We’ve written about the late Carl Cochran often in the past, and memories of him are still alive even though he died early this year. Carl was back in the news of late when East Central College announced that his estate, as Carl wished, is donating $70,000 for scholarships.
Earlier he had donated $30,000 to the college for scholarship(s). Carl is known for his aviation career, the final chapter of which was managing the Washington Regional Airport. He never considered himself to be wealthy and people didn’t see him in that vein.
Carl, because of his outstanding career, was Mr. Aviation in this area. He brought life to the airport and the strong opinion by this writer is that he put the Washington airport on the aviation map. Because of him, many people, pilots and others, visited the airport. Carl promoted activity at the airport. Flyins were common. His buddies from the days he was a Navy aviator and then a commercial airline pilot were drawn to the airport because of Carl.
We would receive calls from him when he thought a visitor would be of a news interest. An example was when the president of TWA visited the airport in his personal aircraft he piloted.
His engaging personality enabled him to develop friends from all walks of life. A true professional in everything he did earned him a high level of respect. He made every effort to be as accommodating as possible. Because he offered lessons in flying a heritage biplane, several pilots from foreign countries were students. People with mega years of experience are great storytellers. They are entertaining. Carl was just that among his many other attributes. We had the pleasure to fly with him and he was very helpful in maneuvering the aircraft so we could get the best angle for a photo.
Although he was a “timeaholic” at the airport, he kept himself up to date on what was going on in Washington and in this area. He became a member of the East Central College Foundation board, and served from 1983 to 1993. He believed in the college and the educational opportunities it gave to people of all ages, especially two years to the young people headed for four-year degrees. In a quiet manner, he did what he could for the college.
There are plans to recognize Carl by the city and his many friends by perhaps naming something at the airport after Carl. To honor Carl at the airport is overdue.
Shannon Grus, executive director of the ECC foundation, said Carl felt he had been “blessed” in his life and he wanted to give something back to the community. He also wanted to inspire others to make contributions. We have always felt that this area and the airport in general were “blessed” to have Carl in our midst. The airport benefited from his vast aviation experience.
Carl was a good citizen with a heart in the right place.