Sunday, April 27, 2008

Remembering Chuck Doyle

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune obituary section bears the news that Chuck Doyle of Apple Valley is dead at 91, complete notice to follow.

Where to start! I first met Chuck when he was a captain and I was a stewardess for Northwest Airlines some time in 1956. Soon he became unforgettable to me when he brought our DC-4 over his home in Apple Valley before we landed at (then) Wold Chamberlain Field. Our wing waggle was a signal to Birdie, his wife, to start mixing the martinis. He would be home soon.

A mechanical problem was discovered one hot summer day while we were on the ground in Milwaukee. There wasn't a mechanic available there to fix our problem. The airline decided to fly a mechanic over from Minneapolis. I can still see Chuck cooling his heels (and his temper) by sitting on the concrete in the shade of our airplane and reading a newspaper while we waited.

Chuck was a character who led an incredible life. Before getting a real job as a pilot for NWA he was an air racer and stunt flyer, wowing the crowds at the Minnesota State Fair and other fairs, doing a variety of daredevil stunts like motorcycle to airplane transfers and car to airplane transfers.

Chuck had a grass landing strip at his home in Apple Valley which he dubbed "Doyle International." For years he operated the only banner towing business in the Twin Cities. When he wasn't driving a commercial airliner you could count on seeing him overhead in his signature turquoise Steerman PT-17, towing banners advertising everything from beer to radio stations.

There are certainly dozens, more likely hundreds, of Chuck Doyle stories out there. If you have one to share, please tell us your story.


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