Ora Cook Passed on Last year?


Active Member
Oct 25, 2020
orig Northville, Mich
YG4 Air Command Tandem
Total Flight Time
800 hrs
(Searched this forum and found nothing, but perhaps that is just the RF search function.)

Learned of Ora Cook's passing just last week at the Barnstormer's Fly-In. Does anyone have any more they can add to this? Thanks.

My own, personal Ora Cook anecdote and tribute: (Sorry this is so late, Ora. But I don’t really think ya mind, time don’t mean all that much ennymo, eh?)

We met Ora and his wife at Bensen Days 2011, our RV was parked next to his. My step daughter and Ora got along famously, and it wasn't long before he got around to asking about my flying experience with gyros. When I told him I was down since my Air Command Tandem had suffered an (Arrow) engine out due to someone's malicious tampering with my fuel oil, he offered to sell me his Air Command with a working Arrow GT1000 for $4500.00 in flying condition with the original 28' Skywheels and a one-off wood luan flying tail he was quite proud of having built back in the day. In other words, he all but gave it to us just so I could take Xiu Xiu flying! Kids.

I returned home to GA, then drove down with the gyro trailer to his home in Florida the following week to pick it up. He tried to get me to take a nice Subaru 2.2, but I left it there (no desire to go down that rabbit hole).

When I recounted this story later, folks said, "No way, Ora never gave away anything in his life!" But it's all true, and we became fast friends.

I had my original Air Command tandem that I had already converted to a custom CLT configuration back in the air within another two weeks and Xiu Xiu, mama, and I all went flying a lot in that gyro after that.

The following year the telecom I was a regional manager for (Georgia Region) got bought up and I found myself out of a job, thank-you-very-much-we-can-get-someone-half-your-age-at-1/4-the-salary-Mr.-Mills. So I used all that newly-found spare time to build the first, successful, Yamaha 4-cylinder aircraft using Ora's low-rider airframe while I continued to fly the AC Arrow CLT.

Ora got quite a kick out of what I did to his Air Command that following year, started flying it November 2012 and brought it Bensen Days the following spring.

Sadly, I rolled it taking off from a deserted tidal island off the Savannah, GA coast in ‘16 and trashed those sweet Skywheels and Ora's beautiful, custom flying tail. After coming across the vicious attack posts that a few "nice" folks wrote on RF about that incident I resigned as secretary of the PRA, finishing out my 3rd year term, quit flying, and never worked on another gyrocopter of my own again. The broken "Wicked" sat, along with my two other gyros, collecting dust and cobwebs.

There was this guy, kept calling me up, pestering and buggin me, would not leave me alone, until I finally agreed to put a YG4 on the back of his open-frame Air Command tandem. Ya see, years earlier he'd come to me about it, and I told him, "When that Soobie brick breaks down, we'll talk. Until then, enjoy yer ride and keep a sharp eye out for ELZ's." One day he called. "The Soob broke. Now ya gotta put that Yammie on it for me."

$#~!t. {Why do I always do this to myself?} So I went for the gusto. I built that thing with the world's first, and most powerful HP-to-weight, factory-stock, non-boosted, aircraft conversion engine of all time: Yamaha Genesis 4-cylinder (YG4) Apex EXUP 165 HP, 118 lbs bare engine weight with injection bodies and starter motor attached, 165 lbs all-up installed leaving out only the battery. Titanium exhaust, baby, with electronically-controlled BP valve! Nothing else like it on an aircraft anywhere. Period. End of discussion.

Well, I had to test it, now, din’t I? Damn. Called up Jon Carleton, made an appointment to get current, then went back home to Columbia and tested this new gyro I dubbed "Godzilla". You wanna talk about kicking ass and taking names, this was it, shut up and sit your ass down, junior. Yes, those test flights got my juices flowing again alrighty and I found mesef thinkin’, "OK, won’t touch another customer order or do another thing until I get the Wicked flying again."

But it took more than that.

Somewhere along the road fate brought me a new friend after moving from Savannah to Columbia. This guy just kept bugging and pestering, cajoling and ribbing me until he wore me down and finally, finally, finally I actually fixed the low rider Yamaha and flew it again for the first time since May ’16, on 8/1/20.

But guess what? There it sat until Barnstormers approached, and then on 10/20/20 I flew it again to merely shake it out a bit before trailering up to the event. Once there I had a blast flying along with the guys, first time I ever flew in anything at all at a Barnstormer's gathering.

Last month I flew 200 miles to Wrens and back on the same day. I was fine until the last 15 miles, then butt-itis and left foot pins-and-needles set in and I could NOT wait to land and put her up. An AC is NOT a Eurotub, folks. It is NOT comfortable for flying 3 hour trips.

When Barnstormers came up I decided to break up the (nearly identical distance, exactly opposite heading) 200 miles of flying into two days, one there the other returning. THAT was MUCH more comfortable!

I guess this means I'm actually, fully, back flying my gyros again. Oh, well. Ya can the boy out of the country, but ya cain't take the country outta...

So, here she is, re-christened in this new configuration as the "Gunslinger" (F.K.A. "the Wicked") I present Ora Cook's Air Command tandem.

In closing:
My SC buddy fixed the one wheel pant I broke in the '16 rollover for me, wouldn't take anything for his work. He did a bang-up job, baby-butt smooth and the patch is as thin as ya please. You'd never know it had ever been broken, even if ya took it off and inspected the innerds. I hooked up the paint gun, slapped some red on ‘em, and was mighty damn proud of how sweet these babies turned out - just in time for Barnstormer's last weekend.

Ora would ‘ve been pleased. Rest in Peace, ole buddy. You’re with me every time I fly the Gunslinger, ya old coot, and together we kick ass and take names, no apologies.

Gunslinger 100x125.jpg
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