Thomas H. Wardleigh


Posted: Monday, July 12, 2004

Longtime Alaska pilot Thomas H. Wardleigh died Wednesday, July 7, 2004, of cancer at his home in Anchorage. He was 78.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, at Jewel Lake Parish, 3833 Strawberry Road in Anchorage.

Mr. Wardleigh was born Nov. 22, 1925, in Seattle. His interest in aviation began early in life through his family and relatives. He went to work for Pan American Airlines in 1943 as an apprentice mechanic. This was followed by a two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, as a machinist's mate. Following World War II, he studied at the University of Washington while working at Kenmore Air Harbor.

He was married in 1949, and together with his wife, Jan, moved to Alaska in 1951, when he was offered a position as chief mechanic-pilot with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Aircraft Division in Anchorage.

From 1958 to 1983, he held several piloting positions with the CAA-FAA, ending his career as the branch chief for the Flight Inspections Division in Anchorage.

After his retirement from government service in 1983, Mr. Wardleigh was a corporate pilot and a highly regarded flight instructor, in addition to chairing the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation. The foundation produced nearly 1,000 "Hangar Flying" programs for public television in Alaska.

"More than anything, Tom enjoyed passing on his knowledge of flying safely to others," his family said. "He was a true gentleman and a friend to all who love aviation."

Mr. Wardleigh is survived by his wife of 55 years, Janice; son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Patricia; son, Steven; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation Memorial Scholarship Fund, Jewel Lake Parish or to a charity of the donor's choice.

Arrangements were made by Anchorage Funeral Home and Crematory.

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