Capt Jerry D.S. Bolt, COP Recipient, USAF (1942-1972)

Capt Jerry Bolt, USAF; Thunderbird 4 “Slot” in the 1971-1972 Demonstration Season; CAP Alabama Wing Cadet & Certificate of Proficiency Recipient.

Captain Jerry D. S. Bolt, [USAF Academy] Class of 1964, was killed in an aircraft accident 73 miles north of Nellis AFB, NV on 21 December 1972.  Captain Bolt flew the slot position with the Thunderbird Aerial Demonstration Team.  At the time of the accident he was putting an F-4 aircraft through trial runs on the test range.

Funeral services were held at the Air Force Academy on 27 December 1972.

Captain Bolt was survived by his wife, Bibby, and by his children, Lisa and Brett, of Las Vegas, NV; and by his parents, Colonel (Ret.) and Mrs. William T. Bolt, of Garland, TX 75040.

While a cadet, Captain Bolt was named to the Commandant’s List every semester. He served as chairman of the Skating Division and the Dance Committee. He was also a member of the Bluebard Society, the Ring Committee, the Dodo Staff, the Ski Club and the Rally Committee.

Following graduation, Captain Bolt attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Craig AFB, AL. Subsequent assignments included duty with the 91st Tactical Fighter Squadron. at Bentwaters RAF Station, UK in 1966 and the 391st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam in 1967. Captain Bolt flew 189 combat missions in Southeast Asia including 71 over North Vietnam. From 1967 to 1971, he served as squadron test project officer with the 414th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Nellis AFB, NV. In 1971 Captain Bolt was assigned to the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron as narrator. In December 1971 he took over the slot position with the team.

His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters.

(Gone But Not Forgotten, Checkpoints, April 1973)

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6 comments to “Capt Jerry D.S. Bolt, COP Recipient, USAF (1942-1972)”

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  1. Profile photo of Mike Hower

    Mike Hower - Feb 11, 2012

    Comment received via email from the TSA Website, 21 Jan 2011:

    I had the privilege of again meeting Jerry Bolt in 1972 at Everett, Washington at the Paine Field Airshow. I was assisting with crowd control as a senior CAP officer.

    Jerry was a soft spoken southern gentleman of 26 years old or so, and he flew his black-tailed beast(F-4)in "slot" for the USAF Flight Demonstration Team commonly known as The Thunderbirds.

    Prior the the Air Force Academy, Jerry had earned his COP [sic.] and Spaatz award in the mid-sixties while in the Alabama Wing. He had been a C/Col. in either the Montgomery or Birmingham Cadet Squadron.

    Cpt. Jerry Bolt was killed in a flight training and mechanical flight test on 21 December, 1972. In the back seat was Jerry’s Crew Chief, T/Sgt. Chuck Lynn. I am told Jerry’s plane hit the ground at 90 degrees and perhaps mach 2.

    Please assure that Jerry Bolt is added to our TSA roster. He gave all!

  2. J PASKO - Mar 05, 2012

    My first duty was with the 414th FWS Nellis AFB and I served there from April 1969 to June of 1970. I was the assistant crew chief of F4E-00318, the pilot of that aircraft was Maj. Tom Swalm and co-pilot was Capt. Jerry Bolt. Through the past 42 years whenever I recall those days of wonder (17 years of age and working on jet planes wow!) I have on more than one account remembered Maj. Swalm and Capt. Bolt. What I remember the most was that both of them treated an airman first class like me with respect and dignity. My crew chief felt the same way; we called the Tough Tommy and Hot Shot, with respect, but not to their faces.  I looked forward to days when they flew 00318 and always upon their return. I’ve known about Maj. Swalm distinguished career; saw him on TV a few decades ago talking about the F-15 (maybe F14) program, said to my wife, I know that guy and got the picture out to prove it.
    But I always wondered what became of Capt. Bolt.
    Today, I was telling someone about the T-Birds and pulled an article on the net and in the article I read about Capt. Bolt’s accident. As you can see, Capt. Bolt made quite the impression on me, so today is sad day for me because he was one of the good guys.


    • William Cowley - Dec 06, 2012

      Ditto to all of the above. I was the 414th FWS Ops NCOIC at the time of both of these gentlemen and considered Jerry a friend as well as the Capt Bolt I worked with in the squadron.
      He told me a story about his first pre-selection trip with the T-Birds. The team were guests at a formal dinner hosted by the mayor of the airshow city with only a short time between airfield and banquet hall. Jerry laid out his mess dress in his hotel room so that he could clean up and dress in minimum time. He thought 10 minutes was pretty good and stepped out into the hallway to discover everyone else waiting for him! “Come on Jerry, we will be late!”
      Capt Bolt was the ultimate professional, a skillful warrior, and a friend gone too soon. He can be visited at the Air Force Academy Cemetary.
      Bill Cowley, CMSgt (Ret)

  3. Tim Shields - Apr 25, 2013

    I met Capt Jerry Bolt at the Edwards AFB airshow in 1972 and got his autograph (I was ten years old). I mailed him a picture I drew of his “Black-Tailed Beast” and he actually wrote me back a thank you note.
    Jerry Bolt inpired me to be an Air Force fighter pilot and I guess it stuck.
    I graduated from the Air Force Academy class of 1984 (twenty years after Jerry) and went on to fly F-15s.

    Here’s a nickel on the grass for a great aviator and officer!
    Major Tim Shields, USAFR

  4. Judi Burns - Nov 19, 2013

    I first met Jerry & Bibby before Jerry became a Thunderbird. He was an Officer Aid to my Dad at the time, and we became good friends. Another comment referred to Jerry as a gentleman and, indeed, he was. He and Bibby were two very special people and were excellent role models for young officers and their ladies. They introduced me to a long time friend, who also became a special friend to me. In the all too short amount of time that I knew this exceptional couple, I learned much from them and I felt very blessed to count them as friends. To this day, Bibbi and the boys are included in my prayers and well wishes, while Bibbi & Jerry are forever embedded in some of my fondest memories. Our world has been a better place because of the Bolts.

    • Judi Burns - Nov 19, 2013

      P.S. Tom Swalm was also a great family friend as were several others who flew among the Elite Thunderbirds and who helped civilians around the world to see and begin to understand the world of fighter aircraft. Thanks to you all and to Dad for your amazing talents.

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