James (“Jim”) Abbott McCulley
Lt. Colonel U.S. Air Force (Retired)
Jim McCulley passed away peacefully with his family at his side on April 28, 2019. Jim was an active pilot for more than 60 years, first as an Air Force fighter pilot and later in private aviation. He was married for 51 years to Rosalind Coleman McCulley, who preceded him in death in December, 2012. Jim was born in Alexandria, LA, to James Hulen McCulley and Carolyn Dean McCulley. His older sister, Doris McCulley Blackburn of Tuscumbia, AL, preceded him in death in January, 2007.
Jim is survived by his three daughters—Carolyn McCulley of Falls Church, VA; Alice Barber and her husband, Frederick, of Copper Canyon, TX; and Elizabeth Oman and her husband, Andrew, of Fairfax, VA. He is also survived by nine nieces and nephews, as well as six grandchildren: Natalie, Patrick and Matthew Oman; and Claire, Stephanie, and Abigail Barber.
Jim graduated from Texas A&M with a mechanical engineering degree in 1949 and immediately entered the U.S. Air Force as one of the earliest jet fighter pilots. During the Korean War, he flew 100 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre jet, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and seven Air Medals. Later, he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and was then assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, to support the Bomarc supersonic interceptor missile program. In 1964, Jim was assigned to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to provide engineering support during the Gemini and Apollo space programs. A year later, he was assigned to the Pentagon office of Manned Orbital Laboratory Program (MOL), working on the highly classified side of the MOL program to develop a space-based reconnaissance satellite. After retiring from the Air Force, Jim worked in a variety of engineering positions until his second retirement from Pepco in 1991.
In 1984, the family moved to Warrenton, VA, and soon Jim became a licensed glider/sailplane owner and a tow pilot and one of the original board of directors of the Skyline Soaring Club of Front Royal, VA. He was also a radio-controlled model airplane flyer. In 1995, he acquired a Wittman Tailwind airplane that he modified and flew until his early ‘80s.
He will be remembered as a loving father and grandfather with a great sense of humor and an engineer’s passion to modify everything.
The family will receive visitors at Moser Funeral Home on Sunday evening, May 19th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Funeral services will be held at Moser Funeral Home on Monday, May 20th at 10 am. The burial service with full military honors will be held at Culpeper National Cemetery at 2:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that tribute donations be made to the American Heart Association or the Veterans Airlift Command.