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Home North Carolina Northampton County City of Rich Square Historical Markers George V. Holloman 1902-1946

George V. Holloman 1902-1946

South Main Street, Rich Square, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 16' 5.0052", -77° 17' 19.8888"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Colonel U.S. Air Force, World War II. Pioneer in developing automatic devices for airplane control. Home 150 yds. W."
      The Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is used often by the United States military in operations carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it is likely few of the servicemen and women utilizing them know that the engineer whose inventions made such designs possible was born in North Carolina. George Vernon Holloman, a pioneer in the field of aeronautical engineering and unmanned flight, was born in Rich Square on September 17, 1902 to George and Hulda Holloman.

      As a young boy Holloman played with anything he could find that was mechanical, often building small machines out of metal parts he found on the family farm. Shortly before high school graduation, a family friend in Rich Square purchased the town’s first radio receiving set. Fascinated with the device, Holloman enrolled in a course at Southern Radio College in Norfolk.

      After graduation he took a job with the Marconi Company, later known as Radio Corporation of America, and traveled throughout Europe and Asia working on radio designs. He then returned to North Carolina, and enrolled at North Carolina State College, earning there a degree in electrical engineering. At North Carolina State, Holloman joined the ROTC program to help pay for his education, and upon graduation received a commission as a second lieutenant of infantry, spending his service commitment at Fort Benning in Georgia as the senior communications officer for the Special Weapons Battalion.

      In 1927, Holloman transferred to the Army Air Corps and was sent to Brooks Field in Texas where he received his wings the following year. He then served at Fort Sill in Oklahoma as an engineering officer and for a short time in 1934 flew a United States Air Mail route for the U.S. Army between Pittsburgh and Newark.

      Holloman attended an advanced engineering school at Chanute Field in Illinois the following year. After graduating, Holloman became head of one of eleven Instrument and Navigation laboratories overseeing the development of unmanned flight, automatic pilot, and automatic landing systems. In 1937, he engineered and oversaw the first automatic landing of an airplane, flying in the machine as a passenger.

      Four years later, with war clouds looming the distance, the Air Corps developed a new laboratory at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio called the Special Weapons Unit. Holloman, promoted to colonel, was given command of the unit. At Special Weapons, Holloman continued to oversee the development of automatic piloting systems, advanced bombsights, and unmanned flying vehicles. His office aided in the development of the first atomic bomb.

      In March 1945, Holloman transferred to the Pacific Theatre to help oversee the eventual use of the first atomic bomb, culminating in the attack on Hiroshima in August 1945. On March 19, 1946, Holloman and nine other Army Air Corps personnel riding in a B-17 piloted by Major General James Parker died when the aircraft crashed into a mountain while on a routine flight from Shanghai to Manila. Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico is named for him. He left a widow, Dorothy Darling, the niece of John Motley Morehead, and one son.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 175-176—sketch by Charles R. Holloman
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
George A. Holloman, The Holloman Family (1952)
New York Times, March 22, 1946
(Raleigh) News and Observer, July 22, 1938; May 15, 1944; April 1, 1945
George V. Holloman 1902-1946 Historical Marker Location Map, Rich Square, North Carolina