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Mon, Jul 11, 2011

Gone West: Marion Cole

Another Bright Shining Light of Sport Aviation Has Passed On

ANN has learned that Marion Cole passed away, Friday, from our good friend, Aerobatic pilot Greg Koontz. One of the most famous (though Marion might have termed that as 'infamous') of the early generation of aerobatic pilots and airshow performers, Marion Cole was 86 and had an undeniable impact on the entire sport aviation world. 

Marion Cole
(ICAS Foundation Pic)

Inducted into the ICAS Foundation Hall of Fame in 2006, his ICAS Foundation bio notes that, "Marion’s career began in the 1940s and continued into the 21st century.  He was an aerobatic instructor, air show performer, plus a national and world aerobatic competitor.  He flew as part of the original Cole Brothers Air Shows after World War II, then established the Marion F. Cole Air Shows which operated off and on until the early 1990s. Originally based out of Kewanee, IL and then Fort Worth, TX, for the last 40 years Marion has operated between Monroe and Shreveport, Louisiana."

He was a founding member of the International Aerobatic Club, taught aerobatics at the basic and advanced levels, and tutored many young aerobatic pilots for well over 50 years. In addition, he flew air shows throughout the continental United States from the late 1940s into the early 1990s. Though retired from the air show circuit, for well over a decade, he still counseled, tutored and announced for some young aerobatic hopefuls (and attended several air shows here and there) for a number of years.

Marion's awards and accomplishments during his air show career include:

  • 1952 National Aerobatic Champion
  • Member of the United States Men’s Aerobatic Team in World Contest in 1968 in Magdeburg, East Germany
  • Madame Claire Chennault Aerobatic Award, 1965
  • Mayor Honors Awards, 1965, 1966, 1967, for achievements in aviation
  • EAA #48 and Life Time member
  • Member of International Aerobatic Club Hall of Fame, 1988
  • 31,000 hours of flight time

Funeral services celebrating Marion's amazing life will be conducted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 11:00 am at Hill Crest Memorial Funeral Home, Haughton, LA. Chaplain Larry Bass will officiate. Visitation will be held at Hill Crest on Monday, July 11, 2011 from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Marion Cole Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Ouachita Independent Bank, 601 Fern Ave, Shreveport, LA 71105 or call (318) 459-3000.

Marion was an affable and talented flyer whose impact was felt throughout the sport aviation world for many decades (though I personally think his influence will continue for many more). ANN sends our condolences to this friends and family...

FMI: www.icasfoundation.org/hall_fame/2006/marioncole.htm 


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