From the Hangars

Donor Spotlight: Captain Harold "Hal" Summers

Mar 30, 2020

Hal Summers with Grandson

Captain Harold Summers with grandchild.

Harold Fredrick Summers began his career in aviation by enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps. in 1942. He served in North Africa during World War II as an Air Transport Command pilot, retiring in 1946 at the rank of Major. Shortly after his time in the military, Summers' commercial aviation career took flight. 


Chicago & Southern The Valley Level Route Sign ca. 1946 (Gift of George Dingeldey to Delta Air Lines).

In June of 1946, Summers flew his first flight for Chicago and Southern Air Lines. With Chief Pilot Hap Anderson, Summers' first flight was to deliver C&S's first Douglas DC-4 aircraft from Baltimore to Memphis. As his career continued, he flew Douglas DC-3's over, as he called it, "The Big X," or "The Valley Level Route," from Chicago to New Orleans and everywhere in between. The route was known as  "900 Miles of Flat Country" between the cities with "Fine Airports" and "A Splendid Airway."


Capt. Hal Summers' pilot cap.

Chicago and Southern Air Lines merged with Delta in 1953 and, some years after, in 1957, Hal Summers became a qualified captain. Summers and his family moved from Memphis to Atlanta that same year, and his career with Delta blossomed. 

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Excerpt from Capt. Hal Summers' log book, July and August 1963.

During his early days with Delta, Summers mainly flew captain reserve on the Douglas DC-3 and Convair 440, but in the 1960s, he joined the Flight Training Department. He was assigned to give transition and training on the Convair 440 and the DC-6 and DC-7 for co-pilots and captains upgrading their equipment. Summers returned to line flying in 1965, and helped pioneer Delta's jet program by flying the Convair 880 and Douglas DC-8 over the entire domestic system.


Capt. Summers' Certificate of Training on the Lockheed, October 1973.

In 1973, Summers also helped usher in the Lockheed L-1011 to the Delta fleet by coordinating all of the initial equipment line checks required to put the aircraft into service by December of the same year. He returned to line flying in early 1974, and continued until his retirement in September of 1980. 

Hal Summers Last flight

Capt. Hal Summers on his last flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta, September 1980.

Accompanied by his family, On September 4th, 1980, Capt. Summers flew his last Delta flight on an L-1011 from Frankfurt to Atlanta.  He served Delta and it's family of airlines for over 30 years. Summers embodied the Delta Spirit and we are extremely grateful to preserve his airline legacy at the Delta Flight Museum.

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Sketch of Capt. Hal Summers on Delta stationery, artist unknown.

A special thanks to Capt. Summers' wife Carolyn B. Summers, his daughters Carole, Susan, and Janet, and his grandchildren Jonathan, Megan, Andrew, and Claire for donating his collection to the museum. Their generosity made this post and the preservation of his Delta legacy possible. Thank you so much!

Austin Coleman


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