Print Print Email Email Share Share

Henry Allyn Haigh II

Henry Haigh II


Henry Haigh II was born on December 14, 1924 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His family moved to Dearborn where he attended the Henry Ford High School. Attending formal classes four days a week and working as an apprentice in a Ford factory on the fifth day, Henry not only received a well-rounded academic education, but was capable of operating all of the machines in a fully equipped tool shop.

As a teen, Henry became involved in building and flying model airplanes. Soon he was participating in model airplane meets on a national level and enjoying the challenges of competition flight.

In 1942, at the age of 18, Henry enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Army Air Corps. He received his pilot wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1943.

At age 20, Henry was flying the B-24 Liberator. He was then assigned to the B-29 transition and graduated in 1945 as an aircraft commander. World War II ended before he and his crew deployed overseas.

In 1946, Henry found himself back in Michigan as a civilian with new priorities and goals in his life. He opened a small manufacturing shop in Brighton, Michigan. Henry bought a Cessna 172 and then bought a Ryan PT-22 and started acrobatic training. Henry's training was mostly self-taught because there were few acrobatic schools.

In 1970, Henry entered his first acrobatic contest in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and finished in third place in the advanced category. Henry competed in many contests, eventually moving himself up to champion status. In 1976, Henry was selected as a member of the U.S. team for the international competition held at Kiev, USSR. Henry placed tenth. His skill continued to improve. He placed second in Austria in 1982; later at Oshkosh, he again placed second; then in 1988 he placed first at Red Deer, Alberta, thus becoming the world champion acrobatic pilot.

Henry won over sixty International Acrobatic Club (IAC) contests. He flew as a member of the U.S. team and was a member of the U.S. Acrobatic Team every year from 1974 to 1991. He flew in eight World Acrobatic Contests and has won five gold medals, seven silver medals and five bronze medals.

Henry A. Haigh II was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2000 for his outstanding skill and performance in world-class acrobatic competitions. He passed away May 2, 2014.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program