There are and have been many exceptional pilots in the world. And a majority of those are unsung heroes. One who deserves more celebrity than he received while still on this earth is Albert “Jay” Shower Jr. who passed away over the weekend.
Shower’s aviation career spanned over 70 years. He flew as a Navy pilot from 1961 to 1983, where he flew every jet in the Navy inventory during his tenure, including the Mach 2-capable RA-5 Vigilante. While serving in the Vietnam War, Shower flew 137 missions in the A-4 Skyhawk off the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier.
After the war, Shower earned his Masters degree in Aeronautical Engineering while flying the T-2, T-28, T-33, T-34 and S2F. Once retired from his Navy career, Shower bought a Beechcraft Bonanza, which he flew around the world. While working as a ferry pilot, Shower flew multiple cross-oceanic flights both east and west of the United States and crossed the equator on many occasions.
In 1995, Shower won the Gold Medal in the T-28 Unlimited Division at the Phoenix 500 Air Races. Shower accumulated a total of more than 18,000 hours of flight time. In 2009, he received the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in recognition of his achievements in both military and civil aviation. “In my 30 years of flying, Jay Shower is the most experienced, knowledgeable and impressive pilot I have ever met,” said fellow pilot George “Jud” Schandel.
In addition to his exceptional piloting skills, which he passed on through his single- and multi-engine instrument instructor ratings, Shower was a certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic with inspector authorization (IA).
Jay Shower first controlled an airplane, a B-29 Superfortress nonetheless, in 1947 on his 10th birthday with his father Colonel Albert Joseph Shower – an Air Force pilot whose missions saw great success in WWII. He will be laid to rest next to his father and mother, Damaris Smith Shower, at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.