More detail on this person: James Donald Coates, 58, a resident of Canby, Oregon, passed away
on May 13, 2011 surrounded by family and friends. James Coates was born in Roswell, New Mexico on
November 21, 1952 to Vada H. and William T. Coates. Jim graduated from Powell County High School
in Deer Lodge, Montana in 1970.
Jim's father, a pilot in the Air Force, inspired him to pursue a career in aviation. Jim earned his wings 38 years ago as a Warrant Officer / helicopter pilot in the United States Army. He then went on to serve in the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, KY flying UH-1 Huey. In 1973, Jim left active duty and returned to Montana where he joined the Air National Guard. He met Eileen M. Kelly in 1976 when they were both attending the University of Montana and they were married 33 years ago.
In 1979 Jim joined Columbia Helicopters and became highly proficient flying every aircraft the company owned. After 17 years of serving as a command pilot in the field, he was promoted to Chief Pilot. He was certified by the FAA as a Certified Flight Instructor and Pilot Proficiency Examiner. Jim was given the title of Designated Pilot Examiner in the BV234, the largest FAA certified helicopter in the world. Since 1996, he was the only pilot in the world with this designation.
Jim held many management positions at Columbia Helicopters (CHI) which included Chief Pilot, Director of Operations and, finally, Director of Safety. During his career, he amassed nearly 20,000 flight hours working on 5 of the 7 continents which not only included North America (Alaska, Canada and the majority of the 48 states) but also the Arctic Circle, the deserts of Africa and, the jungles of Peru, Ecuador and Papua New Guinea. Jim is described by his colleagues as dedicated, tenacious and committed to his career - traits which stand as a testament to CHI and the field of aviation.
He was well known for his wry sense of humor and deep belly laugh. He took great pride in his 1947 V-tailed Bonanza airplane, his game of golf and his writing skills. He was a dedicated reader and you could always find him finishing the crossword puzzle. Above all, he was an avid fisherman - one of his favorite things to do was head down to the Rouge River to catch a salmon or steelhead.
Survivors include his wife; father Major "USAF RET." William T. Coates (Nevada); sisters Patricia Goeppinger (Nevada), Shirley Mayfield (California), and Mary Hart (Montana). He was preceded in death by his mother, Vada H. Coates. James' interment will be on June 17th at the Willamette National Veterans Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
Burial information: Willamette National Veterans Cemetery Portland, OR
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
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