Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

1934 - 2017

William John Yarber was born Dec. 18, 1934 in Nampa, Idaho. He received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics from the University of Idaho. He received his commission as an ensign and was designated as a naval aviator in March 1959. He was assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron One (HS-1) with the Sikorsky HSS-1 Seabat, and then HS-9 in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. HS-9 made deployments to Karachi, Pakistan, and several of the countries bordering the Mediterranean including North Atlantic and European nations. He was extended on active duty for a year due to the “Berlin Crisis”.

Upon release from active duty in 1962, he joined a Naval Reserve Squadron (HS-892) in Seattle, Washington. He remained in the Naval Reserve until he retired in 1989 at Point Mugu, California, with 30 years of commissioned service as a captain. During his Navy career, he was the pilot involved in three lifesaving rescue missions. He was awarded the Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Navy Expert Pistol Medal.

Yarber worked as a commercial helicopter pilot in Boise, Idaho, and flew against numerous wildfires in Idaho and Nevada. During this time, he also contracted for
sagebrush spraying, snow survey and the construction of an electrical transmission line from Hells Canyon Dam to Enterprise, Oregon.

Yarber was employed by Bell Helicopter Textron as a production test pilot in March 1968. In 1969, he transferred to the Bell marketing department as regional marketing manager and moved to Vancouver, Washington. His territory included the four northwest American states, where he flew and demonstrated various Bell helicopters.


In 1974, he was promoted to division marketing manager and was responsible for helicopter sales for 11 western states. Yarber retired from Bell in December 2000, after 32 years of employment. 

Yarber became a member of the Twirly Birds organization in 1985 and served as treasurer from 1999–2011. In 2011, he was awarded the Twirly Birds’ Les Morris Award for contributions to the organization and to the helicopter industry.

William John Yarber passed away on July 11, 2017.

AHS Update: Vertiflite September/October 2017