During World War II, Jack Dellinger flew on 35 missions over Germany as a gunner with the B17 Flying Forces.
He remembers the war as a terrible and terrifying time. He remembers the flying, however, as wonderful.
So itâ€™s not surprising Dellinger has spent a good deal of his 82 years dedicated to aeronautics.
For decades, he fought for a Lincoln County airport, often hitting dead ends. He once even told the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners â€œwhere to go.â€
â€œSome of them didnâ€™t want it,â€ he said. â€œSome of them thought it was crazy.â€
After several failed attempts and one heated resignation from the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Airport Advisory Board in 1977, Dellinger accomplished his goal.
His devotion to the airport has continued since its opening, and Dellinger has proven himself quite influential with the powers that be.
Retired from the insurance business, Dellinger has spent the past 20 years on the Aeronautics Council, which is overseen by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The council provides funds for all the airports in North Carolina.
Dellinger was appointed to the position by Gov. Jim Hunt after serving as his county campaign manager for many years.
Over the years, Dellinger has remained dedicated to the job. He loves retirement â€” he no longer has to wake up at 6 a.m. or work two to three nights a week â€” but he has no plans to start taking it slow.
â€œItâ€™s just something I like to do,â€ he said of the council. â€œI canâ€™t sit still.â€
His position on the council has been positive for Lincoln County. Just recently, Dellinger helped procure state funding the airportâ€™s road expansion.
â€œWe had almost given up hope,â€ said Jeff Lynn, airport manager, of Airport Drive.
Luckily, Dellinger kept up his part of the bargain, and he annoyed all the right people.
â€œHe aggravated us right into a road,â€ Lynn said.
The road is only the beginning of expansions Dellinger and airport supporters are pushing for â€” in the future they would like to extend its runway and procure county water and sewer lines.
Whatâ€™s good for the airport, says Dellinger, is good for the county at large. An airport brings businesses and industry.
Dellinger will continue his work on the Aeronautics Council for the foreseeable future. He also has to make time for his wife, Carolyn, and his three children and five grandchildren.
He loves being retired and has few regrets about his life as a whole. There is one thing, however, he wishes he couldâ€™ve done.
â€œI shouldâ€™ve gotten into flying,â€ he said. â€œI love flying.â€
by Sarah Grano