America Airlines – Chicago information broadcaster Jim Tilmon dies at 86
Jim Tilmon, a trusted Chicago TV newsman, meteorologist and pioneering aviator, has died at 86 in Arizona, the place he’d retired.
Mr. Tilmon died Saturday afternoon, in response to Frank Whittaker, station supervisor of WMAQ-TV, the place Mr. Tilmon labored for greater than 22 years. The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster labored 4 extra years at WTTW-TV.
Mr. Tilmon additionally was one of many nation’s first Black business airline pilots and the third African American pilot employed by American Airlines, for which he flew for 29 years.
The nice Jim Tilmon died in the present day in Phoenix at age 86. A veteran of WTTW, WMAQ and WBBM, Jim is beloved and remembered as a complete gentleman and nice colleague. Blessings to him and to the love of his life, Joan, children and grandkids.
— Carol Marin (@CarolMarin) January 16, 2021
He did this in an period when some white passengers mistook his uniform for that of a skycap and tried to tip him to hold their baggage.
On TV, his authoritative voice and aviation experience made for a reassuring on-air presence, particularly when there have been near-misses or aircraft crashes. Mr. Tilmon would use model airplanes to reveal to the viewing viewers what had gone incorrect.
Mr. Tilmon died about 5 months after the passing of his son, additionally named Jim Tilmon. The youthful Mr. Tilmon additionally was a pilot and flew for American Airlines till his dying at 60 from issues of kidney most cancers.
“He learned to fly by sitting in the jump seat in airplanes, flying with me,” Mr. Tilmon stated after his son’s dying.
Although he retired from TV round 2005, Mr. Tilmon remained a preferred determine in Chicago. When he’d come again for visits and stroll down Michigan Avenue, he was stopped always by individuals who stated they’d watched him for years and trusted his reporting.
Mr. Tilmon began his broadcasting profession by internet hosting WTTW’s “Our Folks,’’ a program about Black folks and points that ran from 1968 to 1972.
“It gave visibility and voice to a people who had none,” he as soon as stated.
“It was originally intended to be a lighthearted entertainment show,” Mr. Tilmon stated in a Channel 11 put up. “But it premiered a week after Dr. King was assassinated, and immediately, it turned into something much more serious. We were giving voice to people who felt at that time that they were voiceless. We wanted to fill a void… do a service.”
The present’s friends included Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Oscar Brown Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Ossie Davis and future Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
WTTW referred to as this system “the first televised weekly forum focusing on African American issues.” In an announcement issued after Mr. Tilmon’s dying, the station stated “Jim’s contributions as a meteorologist, author, pilot, and newsmaker will not be forgotten.”
After “Our People,” he moved to WMAQ.
Mr. Tilmon was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to oldsters who have been educators, in response to his official biography.
The primary time he noticed a aircraft he was 5, within the sky close to his dwelling. He wrote in a weblog put up that he “decided that day to become a commercial airline pilot, a nearly impossible dream for a Black kid in 1939.”
“I asked Daddy, ‘Can I be a pilot?’ ” Mr. Tilmon recalled in a WTTW “Chicago Tonight” interview.
His father responded by asking, “Are you willing to pay the price?”
He was. “I still, to this day, carry that kind of thinking,” Mr. Tilmon stated.
He blogged that his success grew of “a strong belief that he would reach his goal regardless of what others thought or what opposition he might face along the way.”
He majored in music at Lincoln College in Missouri, the place he pursued his dream of being an aviator in school ROTC packages, although he stated one flight teacher advised him, “You lack the intelligence and the aptitude… to be a modern jet pilot.”
After school, he entered the army, serving within the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers and flying helicopters and planes.
After he was employed by American Airlines, he recalled the shock and confusion of some passengers at seeing a Black pilot, he advised WTTW: “From time to time, I would get to the gate, and everybody’s kind of lined up and ready to go through, and a little lady would say, ‘Pardon me, are you going to get on this airplane?. . . .Would you carry my bag, please?’ And I’d always say yes.”
As soon as on board, “The lady would say, ‘Thank you very much for taking care of my bag’ and offer me money,” he stated.
When he advised her he wasn’t a skycap, he stated within the WTTW interview, she requested what his job was.
“Ma’am, I’m the pilot,” he advised her. “And it was at all times a glance of: ‘Oh, my God.’ ’
“America,” he stated, “had to grow up a little.”
One other time, an virtually “terror-stricken” passenger requested if he was the pilot. Wanting previous him to the cockpit, she requested whether or not the white man on the controls was a pilot, too. When Mr. Tilmon advised her the opposite man was his copilot, she appeared virtually relieved, he stated.
“The remarkable thing about that, she was black,” he advised WTTW. “A lot of the things that were inflicted on black people turned around, and we began to inflict it on ourselves.”
Later in his profession, he contributed aviation evaluation for TV stations together with Fox associates in Chicago and Phoenix and WBBM-TV.
He appeared in a 1994 episode of the TV present “ER” and had a cameo within the 2012 Bob Zemeckis film “Flight,” starring Denzel Washington.
His former WMAQ broadcasting colleagues praised Mr. Tilmon on social media, with Artwork Norman calling him “a giant” and Carol Marin saying he was “a total gentleman and great colleague.”
Mr. Tilmon by no means misplaced his love for music, enjoying clarinet with the Lake Forest Symphony, in response to his biography.
He and Joan Cuyjet Tilmon have been married in 1988.
In an opinion piece he wrote for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, Mr. Tilmon stated the athletes who raised their fists within the Black energy image on the 1968 Olympics “have been acknowledging the truth that in America we do have issues. Who can deny it? Probably the most lovely factor this nation might have achieved would have been to point out the world that in America we are able to even do this. These athletes are People. They ran below our flag they usually received that means. Can another nation enable, below shut scrutiny, this dimension of freedom? However the way in which it turned out, even america of America couldn’t make the assertion that it sanctioned that silent, but highly effective, demonstration. And the truth that we didn’t made their protest extra viable.”