Charlie Walker took his final flight home to be with the Lord on April 14, 2019. He passed away peacefully at St. Joseph Hospital surrounded by his beloved family.
Charlie was born in Yakima, Washington, in 1938. His two passions in life were flying and helping people. At the age of 15 when his friends were saving their money to buy a car, Charlie was saving his money to buy a plane. He started flying at that age in a 1953 7AC Champ and obtained his pilot’s license in 1957 when he was 18 years old. By the time he was 19 years old he had his commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings, later to include helicopter and glider ratings. He joined the Navy in March 1961 and flew FA8 Crusaders and A4 Skyhawks. He left the Navy in 1966 and flew for Continental Airlines. He became the youngest 707 captain at 29 years of age. Between 1966 and 1968 he flew 70 airlift logistical support missions for the U.S. Air Force into Vietnam. After retiring from Continental in 1984, he went to work for Saudi Arabian Airlines in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as captain and check pilot training Saudi pilots to fly the Air Bus 300.
When he returned home to Lopez Island in 1989, he picked up his passion for building airplanes and completed three award-winning planes, including his beloved Glastar. In total, Charlie built seven airplanes over the course of his life. He became an active member of the EAA Young Eagle program and truly delighted in taking many, many children up for their first airplane ride. His true joy in life, though, was helping people with every kind of project or need imaginable. His greatest honor was to fly cancer patients back and forth to the mainland for their treatments, helping them avoid the long days on the ferry. He was blessed to be able to fly his plane right up until the day he sold it at 80 years old and has now taken his final flight to join family and friends who have gone before him.
Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, William and Ella, and his brother, John. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Verna, and his son, Chris, and daughter-in-law, Tricia.
There will be a celebration of life for Charlie at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Lopez Island EMS.