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A Happy Birthday for Aerobatic Hall of Famer Marion Cole

Marion Cole in the cockpit of friend Carl Hennigan’s Decathlon on his 85th birthday.

Pictured (l to r) are Jay Smith, camera plane pilot; Marion Cole, Carl Hennigan, and photographer Robert Baillio.

December 15, 2009 — When air show performing legend Marion Cole celebrated his 85th birthday on December 9, friends decided to provide him with some time in the air. And since the EAA B-17 was on a tour stop in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, they got together and provided Cole with a flight on Aluminum Overcast.

Carl Hennigan, of nearby Benton, had another thought. Cole, EAA 48 and a Lifetime Member, still has his medical, so Hennigan let the ICAS and IAC hall of famer take his Decathlon up while he sat in the back seat of the two-place tandem aircraft. Cole likes to have someone with him when he flies nowadays.

“Oh, we had a big day in Shreveport,” said Hennigan, who owns Cole’s former hangar at the Shreveport Downtown Airport (DTN). “Marion pretty much trained all of us down here. He still flies, and his favorite airplane to fly is the Super Decathlon. He’s taken care of us all these years; we’re taking care of him now.”

They also took the opportunity to shoot some air-to-air photos, with another Decathlon piloted by Jay Smith, EAA 622388, serving as the shooting platform. The Photographer was Robert Baillio, EAA 670666. An interesting side note: Baillio happens to be the current owner of Paul Poberezny’s Acro Sport II.

Following the photo shoot, Cole did some aerobatic maneuvers. “He can still fly the pants off anyone,” Hennigan stated. “Yes, he’s still got it.”

Cole started flying air shows in 1946 and was an early member of the EAA - even attended meetings when they were held in Milwaukee. He flew in the air shows of almost every convention in Oshkosh through the mid-1990s and has logged more than 30,000 hours of flight time in aircraft types too numerous to list here.

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