Azel James "A. J." Hutto Jr., 86, of Orangeburg, SC, passed away, Monday, January 6, 2020. He was the husband of Vivian S. Porter-Hutto and was previously married to the late Patricia P. Hutto.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 10, 2020, at First Presbyterian Church, 650 Summers Ave., Orangeburg, SC 29115. Burial with Military Honors will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery. A reception will be held following the Graveside Service in the Presbyterian Center at the church. The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Thursday, January 9, 2020, at Dukes-Harley Funeral Home. Honorary pallbearers will be employees of Dukes-Harley Funeral Home & Crematory and Memorial Park Cemetery, and members of the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association.
A. J. was born in Orangeburg, SC in 1933, a son of the late Azel James Hutto, Sr. and Mary Louise Harley Hutto. He was a graduate of Orangeburg High School and Clemson College as member of the last full military class, with an Agricultural Engineering Degree. He then entered the U.S. Army in 1955 and began his aviation career in 1956 at the Army's flight school in an L-19 at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He flew a variety of fixed wing aircraft until beginning his helicopter training in Wells, Texas in an H-2 Hiller. After being checked out in most of the helicopters the Army had, he began his instrument training. In 1959, he became one of the Army's few Fixed & Rotary Wing Instrument Flight Examiners.
In January of 1961 after completing his military service, he joined Boeing Vertol Division in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a test pilot and began flight testing with the 107. He flew all of Boeing's helicopter models He enjoyed taking these aircraft through their paces to find their limits and the thrill of flying. During his time at Boeing, he contributed by making components in his basement helping them to design safety cargo hooks and the actual joy stick knob which he used to fly the "Fly by Wire" helicopter. A. J. was also given the honor of piloting Marine 1, flying Vice President Hubert Humphrey who was surveying storm damage in Pennsylvania.
During the fall of 1974, A.J. made the first manned flight completely "Fly by Wire" in the heavy lift helicopter and was awarded the Frederick L. Feinberg Award. Since 1961, the Frederick L. Feinberg Award has been presented to the pilots of a vertical flight aircraft who accomplished the most outstanding achievement in the preceding year". The award is on display in the Smithsonian Institute of Aviation. In 1981, he retired from Boeing and worked with the FAA as an FAA Examiner Designated Engineer Representative (DER-Test Pilot) from 1980 to 1983.
While in the process of moving back to SC, he was tasked with delivering Chinooks to the Army in GA and NC. On one or more of those flights, the helicopter was filled with A.J.s furnishings and shop tools. His wife Pat, was concerned at first that he would have a hard landing and break her china, but he didn't. After that he just wouldn't tell her about what he was taking anymore. If he knew A.J. was stopping by, Cecil Hadwin, the operator of Orangeburg Airport would request that he fly low over the length of the runway with the helicopter to blow it off. He did that numerous times.
In 1980, A. J. became the owner of Dukes-Harley Funeral Home where he served his community for nearly 38 years, carrying on the service of his uncles, Clifton and I.S Harley. He truly enjoyed helping families over the years, and strived to serve all families as best as he could with the same compassion and professionalism. He was very active in the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association, and was instrumental in the creation of the South Carolina Pre Need law and contracts that are still used today, and is considered one of the best consumer laws in the country. He was past President of the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association, past President of the Orangeburg Rotary Club and past President of the Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce, past policy board member, and committee chairman of the National Funeral Directors Association. In addition, he was a member of the Experimental Test Pilots Association and a member as well as an author of several technical papers published for the American Helicopter Society and the Aviation Board of the City of Orangeburg for more than 15 years. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and a former member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
Survivors include his wife of the home; sons, Azel James "Jay" Hutto, III (Linda) of Lexington, SC, Mark William Hutto (Amber) of Orangeburg, SC, and Robert Todd Hutto (Janeth) of Florence, SC; 6 grandchildren, Azel James "Jamie" Hutto, IV (Sarah), Leslie Hutto Simpson (Reece), Matthew Banks Hutto, Vivienne Lucile Hutto, Mark William "Will" Hutto, Jr. and Walker McGill Hutto; 5 great-grandchildren, Lily, Azel James V, Sawyer, and Liam Hutto, and Noah Simpson; brother, Dr. David Ruple Hutto (Ann); sister-in-law, Edwina Hutto; many nieces and nephews; and a step-daughter, Pamela S. Hanaburgh.
In addition to his parents and wife Pat, A. J. was predeceased by a brother, Robert Harley Hutto.
Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 650 Summers Ave, Orangeburg, SC 29115 or St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1356 Amelia Street, Orangeburg, SC 29115.
To send flowers to Azel "A.J." James Hutto's family, please visit our floral section.