More detail on this person: Gary Cochran saved lives as pilot for hospitals, safety coordinator For more than two decades, Gary Cochran helped save countless lives as he flew his helicopter over the skies of Central Florida. As lead pilot for Orlando Regional Healthcare's Air Care Team, Cochran was responsible for flying medical teams to the critically ill or injured, and returning the crew and patients safely to major medical centers for lifesaving care. Cochran, of Orlando, died Oct. 18 of complications from a heart attack. He was 60. A longtime employee of Omniflight Helicopters Inc., based in Addison, Texas, which provides air-medical services throughout the country, Cochran was the base manager for Orlando Regional's Air Care Team, which he helped establish in 1984. "He was there at the beginning. He helped establish the aviation part of the program," said Jeanne Martel of Orlando, Cochran's life partner of 22 years. "He had a lifelong interest and love for flying and just a quiet devotion to service. He loved being part of a team and working together to do what needed to be done." During his 22-year career with Omniflight, Cochran also served as coordinator of emergency-medical-service operations for the eastern United States and director of safety for the company. He traveled to hospitals across the country to help develop or enhance the operations of their air-medical services. "I could put my trust in him. He instilled confidence in everyone," said Gaylan Crowell, chief executive of Omniflight. "He worked very well with the medical crews and was very dedicated to his mission, which was the safe transport of critically ill patients." Before joining Omniflight, Cochran served as lead pilot for Alachua General Hospital in Gainesville and Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania. He also flew for oil and forestry companies. Born near Little Rock, Ark., and raised in the Peoria, Ill., area, he attended Eastern Illinois University before joining the Army and completing U.S. Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala. A warrant officer during the Vietnam War, Cochran served as a medical-evacuation and combat pilot, receiving two Purple Hearts for injuries sustained in separate combat operations. "On one mission his helicopter was shelled and shot down and he took shrapnel in the head," Martel said. "Months after that, he was shot . . . and was able to continue flying his helicopter safely back to base with his wound and get his crew to safety." Cochran later served as an Army flight instructor at Fort Wolters in Texas. "Doing for others, helping others, guiding and educating others, whether it was his family or in his professional life or in his early years of his service to country, he always did it quietly and without fanfare," Martel said. "He just thought he was doing his duty and his job." Survivors also include a son, Michael Cochran of Arlington, Texas; a daughter, Jennifer Gainer of Hurst, Texas; a brother, Thomas Cochran of Pinehurst, N.C.; a sister, Dianne Harrison of Naples and Yorba Linda, Calif.; and five grandchildren.
This information was last updated 08/29/2017
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 09/05/2022
Copyright © 1998 - 2022 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association