In 1933 at the age of 10, Wesley V. (Wes) Hillman began hanging around the local airstrip in Roanoke, Virginia. The pilots decided that they could not have Wes being unproductive around the airstrip, so they put him to work and Wes began learning everything he could about airplanes and aviation. By the time Wes was teenager, he was already flying and could profess an entire course on airplanes, all the way from the mechanics to the maneuvers—almost anything anyone wanted to know. At age 17, Hillman became the youngest flight instructor in the United States, which earned him a spot in the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. Throughout his storied civilian aviation career, Hillman was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, had numerous narrow escapes, barnstormed, searched for moonshine stills, and even spread ashes of deceased persons all over the mountains. In 1951, he purchased what became Hillman Aviation, which he and his wife, Edith, ran for 35 years.