Billy Hulse has died, and so ends an era.
Billy’s father, Frank Hulse, built an aviation empire which grew even larger under Billy’s direction. Frank started a flight school under the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), a government program in which civilians provided basic pilot training. Students who didn’t wash out were sent on to the military for further training before serving in WW II.
Frank Hulse then built Hangar One, a chain of FBOs once known to one and all as being top-drawer. I remember when I visited Hangar One at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport as a student pilot filled with awe. Coca-Cola kept their Gulfstream fleet in one of the hangars, and I remember thinking that I had been to the mountain top and seen the other side.
Hulse also started Southern Airlines, and many of us remember the prop-driven Martin 404 aircraft which became synonymous with Southern.
Frank’s son, Billy, earned an MBA from Harvard before entering the family business. He once hired me to speak to Hangar One, and I appreciated that. He increased Hangar One revenues from $20 million to more than $100 million, then sold the company to Beechcraft.
Billy’s death at an early age adds a sad closing to the Hulse legend.