EDMOND — Wil Moore's love for aviation began while lying in a grassy field at the age of 9 in his hometown of Walters. As he looked up and saw a plane flying over him, Moore said to himself, “Some day I'm going to do that,” he wrote in his memoir.
His early fascination with flight led to a career as a pilot and aerial photographer that spanned more than 60 years. Moore, 97, died Tuesday at his Edmond home of a sudden illness.
His wife, Mary, said he last piloted a plane on his 91st birthday and still had a passion for aviation. He was eager to see what would come next.
“He felt so blessed to be born when he was, and he felt like he lived in the best of times and was privileged to see it all develop and play a small part in it,” Mary Moore said.
During his life, Moore flew more than 25,000 hours in 70 different aircraft, most recently a Cessna single-engine plane. He was involved in numerous aviation organizations including the Oklahoma City Aviation Club, Air and Industrial Kiwanis Club, the FAA Flight Standard Retirement Club and the Quiet Birdmen, a local aviation enthusiast group.
Moore attended Oklahoma A&M from 1935-38 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. After the war he worked as an air traffic controller before starting an aerial photography business in 1947, a business he owned until 2006. Moore photographed the 1947 Woodward tornado from the air.
One of Moore's great joys was witnessing advancements in aviation and technology throughout his lifetime. He wrote in his memoir about all the things he had seen: the development of cars, paved roads, computers, jet aircraft, the space program and wind and solar power.
“I can only say ‘Thank you, God,'” he wrote.
Moore is survived by wife of 42 years and his sons from his first marriage, Larry and Gordon Moore, and two adopted children, Leah Howlett and Eden Hinton. Funeral arrangements are pending.