ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – For many, the thought of being 92 years old would be relaxing at home, spending time with the grands. However, for Doctor. Jack Ramsey, his spirit of adventure is alive and well, as he took the skies one last time on his birthday.
Arriving at Abilene Aero Thursday morning as the sun began to rise was Dr. Jack Ramsey. A lifelong Abilenian, Dr. Ramsey was certified in diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology, and last worked with Hendrick Medical Center in 2021.
He pulled up on his black Harley Davidson motorcycle, Top Gun aviator-style sunglasses and full of life as he power-walked to his plane. Immediately, Dr. Ramsey threw open the hood and began checking the oil levels like it was second nature- like riding a bike for anyone else.
It wasn’t like second nature, it is second nature.
In 1961, Ramsey received his pilot’s license through the United States Air Force, traveling across the world from the Cayman Islands to Puerto Rico and all four corners of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
He garnered enough knowledge and prowess behind the steering wheel of a plane to become a certified flight instructor for not only single engine planes, but also multi-engine vessels, as well.
As he hopped into the cockpit Thursday morning, in the back of his mind he knew it may be his last time flying solo.
“I’m not ready to concede that as my final flight,” Dr. Ramsey said with a smile, “But it is my first flight on my 92nd birthday.”
Just shy of 10,000 hours of flying experience, you could say Dr. Jack Ramsey is a professional when it comes to aviation, but it didn’t start with him.
It began in the early-1900’s, when his uncle and well-known Abilene dentist, Wayne “M.T.” Ramsey, began developing the first airport in Abilene.
Located where the Abilene Zoo parking lot is now, that first dirt runway was the beginning of aviation exploration in the Key City. It later became Kinsolving Field, hosting the likes of Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis in 1927, as well seeing the great Amelia Earhart crash landing in 1931.
That love for aviation and piloting runs in the Ramsey blood, and Dr. Ramsey passed that down through his relatives.
Ramsey’s wife learned to fly because of Jack. Described as an antsy woman by their son, Wayne “Chap” Ramsey, she took their daughter on a solo trip to the Bahamas for a graduation gift.
In total, there are roughly 7 to 10 Ramseys involved in aviation in some capacity, even passing the interest down to Jack’s grandchildren, who have the coolest stories to take back to school after every summer break.
Chap Ramsey is a professional pilot himself, working with Abilene Aero, but credits all of that interest to his father.
We share that common love of aviation,” Chap said. “It shaped my whole life.”
Sitting back at his desk, Chap recalled his favorite memories flying with his father vividly, as the joy took his face from an ear-to-ear smile.
He remembers flying to the Bahamas with his father, stopping in Florida, and said the view from their aircraft was unlike anything he’d ever seen.
“The most fun we’ve had flying is when we flew down to the Bahamas and we fly out over Florida. Once you leave the state of Florida, you fly over the turquoise water of the Caribbean,” Chap said. “That’s just exciting to see from your own airplane, to look down and see the little islands. Both he and I really got into that.”
Not only did they experience the tropical regions together, Chap also said his most memorable and enjoyable trips were his father’s doctor’s visits to small towns across West Texas, some without airports.
“We went to a town called Goldthwaite, and this farmer had a crop dusting strip,” Chap recalled. “We took the airplane and landed it on that rough, dirty strip, pulled off and he [farmer] gave us his dune buggy to take to the hospital. That was his donation, the dune buggy. I remember it had a flag on it, so we’d go driving down this town in a dune buggy to see patients in the hospital.”
Now 92 years young, Dr. Ramsey knows it’s going to be tough decision to give up his adventurous lifestyle, and already has some family members asking when he’s going to give it up.
“I’ve got my Harley out there and my plane out there, and my number three son says I’ve got to give them all up.” Dr. Ramsey said jokingly. “He’s sort of bossy, and I’m not going to pay him to much attention.”
Dr. Ramsey told KTAB/KRBC if this were to be his last flight, he has lived a blessed, full life and it’s been the best life he could’ve asked for.