Robert P. Hudgens
Bob Hudgens is a nationally recognized leader in civil aviation! Born in 1915 in
Luverne, Alabama, Hudgens' love of flying began at age 15, shortly after hiss family
moved to Birmingham. He worked at a drug store, located near final approach to the
city's municipal airport. He marveled at the activities of the local air national guard
squadron and thrilled when there were airshows featuring pilots like "Jimmy"
Doolittle or Birmingham's own Glenn Messer. Hudgens enlisted in the US Army Reserve
Corps in mid-1942. He was soon flying the Piper J-3 Cub and Waco UPF-7 in
primary training at Auburn, Alabama. In August 1943, he began flight instructor training
in Griffin, Georgia.
He went on to instruct at fields in Mississippi and Tennessee until
called to active duty in 1944. He volunteered to fly gliders, received advanced training
in Lubbock, Texas, and, then in early 1945, was assigned to the 810th Army Air Force
Base Unit in Maxton, North Carolina. He flew the Waco CG-4A and went on to instruct in
Missouri until discharged in late September 1945. On 12 October 1945, Hudgens co-founded
Montgomery Aviation with Charles Womack. The corporation, with three Piper Cubs
and a used Taylorcraft, operated from a grass strip a few miles south of the city.
Dannelly Field opened in 1946 as the city's muncipal airport, Hudgens relocated.
Montgomery Aviation sold aviation fuel, provided aircraft maintenance, flew charters,
conducted flight training, sold aircraft and, in 1947, was one of the first firms in the
nation to rent cars at an airport. Hudgens guided the company as it expanded to
Huntsville and Birmingham. Under his leadership, Montgomery Aviation has received the
"Outstanding Member Award" from the National Air Taxi Conference; the "
Outstanding Service Award" by the National Aviation Trades Association; and a
"Commendation Certificate for Outstanding Service to Business Aviation" from
the National Business Aircraft Association.
Hudgens is not only a leader in civil
aviation; he is a community leader. He has served as president or chairman of the
Montgomery Chapter of the Air Force Association, Montgomery Rotary Club, and the
Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. At the state level, he led the Alabama Air Service
Operators and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1986, Hudgens was inducted into the
Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and honored with a portrait-plaque cast in aluminum that
hangs in the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham-not far from where his love affair
with flight began. At age 85, he serves as Chairman of the company and is at his desk
every workday, but has passed many of his duties on to his son, Bill, one of his two
children with his wife, Martha.
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At the end of World War II, "Bob" Hudgens knew his future lay in civil
aviation. Two weeks after his discharge, he co-founded Montgomery Aviation.
With four fabric covered two-place trainers and other assets totaling just
$15,000, he began operations from a cow pasture on the Hall Brothers Dairy
Farm. Hudgens was an innovator and foresaw the dramatic emergence of civil
aviation in coming years. Montgomery Aviation grew under his guidance and,
today, holds the honor of being "the oldest fixed-base operation in Alabama."