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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Carl Cochran, Former Manager of Washington, MO Airport, Remembered

By Carmelo Turdo
Mr. Carl Cochran passed away on Jan 3, at the age of 89. Carl was very well known in the St. Louis aviation community, and among his many accomplishments, flew for Ozark Airlines, and managed the Washington, Missouri airport for nearly two decades. He will be greatly missed.  A memorial service is being planned for sometime in April at the Washington, MO airport.

The gives the following review of Mr. Cochran's aviation career:

Mr. Cochran was a pilot, flight instructor and airport manager in his long career in aviation that began in 1940.  He managed the Washington Municipal Airport, which now is a regional airport, from 1982 to 1997 when he retired at age 75. He and the airport weathered two major floods, in 1986 and 1993.

Because of his long career in aviation, he was widely known and is credited with "putting the Washington Airport on the map." Under his management, flight instruction and maintenance on aircraft brought many pilots to the airport. The airport was the location for many events, fly-ins and reunions. For a time, instructions were given in Stearman biplanes. It was the only place in the country where instructions were available in that aircraft.

Raised on a farm, he went to work at age 17 at an aircraft factory in Kansas City, Kan. With World War II under way, he enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and earned his wings in 1944. He flew land-based patrol bombers on many missions. After the war, he spent a number of years in the Naval reserves before retiring from the service.  Cochran ran a flying school in New Mexico for a period and learned to fly helicopters in 1948. He was one of only about 100 pilots certified to fly helicopters at that time. He flew for non-scheduled airlines, including one in Illinois that later became Ozark Airlines, headquartered in St. Louis. He flew for Ozark for 31 years. Ozark later was sold to TWA.

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