2008-09-19 / Front Page

Adventurer continues quests in Columbia

By Jackie Perrone jacper@bellsouth.net

Captain Billy Rawl Captain Billy Rawl He's seen the world from land, sea, and air. Uncle Sam's Navy showed him around for about four years, then the Air Force made a jet plane available for more travel. He wound up with 21 years as a commercial pilot for TWA circling the globe and its arcane corners.

Cap'n Billy Rawl came home to South Carolina after a lifetime of travel adventure.

"I was born in Johnston," he begins. "It didn't hold me very long, and neither did college. I joined the Navy at age 18, and after that hitch, I made it into the last Avalon class of the U.S. Air Force. That was a cadet program offering the chance to qualify for pilot training. I flew Air Force planes.

"After the Air Force, I signed on with TWA as a commercial pilot, flying Boeing 747s. That adventure lasted 21 years.

"A lot of that time, I was based in southern California, and when it was time to retire, I thought hard about all the places I had been and seen. I came right back to South Carolina and found a home in Columbia."

When he was in Southern California he honed his skills with sailing. His sailboat was named Defiant, a Columbia class 43. He raced in the Ensenada, at Newport Beach, Calif., the largest such race in the world.

Billy Rawls flew T- 33 Trainers for the Air Force. Billy Rawls flew T- 33 Trainers for the Air Force. These days, Cap'n Billy travels the world on the Internet. His computer skills keep him occupied with various Web pages and international communication. Digital photography has come into play, also.

This Renaissance man does not lack for hobbies and interests.

"One big factor in my moving to Columbia is the wonderful music scene here. When I found myself in middle age, I had outgrown planes and sailboats. Columbia has so much to offer for music lovers. I served nine years on the Board of the South Carolina Philharmonic, and my wife Alida is music director at Seven Oaks Presbyterian Church. I am president of the Columbia Opera Guild; we meet four times a year, and enjoy good food and wine and a music program. The professor of opera at U.S.C., Ellen Schlaefer, is a member of our guild and brings her students to perform sometimes. I was involved in an effort to create an opera company at Newberry."

Billy Rawls was a commercial airline pilot for TWA. Billy Rawls was a commercial airline pilot for TWA. Rawls is also involved with Sherlock Holmes. The Hansom Wheels Society focuses on Conan Doyle's legendary detective, meeting every other month to review Holmesiana.

Rawls shows up at the Paul Redfern Society also. Redfern is the South Carolina aviator who vanished mysteriously on a flight to South America about 80 years ago. His flight is commemorated by locals interested in the story. Learn more about Cap'n Billy on his Website: Capnbilly. com or communicate with him by email: twacapt@ hotmail.com.

Billy Rawls raced his sailboat, Defiant, a Columbia class 43, in California. Billy Rawls raced his sailboat, Defiant, a Columbia class 43, in California.

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