Thomas P. O’Connell Sr.

LEWISTON – Thomas P. O’Connell Sr., 85, of Wales, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He was born on March 6, 1936, in Derby, Connecticut, the son of Lawrence and Margaret (Hoey) O’Connell. He grew up 15 minutes north of Bridgeport, Connecticut, this is where his love of flying developed at the young age of six years old. When Tom turned 17 and received his driver’s license he drove to Bridgeport and received his first flying lesson. That same year he logged enough hours to take his first solo trip in a yellow two-seater Piper J-3 Cub, he later owned an identical model. Tom attended school in Connecticut and graduated in 1954. On Jan. 23, 1955, in Derby, Connecticut, he married Ann Yezik, they were married for 60 years before her passing in 2015. Tom and Ann took their wedding money and bought their first airplane, it was a Luscombe airplane and at the time he only had 15 hours of logged flight time. Times were different then and Tom taught himself to fly on a grassy strip just outside of Bridgeport. In 2013 Tom was interviewed for an article in the LA-Magazine, at the time he already logged over 30,000 hours in the air and accrued more than 25,000 flights. He worked his way up the ranks and at 22 he received his commercial license and later became a Certified Flight Instructor. He first started working for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, among others, and it was here that he was able to visit the weather bureau, study weather patterns, and watch them make weather maps. Tom then went on to co-pilot for Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, Mohawk Airlines, Allegheny Airline, United Airlines, and American Airlines. Within four years of being a co-pilot he became a captain, he remained in this position until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1993. He loved to tell everyone he met that after his retirement he spent two seasons flying floats for Taquan Air in Ketchikan, Alaska. During his years as a pilot, he worked at LaGuardia and Logan airports before moving north to New Hampshire, and then to his home in Wales in 1979. After moving to Maine, he began chartering flights, including some of Maine’s political members, for Twin Cities Air Service out of the Lewiston/Auburn Airport. After his retirement he worked at Twitchell’s Airport and Seaplane Base in Turner where he charted flights and gave flying lessons to hundreds of pilots and prospective pilots. Tom will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and the entire flying community. He is survived by his daughter, Kathleen O’Connell of Wales, his son, Thomas O’Connell, Jr. and wife Michelle of Wales, four grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, his brothers, Dan O’Connell and his partner Chris of North Carolina, and Edward O’Connell of Florida, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, and his wife, Ann O’Connell. Messages of condolence may be sent to: http://www.finleyfuneralhome.comA funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, at the Lewiston/Auburn Airport Hanger, Corner of Aviation Avenue and Flightline Drive, Auburn, Maine. The service may also be viewed LIVE at https://www.facebook.com/FINLEYFUNERALHOME. Arrangements by BRAGDON~FINLEY FUNERAL HOME, 707 Main Street, Monmouth, Maine. Interment will be held in the spring at East Wales Cemetery, East Road, Wales, Maine.

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