Carl Cochran

Carl Cochran

Carl Cochran, former manager of the Washington Airport, died Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, at his home in Labadie. He was 89 years old.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

He 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 instructions 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 the old, open cockpit Stearman biplanes. It was the only place in the country where instructions were available in that aircraft.

Farm Boy

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.

Then the late Mayor Bob Dierkes recommended his appointment as Washington Airport manager.

Because of his many flying adventures, the people he knew, Carl had many stories to share. He was a people person and widely respected in aviation circles.

In a story in SeniorLife Times in 1997 by Ed Pruneau, managing editor of The Missourian, Carl said: "I've had a lot of fun. I've had a helluva career."