Major James T. Placke, USAF (Ret.), has been included in Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

With a passion for flying, Mr. Placke has distinguished himself as a pilot for more than 46 years with over 16,000 hours of flying experience, beginning in 1976. He began his military career in 1973 enlisting in the United States Air Force. After basic training he attended Munitions school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. During those four years he had operational assignments at Anderson Air Base in Guam, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. He served one year in the Tucson Air National Guard as a Weapons Mechanic while attending college. Mr. Placke enrolled in AFROTC at the University of Arizona in 1977 earning his commission in 1980 and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy after three years. While in college he was involved in many activities in the local area. He was on the AFROTC Drill Team, player/coach for their softball team, and in his last year was the Cadet Commander of the ROTC unit. He was also Vice-President of the University flying club, Materials Officer for the local running club and a race director, race organizer and marathoner, running three marathons during that time span. Finally, in his last semester he was the Drill Team Advisor and taught aviation ground school for ROTC pilot candidates.

After he was commissioned as an officer in 1981, Mr. Placke began training in the RF-4C Phantom II with the 33rd Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina and began his first operational tour in 1982 at Zweibrucken Air Base, Germany with the 38th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and later moved up to the wing staff within the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. During his off-duty time he attended night classes through Boston University earning a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1986. He began his next assignment with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, in 1986 where he advanced to become an Instructor Weapons System Officer. Mr. Placke subsequently moved on to Taegu Air Base in Korea. In 1989 he became a Flight Commander for the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron until the unit closed in 1990 serving administratively as the last Squadron Commander. He moved on to Osan Air Base, Korea where he functioned as the director for several flying exercises as a member of the 7th Air Force Staff. He also worked at both the Osan Air Base and Kadena Air Base as a civilian Flight Instructor during his off-duty time and also as a Flight Safety Officer at Osan Aero Club. He left Osan in 1992.

Mr. Placke returned to the US in early 1993 to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., to take a leadership role as the head of the Air Force’s International Exchange Program, under the Secretariat of the Air Force for International Affairs. In 1996, he became the Director of Operations for the Commissioned Officer Training School at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama where he retired from military service in 1998. Mr. Placke greatly enjoyed flying for the United States Air Force, crediting the experience as one of the most memorable times of his life. Throughout those years he continued to coach softball, run cross country and travel with his wife.

After his military retirement, Mr. Placke began his civilian flying career as a cargo pilot in Bessemer, Alabama and rapidly advanced over a 15 month period to become the Chief Pilot for Air Carriers Inc. He was hired by Continental Express in 1999 (later ExpressJet Airlines) as a line pilot from 1999 to 2011 advancing from First Officer to Captain in both the Beech 1900 and EMB-145. Throughout this time, he also contributed as a baseball umpire and volleyball referee for the Mid-Atlantic Officials Association from 2005 to 2011. Mr. Placke continued his career as a captain on the EMB-145, and as an Instructor, and off-line Check Airman conducting recurrent and new hire training beginning in 2011 on the EMB-145 and for a time the EMB-175.

Since 2021, Mr. Placke has served as a Corporate Pilot for Contour Aviation, providing essential air service for point-to-point and charter flights, primarily serving sports teams from various universities. Looking toward the future, he plans to continue his role with Contour Aviation, and may consider teaching future pilots and serving as a check airman in the near future. Mr. Placke is married with three grown children.

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