For most of the year, Jan Collmer is a Dallas businessman and philanthropist. During the air show season, his office is a 300-hp two-seat Extra 300L that is usually going 200 mph upside down. He’ll be in that position again this year at Addison Airport, performing during Kaboom Town!
The flying bug infected him while he watched airplanes come and go from the military ferry base at Dallas Love Field during World War II. Collmer started his pilot training with the U.S. Navy in 1954 and earned a naval aviator’s wings of gold in 1956, making his first carrier landing in 1955. During four years of active duty and another eight in the reserves at Naval Air Station Dallas (now NAS Fort Worth), he flew the frontline fighters of the era, including the Dallas-built Chance Vought F8U Crusader.
Leaving the Navy to earn a graduate degree at SMU, he still carried the flying bug. He began treating the symptoms by starting his air show career in 1978, performing at more than 400 of them since then. Not long after that he started serving on the DFW International Airport Board and was elected its chairman in 2006, serving a two-year term.
Returning to the airport where he was infected with aviation, Collmer is the founder and president of the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field, which opened in 1990. The common thread uniting these activities is the opportunity to share his passion for flight with others, an effort that includes giving more than 2,500 individuals their first aerobatic airplane ride. His performance at Kaboom Town this year is another opportunity to give back and help sustain in his hometown with an activity that has enriched his life—flying.