Obituary - Doyle Vaughan

Doyle Vaughan

Doyle R. Vaughan died Oct. 7 at home, surrounded by his family. He was 87. His family wrote the following.

Doyle was born on Aug. 21, 1933, to Lloyd and Pearl Vaughan at his grandparents farm in Farwell, Texas.

He spent considerable time on his grandparents’ (Henry and Grace Curtis) farm, and there developed traits that characterized the man he became … love of family, love of the Lord, faith, honesty, hard work, compassion for animals and absolute love of music.

As a young boy he one day had an opportunity to attend a fair in New Mexico. A pilot landed his plane in a nearby field and Doyle approached him and was able to sit on the wing. From that day forward it was airplanes. To say that aviation has been his passion since that day in the field would be an understatement. In 1952, Doyle was drafted for the Korean War.

Doyle kept his eyes on the sky. After his discharge from he worked at a local airport, fueling and washing planes to earn enough money to pay for flying lessons. He soloed in 1959 and never looked back.

He did anything he could to build time, flight instructing, charters, and crop-dusting all over the country. He and a friend even owned a music store to earn money to fly.

In 1962 he was selected to be an instructor pilot for the Army in Fort Wolters, Texas. There he taught young officers to fly who were heading to Vietnam. During his stint there he acquired about 5,000 hours of helicopter time. After that Hughes Tool Company hired him as a corporate pilot in California and Nevada. He piloted some of the future astronauts back and forth from New Mexico to Florida as the U.S. began the space missions.

In 1966, while working for Hughes Tool Company in California, Doyle met the love of his life, Diana, a new TWA stewardess. They married in July 1967. In 1968 they moved to Las Vegas, where Doyle worked for Robert Maheu, chief executive for Howard Hughes.

In April 1969 their daughter, Judy, was born. Soon after, Doyle and Diana and their 6-week-old daughter moved to Wyoming, where he operated an FBO in Buffalo for three years as well as instructing and aerial spraying. Their son Kevin was born in Buffalo in 1971. It did not take long to fall in love with Wyoming and the Wyoming way of life. So the decision was extremely difficult to leave for a better job in aviation.

In 1972 Federal Express began and Doyle was hired as one of the first group of pilots. After six months of flying all night (he was an early morning guy) Doyle heard of another start-up company in Texas — Southwest Airlines — and he applied. When Southwest Airlines hired Doyle in 1973 there were 17 pilots, 35 flight attendants, three airplanes and it flew to three cities in Texas. He was so proud to tell that story.

After living in Texas for 11 years the desire to move back to Wyoming was even stronger. He was No. 1 pilot in Houston so he thought the commute was something he could do. In 1984 the family moved to Jackson (the best air service for someone commuting) and have remained here to this day. In 1985 he flew the first 737-300 to land at Jackson Hole Airport. Southwest had 13 ski charters that year from Houston and he flew the first flight and several others that season.

Because of the Age 60 Rule Doyle was forced to retire 1993 from Southwest. After retirement from the airline he continued to help wherever he could with aviation opportunities. He attended career days at the high school, helped load planes at the Young Eagles events, flew charter trips, lobbied for aviation activities and mentored many young pilots.

In 1999 he was appointed to his first of two five -year terms on the Jackson Hole Airport Board. He served twice as president of the board (2004 and 2009). During his tenure they were able to secure an overrun area for the short runway, remodel and expand the airport facility, secure funding for the baggage area, as well as obtain centerline lights.

After his retirement from the board he was appointed to the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission, and served two terms. He is one of the only commissioners to have served who had a commercial aviation background. Doyle is being inducted into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame this year.

During his aviation career, which spans 50 years and more than 28,000 hours flying, Doyle was always a true ambassador of aviation. He counseled young boys and girls wanting to make a career in the field, and he recommended countless people for various aviation jobs. He was responsible for recommending the first female pilot to be hired at Southwest Airlines.

Doyle was active in the Jackson Hole Rotary Supper Club, Teton County Republican Party and the First Baptist Church.

Doyle is survived by his wife of 53 years, Diana; daughter Judy and son-in-law Tom, son Kevin, son Larry and daughter-in-law Ainslie, and granddaughter Shandee, son Lynn, daughter Terri and son-in-law Ed, sister Wilma Fulgham, and sister El Nora Borden.

A memorial service is pending in the future.

Those wishing to memorialize Doyle’s life may consider a gift to the Young Eagles program, introducing kids ages 8 to 17 to aviation,, the First Baptist Church of Jackson or Samaritan’s Purse.

Contact Johanna Love at 732-7071 or

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