Jim Jackson oral history interview
Born-digital video recording of an oral history with Jim Jackson and interviewer Dan Hagedorn, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, September 23, 2014
Aviation mechanic James “Jim” Hawthorne Jackson is interviewed about his life and military service. Particular focus is given to Jackson’s time with the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, when he worked as a B-29 mechanic in the United States and Guam. Afterwards, Jackson discusses his involvement with The Museum of Flight’s Restoration Center and his work restoring various aircraft, including the Museum’s B-29 Superfortress and Lockheed YO-3A Quiet Star.
Table Of Contents
James “Jim” Hawthorne Jackson was a B-29 mechanic during World War II. Later, he volunteered at The Museum of Flight’s Restoration Center, assisting with the restoration of the Museum’s B-29 and YO-3A.
Jackson was born in Seattle, Washington on May 31, 1915 to Herbert Robinson and Margaret (Metzgar) Jackson. He grew up in the Kirkland and Bellevue, Washington area. His father was a friend of Bill Boeing Sr. and worked as the first foreman for the Boeing Company’s woodshop in the Red Barn. Jackson graduated from Bellevue High School in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) shortly thereafter. In this role, he ran telephone lines across the Cascade Mountains. He worked for the CCC for a little over a year and continued to work in residential construction before losing sight in one eye from an accident. Afterwards, he worked as a security guard on docked ships in Lake Union.
At the beginning of World War II, Jackson was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Forces. He attended Arrow Industries Technical Institute in Glendale, California for training as a sheet metal worker. Following the completion of that training, he was sent to Oklahoma City Air Service Command and then was transferred to Pratt Army Airfield in Kansas, where he encountered his first B-29 Superfortress. Despite being blind in one eye, Jackson was sent on overseas duties to help construct what would become Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. He also serviced B-29s returning from missions over Japan, working with the 29th Bombardment Group of the 314th Wing.
Jackson was discharged from military service in January 1946 and returned to Seattle. He worked at Wilson Machine Works in West Seattle until his retirement in 1974. Following the death of his wife, Cynthia, he joined the restoration team at The Museum of Flight’s Restoration Center. He worked on the Museum’s B-29, YO-3A, and other aircraft.
Jackson died on July 13, 2016 and is buried in Anderson Cemetery in Snohomish County, Washington, alongside his wife.
Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.