My Friend Tom Webster Goes West

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Last week a good friend, Tom Webster, passed away. Tom was 76 and lived in Columbus, OH most of his life. He was an avid aviator and built an RV-7A that he flew right up to the end. He passed peacefully in his sleep.

As you would imagine, he was a great family man and upstanding member of the community – as most aviators are. His oldest son Tommy is also a pilot.


Tom ‘Chox’, Dan ‘Skipper’, & Bill ‘Popeye’

Tom was the kind of guy that went to every aviation function he could find. He was always the first person I would greet because he was really fun to talk with. He had a tremendous zest for life and a great sense of humor. People will attest that he never met a stranger.

He gave dozens and dozens of rides over the years which certainly motivated many to earn their wings. He was the quintessential aviation ambassador.

Heartland Flight staging at Delaware Muni

He was also an excellent pilot. Prior to his RV-7, he campaigned a Luscombe all over the midwest. If you have flown a Luscombe you’ll know they can be a handful in a crosswind. He also successfully handled an engine out with his RV, putting it into a field and leaving the airplane totally unscathed.

The last time I saw Tom was at Oshkosh where he was preparing his airplane for the trip home, Dan Hempy ‘Skipper’  and I departed as a 2-ship and Tom and Bob Leffler were about :20 minutes behind us.

To honor our friend, Skipper organized a flight of 3 airplanes to do a fly-over of his son’s home where the family was gathered. We used the call sign ‘Heartland Flight’, Tom’s name for the formations he flew.

I flew lead, Hempy was right wing, and Rick Blaes flew left wing. We did 3 passes at 1000′ agl with the last pass in the missing-man formation. As I keyed the mic on that last pass to break up ‘Heartland Flight’,  I admit my voice cracked with the lump in my throat and I don’t think there was a lot of dry eyes on the ground either.


We will miss him…

Skipper Heartland Flight #2

Rick Heartland Flight #3









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