Bob Hudgens is a nationally recognized leader in civil aviation! Born in 1915 in Luverne, Alabama, Hudgens’ love of flying began at age 15, shortly after hiss family moved to Birmingham. He worked at a drug store, located near final approach to the city’s municipal airport. He marveled at the activities of the local air national guard squadron and thrilled when there were airshows featuring pilots like “Jimmy” Doolittle or Birmingham’s own Glenn Messer. Hudgens enlisted in the US Army Reserve Corps in mid-1942. He was soon flying the Piper J-3 Cub and Waco UPF-7 in primary training at Auburn, Alabama. In August 1943, he began flight instructor training in Griffin, Georgia.
He went on to instruct at fields in Mississippi and Tennessee until called to active duty in 1944. He volunteered to fly gliders, received advanced training in Lubbock, Texas, and, then in early 1945, was assigned to the 810th Army Air Force Base Unit in Maxton, North Carolina. He flew the Waco CG-4A and went on to instruct in Missouri until discharged in late September 1945. On 12 October 1945, Hudgens co-founded Montgomery Aviation with Charles Womack. The corporation, with three Piper Cubs and a used Taylorcraft, operated from a grass strip a few miles south of the city.
When Dannelly Field opened in 1946 as the city’s muncipal airport, Hudgens relocated. Montgomery Aviation sold aviation fuel, provided aircraft maintenance, flew charters, conducted flight training, sold aircraft and, in 1947, was one of the first firms in the nation to rent cars at an airport. Hudgens guided the company as it expanded to Huntsville and Birmingham. Under his leadership, Montgomery Aviation has received the “Outstanding Member Award” from the National Air Taxi Conference; the ” Outstanding Service Award” by the National Aviation Trades Association; and a “Commendation Certificate for Outstanding Service to Business Aviation” from the National Business Aircraft Association.
Hudgens is not only a leader in civil aviation; he is a community leader. He has served as president or chairman of the Montgomery Chapter of the Air Force Association, Montgomery Rotary Club, and the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. At the state level, he led the Alabama Air Service Operators and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1986, Hudgens was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and honored with a portrait-plaque cast in aluminum that hangs in the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham-not far from where his love affair with flight began. At age 85, he serves as Chairman of the company and is at his desk every workday, but has passed many of his duties on to his son, Bill, one of his two children with his wife, Martha.