Capt. David Hill †
Starting in January 2010, many of us associated with this site had the honor of getting to know a great man—Captain David Hill. The circumstances were not at all great – David and his crew had been exposed to oil fumes during a flight. He and his fellow crew members were taken off the aircraft on a stretcher and straight to the ER.
After a long and successful career of flying, both in the USAF and commercially, he never flew again nor did his first officer or most of his flight attendant crew – everyone was seriously affected by those fumes.
The FAA took away his license to fly because of the chronic ill health that followed that exposure. But despite that obvious and strong connection between the fumes and his cognitive problems, memory issues, and other neurological symptoms, his airline denied his workers compensation claim (twice), which had a major impact on his well-being, his access to appropriate health care, and his family’s finances.
On Friday December 16, 2016, the pain of his illness and everything that accompanies losing one’s career and one’s health became too much of him to bear, and he ended his life. We have no doubt that, had he not suffered that fumes exposure, and had the “system” not treated him as it did, he would be alive and well today.
Anyone who knew him knew of his courage, and enjoyed his dry self-deprecating humor and bright mind. Since that January 2010 flight, Dave (along with other members of that tight-knit crew) flew across the country many times to raise awareness of the fumes issue on aircraft and to share his personal story. He met with the Chairwoman of the NTSB (she did nothing to investigate the incident), he presented on a panel at the FAA Fire Safety Conference (the FAA has done nothing), he talked to Good Morning America, and he helped to educate so many crew unions by telling his personal story.
He is missed by so many people who thought highly of him. And beyond his career, he was a committed husband and father, and his loss has left an especially big hole in the lives of his dedicated wife of many years, Penny, and their grown children.
The world lost a great man. He was a kind, gentle, and brave soul, and his life matters.