Will Martin, 92, passed away peacefully January 13 surrounded by family in Chicago. An accomplished pilot, Will performed in many airshows flying his P-51 Mustang "El Gato," a high-performance WW II fighter plane. His odyssey of buying the Nicaraguan military's fleet of WW II aircraft shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis and returning them to the U.S. became the basis of his book, So I Bought an Air Force, considered a modern aviation classic. Will graduated from the Chicago Public Schools and received his B.S. from Bradley University. Over his career as president of a business consultancy, Will served as a director of the Chicago Better Government Association, the Chicago President's Association, and several manufacturing companies, as well as chairing the board of Moraine Valley Community College. He founded the Squadron 4 Warbirds chapter of the EAA, an international organization of passionate aviation enthusiasts. A former sailboat racer, Will was a lifelong member of the Chicago Yacht Club. In addition to flying and sailing, Will loved his dogs, root beer floats, riding horses and motorcycles, and playing boogie-woogie on the piano. He bought his last motorcycle at age 90, much to the dismay of his daughters, but completely consistent with his approach to life. As one niece said, "Uncle Will taught us adventure." Survivors include his beloved wife of 63 years, Patricia (nee Daggett), his daughters Suzanne (Hart Weichselbaum) and Cassandra (the late James J. Moran), six grandchildren Claire, Paul, Alexandra, Christina, Anastasia, and Andrew, his brother Glenn Martin (Bobbe), and many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins. A memorial service will be held in Chicago at a future date. The EAA has established a scholarship fund in Will's name that will provide young people the chance to learn to fly. For those who wish to donate, visit www.eaa.org/donate
and select "Other Named Scholarship" then enter "Will Martin Flight Training Scholarship."
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Published by Chicago Tribune on Jan. 17, 2021.