The Flying O’Connor Brothers

by Laurel | January 31st, 2013


In 1933 there were 17,938 licensed pilots in the United States and 6864 planes. In Springfield, there were 29 licensed pilots, only one among the group female.

And then there was the O’Connor family.

Charles P. O’Connor (b. 1873) was born in Ireland, the son of Patrick O’Connor and Margaret Curran.  Charles married Katie (Katherine or Catherine) Sullivan  the daughter of Thomas Sullivan and Catherine Donnelly on 28 January 1896 in Holyoke, where they both lived.  By 1918 the couple was living in South Hadley on Willimansett Street with seven sons.  The couple had eight children, all boys. While I have no death date for Charles P. O’Connor, his wife Catherine died 30 December 1956.

Not a particularly unusual story in any way, considering the time.  What is remarkable is six of the O’Connor sons became pilots as did two grandsons. Each of the six “Flying O’Connors” contributed in some way to the WWII effort. I’ve spent a little time researching and below is a brief profile of what was learned:

John R. O’Connor (living in Burlington, California in 1956)

Harold T. O’Connor

Jerome B. O’Connor

Charles P. (Chucky) O’Connor – President of O’Connor Aircraft in Albany and former manager of Barnes Airport in Westfield, Mass. Two of his sons became pilots (son Charles P., Jr. worked as Captain for Mohawk Airlines;  John C. O’Connor, another son, died  01 July 1954  in the crash of a two-seater low winged monoplane in Albany, NY)  Charles P. O’Connor, Sr., died May 1970 in Schenectady, NY.

Walter J. O’Connor – Owner of the O’Connor seaplane base, later of Northeast Airmotive Corp/ Agawam Seaplane Base.

William O’Connor – born about 1911, Captain and pilot for Capital Airline, later with United Air where he worked until retirement. Died in Holyoke on 13 December 1983. Was in Air Transport Command flying out of Washington DC in 1943, with a rating of captain.

David J. O’Connor (living in Albany, 1956) Commercial airline pilot, was commissioned as a first lieutenant, for service at Winston-Salem, NC, as a flight service engineer in the US Air Corps during WWII. Earlier, he was instructor with his brother Charles at Barnes airport.

Cornelius M. O’Connor (living in Buffalo, 1956) Flushing, New York for pew-flight training in 1943.

Robert O’Connor, born about 1909, Capital Airlines pilot. Was in Air Transport Command flying out of Washington DC in 1943, with a rating of captain. Sadly, Robert was murdered at the age of 42 by a fugitive from a Virginia mental asylum on his farm in Falls Church, Virginia on May 28, 1952.


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