William W. Bateman

A funeral service was held Wednesday at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee for William W. Bateman, 55, of Mequon, who died March 16, 2006 at his home. The Experimental Aircraft Association held a celebration of his life on Monday. Poole Funeral Home in Port Washington assisted with arrangements.

Bill was born Oct. 30, 1950 in Milwaukee to Adrian "Al" and Miriam Winter Bateman. He attended the University of Colorado and received a bachelor of arts degree. On Dec. 11, 1974 Bill began his career with the U.S. Air Force. After completing pilot training in the T-38, he was trained in the F-4 Phantom II and initially deployed to England. In January 1979, Bill was assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Hill AFB in Utah, where he was selected to be one of the initial cadre of pilots from the USAF to transition into the new F-16. Later he was assigned to McDill AFB in Tampa, Fla., where he served as an F-16 instructor pilot. In addition, Bill was a participant in the USAF "Red Flag" program, the Air Force version of the famed Navy "Top Gun" School, at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nev. His last active duty assignment was as an F-16 test pilot assigned to Homestead AFB, Florida. During that time, Bill also served in the Middle East, where he flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. Following his return from the Middle East and the subsequent closure of Homestead AFB following the wrath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Bill transferred to the 182nd Fighter Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard, where he was assigned as an F-16 instructor pilot until the unit transitioned from F-16s to C-130s in 1996. It was at this point that Bill retired as a Lieutenant Colonel on April 30, 1997. He served over 20 years in the Air Force, 17 of which were spent in the F-16.

On the civilian side, Bill was very active in the EAA, having served in a number of capacities. Bill served as president of a chapter in Florida, and was also vice president of Chapter 18 in Milwaukee. In addition, Bill served as an EAA Flight Advisor and was an instructor for the very popular Sport Air Workshops. Bill was also "Mr. Sport Pilot" for the local EAA members and was the go-to guy when it came to new regulations from the FAA. Bill was also involved with the Oshkosh AirVenture Convention, having served as a co-chairman of Air Show Operations for many years. In addition, Bill served as liaison between the airshow and the Air Force. In recent years, Bill served in the Air Operations staff of the ultralight area, in which he had a passionate interest. Finally, he was a consistent supporter of the Young Eagles program, helping bring the joy of aviation to young people.

Bill worked as a sales representative at Wm. K. Walthers Inc. of Milwaukee for almost 14 years. His position provided him a platform from which he could work directly with customers, solving their problems and building their businesses. Those who were privileged to work with him knew how much he wanted to help others. Bill volunteered as a mentor and role model to troubled teens and young adults in Milwaukee. He was always ready with a helping hand, cheerful demeanor and smiling face. He will be greatly missed.

Memorials can be made to the EAA Young Eagles at P.O. Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903.