Jim Tilmon was a child who wished to fly.
He grew up, earned his flying license and have become an airline pilot, rising to the rank of captain at American Airways throughout a 34-year aviation profession.
Mr. Tilmon, 60, of Rockford, died Sunday of issues from kidney most cancers, in response to his father, retired Chicago climate forecaster and information anchor Jim Tilmon.
Mr. Tilmon realized to fly by sitting within the leap seat subsequent to his father, a fellow pilot whose aviation information was typically tapped throughout WMAQ and WBBM broadcasts for perception on various kinds of airplanes and analyses of airplane crashes and near-misses.
The previous forecaster mentioned his son’s experience and give attention to security made him the very best pilot he ever noticed and that, each time he was about to journey a brand new route, he would dive into aviation homework.
“He would start a week ahead, studying the route, studying the charts, all the frequencies and all the radios, all the idiosyncrasies about the airport and the aircraft, right down to the last rivet,” the elder Tilmon mentioned. “He literally would fly it ‘on the ground.’ The day he was ready to fly, it was automatic. I didn’t know anyone else who ever did that.”
“He made young pilots be better pilots,” his father mentioned. “He wanted to pass on the tricks, the knowledge you don’t get from books.”
His widow Laurie Tilmon, a flight attendant, agreed.
“The night before a route, he would be looking at the route and the weather,” she mentioned. “Issues that pilots usually do on the airplane, he would do the evening earlier than. I’ve by no means in my life met anyone so passionate as he was about flying. A airplane would fly over that I may hardly see, and he’d acknowledge it. Or he’d hear an engine beginning up someplace, and he would know what it was.
“He was an old-school pilot, the kind who stands at the door to greet the passengers,” she mentioned. “When they leave, he stood at the door, and he would say goodbye to every passenger.”
Mr. Tilmon was an attentive husband, father and stepfather who at all times was out there to his household, his spouse mentioned: “I never had anybody take care of me like that in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever had to put gas in my car since I met him.”
He did a lot of the household paperwork, and he left directions about taking good care of the household’s accounts after he was gone.
“He did the bills on August 18, and he died on August 23,” she mentioned.
Mr. Tilmon additionally appeared out for his flight crews, ensuring they’d meals, serving to them make connections, even monitoring down gadgets they left behind on planes.
Younger Jim had his first flying classes at what was then known as Palwaukee Airport. He went to Highland Park Excessive Faculty and Elgin Academy earlier than attending DePaul College.
Earlier than American, he labored for different airways, together with Piedmont, USAir and US Airways.
Along with flying, his different ardour was soccer. His favourite group was FC Barcelona.
Regardless of his most cancers analysis and having to bear chemotherapy, till a 12 months in the past he was nonetheless taking part in soccer twice per week.
“He played with a bunch of Polish guys on Fridays,” his spouse mentioned.
He had a present for choosing up languages, she mentioned: “He could converse with a lot of people.”
If he bought right into a cab and the motive force was from one other nation, by journey’s finish he’d have realized how one can say whats up, goodbye and thanks of their language, she mentioned.
Along with his spouse and father, Mr. Tilmon is survived by his sons Marcus and Conner, stepsons Ryan and Wynn Schoeneck, his mom Louise, sister Thera and brother John, his father’s spouse Joan and 4 grandchildren.
Due to the pandemic, his father, now 86, wasn’t capable of journey from his dwelling in Scottsdale, Arizona, to see him.
“We felt it just wasn’t safe to fly,” he mentioned. “We were able to have a nice Zoom conversation with each other.”
After Mr. Tilmon returned dwelling from a flight, with out fail, he’d manage his uniform and wings for his subsequent journey. Due to his sickness and coverings, the final time he went via that routine was in October 2018.
His spouse mentioned his uniform has “been sitting in the closet all ready to go for his next trip. I took the whole thing to the funeral home, and that’s how they’ll cremate him. This will be his last flight.”