He earned his pilot's license at the age of 19. He had several years of experience and about 150 hours of flight time before joining the Air Force.
"I knew everything there was to know about flying," he recalls many years later, with good humor, adding, "That sounds like a second lieutenant."
He quickly learned an important lesson. An Air Force instructor joined Scoggins for a training flight. They climbed into a T-6. Scoggins had flown and been part owner in a Cessna and a Bellanca. But he'd never flown a T-6.
The instructor told him to pull on the throttle. The T-6 throttle did not perform like other throttles from Scoggins' experiences. It did things which Scoggins did not expect.
"Ever since, I see a new plane, I say, tell me everything about that plane," Scoggins says.
A good rule given that Scoggins has flown everything from the T-6 to the PA-18 to the T-28, the B-25, C-124s, as well as helicopters such as the HH53, gliders, and more. He's flown almost everything right up to the Cessna 172 and his L19 Birddog, which he still flies as he approaches the age of 79.
The mode of flight may have changed but Jack Scoggins has been flying for six decades.
Last month, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration honored Scoggins for his many years of safe flight. He can add this award to a dozen past military honors which include the Distinguished Flying Cross and Vietnam Service Medal.
The FAA awarded Scoggins with the rare Wright Brothers "Master Pilot" Award given to pilots of 50 or more years flying experience.
That experience includes teaching and certifying numerous other pilots on various models of planes, instruments, helicopters, and gliders.
Scoggins once gave a flight check for the man who became the acting FAA administrator.
He flew support for the returning space missions of Apollo 16 and 17, as well as NASA's Skylab.
He flew a plane in honor of George H.W. Bush's World War II service and received a signed thank-you note from the 41st President.
He flew helicopters on rescue missions in Vietnam, saving two downed pilots.
He escorted Richard Nixon's Marine One during the President's visit to the Bahamas and Key Biscayne. Scoggins laughs at the memory. He did not want to fly too closely so as not to endanger the President. "I got chewed out for not flying close enough."
He has dozens of stories involving a life of flight
His flight plan began as a teenager when his brother, Junior, returned home from the Navy. Using the G.I. Bill, Junior Scoggins went to pilot school. Their father, Reb Monroe Scoggins, joined Junior. They took their lessons in Shreveport, La., with both earning their pilot licenses.
With two pilots in the family, Jack took numerous flights and was smitten with air travel.
By working in an aunt's upholstery shop, she paid for Jack's flight lessons and bought him a seventh share ownership in a Cessna 120.
Jack Scoggins soloed Sept. 23, 1950 and earned his pilot certification Nov. 6, 1950.
He and his fellow plane owners eventually traded the Cessna for a three-tailed Bellanca. Graduating with a mechanical-engineering degree from Louisiana Tech University in 1954, Scoggins traded his seventh share for a Frazer automobile.
"Never had so much trouble with an automobile in my life," Scoggins recalls. It would be an experience he would remember entering the Air Force that same year. "During the first pre-flight of the T-28, I looked at the engine data plate and it read Kaiser-Frazer.' I was afraid every time I flew the thing. ... Worst aircraft was the T-28A."
He earned his Air Force pilot wings in 1955, his FAA flight instructor certificate in 1962, and became an FAA designated pilot examiner in 1977.
In the Air Force, he was stationed in various bases around the world. With plenty of downtime along the Dewline of radar sites throughout northern Canada, he spent hours with the maintenance crew. When the maintenance officer left, Scoggins became the new maintenance officer, one who also served as a pilot.
In 1969, the Air Force assigned him to helicopters. He had no interest in flying helicopters but grew to love them. He recalls one instance flying as a helicopter rescue pilot.
The helicopters often escorted planes. On this occasion, a plane was struck and caught fire. Scoggins radioed the plane pilot to eject, and the helicopter would pick him up. The pilot said, OK, but did not eject. Flames spread along the plane's fuselage.
Scoggins repeated the request. The pilot agreed again but still did not bail. Fire covered the plane.
The pilot finally ejected. Under his parachute, the pilot pulled his service weapon, emptying his ammunition into the terrain below. As soon as the pilot landed, Scoggins had the chopper beside him to help him aboard. Scoggins asked the pilot if he'd pulled his weapon because of enemy fire. The pilot answered, no, I just wanted to shoot my pistol.
Years later, Scoggins would relate this tale to a man seeking glider certification in Nashville, Tenn. Scoggins and this man had come to realize they had served together in Vietnam in 1970. As Scoggins finished this tale, the glider man laughed; he had been the shooting pilot's wingman.
It's a small world even in the wild blue yonder.
Scoggins' second wife, Joan Scoggins, brought the couple to Valdosta in the mid-1970s. He had retired from the military but she still served as a flight nurse assigned to Moody Air Force Base. They met in 1965 and married in 1966. She understands his need to fly and share the gift of flight.
As an instructor, Scoggins is known by his students as a man with ice water in his veins. He is cool under pressure. A student may have inadvertently sent a plane into a tail spin. The student may feel a sense of panic, but Scoggins remains cool. He'll look at the student, asking without so much as a blink, "Well, what are you going to do now?"
"If they get into a jam, I ask, how are you going to get out of this? I give them problems," Scoggins says, seated in his second-floor office of the Valdosta Airport control tower. "My philosophy is give them every practice emergency situation they can have while I'm in the aircraft within the bounds of safety."
If the student can't figure out the next move, Scoggins is there to clear the air for them.
He hopes to continue flying high in the years to come. He admits there aren't too many pilots flying at his age.
"If I lose my medical certification, I won't be able to go up," he says, shaking his head. "I don't look forward to that, but hopefully that day is a long way off."