Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am



OBIT HerbPetty1
OBIT HerbPetty2

1921 – 2013

Herb passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at the age of 92. 

Herb was born and raised in Palo Alto, CA. He spent his early years in the Palo Alto school system where he was an active member of the boy scouts and received the top scouting award of Eagle Scout.

Herb received a degree from San Jose State University and was vice president of his class. He was a member and president of the Tau Delta Phi, a men’s honorary scholastic fraternity. It was at San Jose State that he became interested in learning to fly. At that time the college offered a course in civil pilot training.

Herb was a pilot for Pan American Airways for thirty-nine years retiring at the age of 60 as an executive check captain. Herb started his career as fourth officer flying from San Francisco to Honolulu on the China Clipper that took off on the water from Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. Captain Petty was part of that truly pioneering epoch as a member of the flight crew on the fabled Pan Am Clippers. 

Pan Am sent him, along with his family, to live in New York for 12 years and then to London, England for 6 years to fly the International German Service during the time of the Berlin Wall.  He returned to San Francisco from Europe to fly the first commercial jet airplanes. Herb flew every jet airplane offered by Pan Am and ended his career flying his favorite airplane - the mighty 747.

Herb also set a record for being the first commercial pilot to fly from San Francisco to London in less than 9 hours.  According to Herb, this was accomplished with the help of a little planning and very strong tail winds! Also, at Pan Am he starred in the movie titled “Jet Pilot” which was part of a series produced by Science in Action.  

Pan Am, an International Carrier, allowed him to fly all over the world including 52 trips around the world. This resulted in more than 32,000 hours, fourteen million miles and an estimated two years of sitting in a seat of an airplane.

While with Pan Am he received the rank of Lieutenant J.G. so he would he would qualify to fly under contract for the Naval Air Transport Service in the South Pacific. Also, much later, he received the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force for troop transport missions into Vietnam. He received a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation from the Military Airlift Command for participating in sustained aerial support of the United States Armed Forces engaged in combat operations within the Republic of South Vietnam. He completed thirty-nine troop transport missions.

Herb was on the original board of directors of Pier 39 San Francisco, which he helped to develop. He established a scholarship at San Jose State University for aviation majors and was awarded a Certificate of Excellence. 

He was a longtime member of the Clipper Pioneers and the Nevada Civil Air Patrol.  

Herb spent much time on portfolio management, and was a husband handy man. At one time he enjoyed playing tennis, skiing at Lake Tahoe and in Europe, volleyball at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu, playing dominoes and bridge with his friends, and traveling around the world with his best friend and wife Carol Ann.  

Herb will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He was caring, loving, loyal, hardworking, courageous, generous, modest ..  all the values that were a symbol of his generation. A true gentleman to the end!

He is survived by his cherished wife Carol Ann, his daughter Terryl (Wayne), son David (Bobbie), and granddaughter Laura. He was preceded in death by his former wife Helen. He was also survived by his step-daughter Kristine (Jim), step-sons Kevin (Sylvie) and Patrick and step-grandchildren Brendan, Natalie and Christian.  

Services will be private at his beloved Lake Tahoe.

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