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It is with heavy heart I report the sad news I received this afternoon. My long time friend Jim McCorkle passed away peacefully at the age of 97 and one month.
Jim was born in Glasgow and at an early age joined the RAF and was picked to be a pilot. He did his training at Pensacola Navy Air Station in Florida where he gained his coveted wings.
He was in Bomber command and flew several types of aircraft including the Hudson Bomber and the one he completed his mission on was the legendary Lancaster which he referred to as a trusty "Kite". He was also a pilot on the famous DC3. It was on a mission flying this plane out of Aden on submarine patrol that he ended in the sea. The shore crew had sabotaged the fuel and they had to ditch. He and his crew spent several days floating about and it was by sheer good luck they were rescued.
Later on Jim transferred to flying the new helicopters and when stationed in Cyprus during the IOKA troubles was responsible for capturing a gunman who had just shot a British soldier.
Jim was awarded several medals for his services in the war.
After the war he was again flying over Berlin but now instead of dropping bombs he took part in the "Berlin Airlift" supplying the besieged city with all that was needed during the Soviet blockade. On the 50th anniversary of this service the German Government invited those who took part in this "airlift" to Berlin where they were treated with great respect as heroes.
As a helicopter pilot Jim had the distinction of flying the Queen and many other members of the Royal Family when they needed to fly.
Another note worthy achievement was he was the pilot that flew the helicopter which placed the cross on top of the newly built Coventry Cathedral"
When he left the RAF Jim continued to fly helicopters all over the world and again was the pilot of choice to ferry many world famous persons to their engagements.
Jim immigrated to Canada and became a pilot for the Canadian Coast Guard. It was during this tenure that he had a serious crash.He was flying from an ice breaker on ice patrol. The main rotor became detached and he crashed on to an ice flow. He sustained serious injuries and the result of which his spine was compressed and he lost 3 inches in height.
He was assigned a job of flying a desk which he did not care for but during this spell he rewrote the manual for civil pilots.
He returned to his love of flying as a pilot for a company which took him all over the Canadian north and world wide. This was a favourite time for him and he only stopped when the insurance company would not renew his policy to fly due to his age.
Jim was a great raconteur and often told of his life at local schools.
It was only recently he stopped marching with other veterans on 11th November wearing his Royal; Canadian Legion "uniform" adorned with his many decorations and medals.
RIP old friend.
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