Original Blue Angel pilot dies at age 86
From Larry Shaughnessy
Voris in an undated file photograph.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A man whose pioneering flying career with the U.S. Navy began in the age of biplanes and ended in the jet age has died. Retired Navy Capt. Roy "Butch" Voris, an original Blue Angel, died at his home in Monterey, California. He was 86.
Voris began his naval aviation career flying biplanes, and by the end of World War II, he had shot down at least eight Japanese fighter planes, earning himself the status of an "ace," as well as three Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Purple Heart and more than a dozen other medals.
In 1946, Adm. Chester Nimitz hand-picked Voris to organize a flight demonstration team to showcase naval aviation. He led the newly named "Blue Angels" in their first public performance that year in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1952, he once again was asked to lead the Blue Angels after they returned from combat duty in the Korean War.
He retired from the Navy as a captain and went to work with Grumman Aircraft Corporation, where he was instrumental in the early development of the F-14 Tomcat, which is still a key part of naval aviation.
His last career was as a spokesman for NASA during the historic 1970 Apollo moon missions.
Voris died on Wednesday.
He is survived by two daughters, their husbands and three grandsons. He is also survived by two brothers. His wife, Thea, passed away in 2003 after more than 50 years of marriage.
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