Pilot, CEO, public servant, Winton M. “Red” Blount was born in Union Springs, Alabama in 1921. At the age of 13, he worked for the family business for ten cents an hour, a wage he thought was “pretty good.” He graduated from Union Springs High School in 1938 and after spending a year at the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia and a year and a half at the University of Alabama, Red moved to Selma, Alabama to manage an asphalt company. His success in construction and affection for aviation was a combination that would prove to be truly remarkable. He earned his wings at Turner Field, Albany, Georgia just nine months after enlisting in the Army Air Corps.
Red took to aviation quickly, embarking on a lifelong love affair with flying. At one point on a low-level sortie, he flew his aircraft under a bridge on the Chattahoochee River and spent the Christmas of 1942 confined to base. After completing flight school at Turner Field and staying on as an instructor pilot, Red was sent to Maxwell Field, Alabama, to train in the Boeing B-29 Superfortress in preparation for combat duty. The war ended however, before he and his crew could arrive in the Pacific Theater. After the war, Winton and his brother Houston started Blount Brothers Construction Company (now Blount International) by digging fish ponds, paving streets, and installing storm drains; a far cry from the complex structures Blount International is known for today. They soon completed their first $1 million contract in Birmingham, Alabama, and in the 1950s the company erected Launch Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral in direct response to Sputnik, an atomic energy plant in Tennessee, a radar and electronics building and flight operations hangar for Lockheed Aircraft, and a portion of the wind tunnel at the Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.
It was from Blount’s launch pad that Apollo 11 lifted off in 1969 on its historic trip to the moon. Blount International also built the huge space environment simulator at Sandusky, Ohio, the New Orleans Superdome, and the nation’s first Atlas intercontinental missile base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. The 1980s saw Blount International flourish with the completion of the world’s largest fixed-price contract, $2 billion, for the King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Following Operation DESERT STORM, Blount International ” turned the lights back on” in Kuwait by rebuilding its infrastructure. Blount served in prominent political posts including President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for President Johnson and Postmaster General under President Nixon. Perhaps Red’s most revered project is the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, a sight he and his wife Carolyn have enjoyed in their “back yard” ever since.