back, he latched it."

After the war, Kennedy became involved in the new procedure of planting rice by crop duster.

"They had been spraying dust on cotton for years.  That's how they came up with the term "crop dusting."  Then it stuck with everything else.  Yeah, I was one of the very first to plant rice by air.  And one of the only ones left."

Bill Kennedy was also a pilot for the Zigler family in Jennings.

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