On September 29, 2011, general aviation lost a stellar yet unspoken hero. Though insufficiently acknowledged, Bill was the chief diplomat, emissary and envoy of the Spirit of Flight. Born in Port Angeles, Wash., on October 13, 1946, his family's farm was under the local airport's flight path. At age three, he gave his attention to airplanes in flight. If not watching planes from the farm, Bill was at the airport.

At age eight, Bill's family moved to Medford, Ore., and became a fixture at its airport, where he first held the controls of an airplane in flight at age ten. From that moment, flying became the center of his life. He earned his private pilot certificate at 15, and flew every type of aircraft except jets. It is said, if it has wings, Bill could fly it.

Whether flying Mercy Flights, dusting local orchards, providing air support for wildland fire suppression, dispersing airport fog, or shuttling planes, Bill was the one for the job. He performed aerobatic stunts in the movies and founded a flying circus where he designed and performed previously unseen aerobatic maneuvers as a main attraction in airshows across the US. Bill trained new pilots, tested those seeking new ratings and maintaining current ones, and provided flight knowledge training courses at Rogue Community College.

Although Bill owned many airplanes, his favorite was a 1946 Taylorcraft. Like himself, the T-Craft is lightweight, free from contemporary excesses. Flying a T-Craft he would say, made necessary that a pilot be a Pilot.

Friends will gather Saturday, October 22, 2011, from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m., at 4578 Table Rock Rd., Central Point, Ore., to honor Bill and tell flying stories. In lieu of flowers, Bill would encourage donations to the Young Eagles program, where youth can experience the thrill of flight. SkyBilly.com for more information.