Jack Burke Obituary
Jack Warner Burke photos Jack Warner Burke photos

There are 30 photos in the gallery

Service Information

 
In Memory of

Jack Warner Burke

August 7, 1922 - December 5, 2013
Obituary

Jack W. Burke, longtime Pan Am pilot and resident of the Seattle area, passed away in Hospice care on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2013 at the Fleming House. He was born on the homestead near Ismay, Mont. on Aug. 7, 1922 to J.C. and Catherine Warner Burke. In 1923 the family moved to Ismay where his father ran a grain elevator. Later they moved to Miles City when his father became operator of the International Elevator on Main St. at the subway where Jack worked long hours unloading boxcars and generally helping his dad. In high school Jack skipped last period study halls and went to the airport and did any odd jobs they had there. In payment for...
Jack W. Burke, longtime Pan Am pilot and resident of the Seattle area, passed away in Hospice care on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2013 at the Fleming House. He was born on the homestead near Ismay, Mont. on Aug. 7, 1922 to J.C. and Catherine Warner Burke. In 1923 the family moved to Ismay where his father ran a grain elevator. Later they moved to Miles City when his father became operator of the International Elevator on Main St. at the subway where Jack worked long hours unloading boxcars and generally helping his dad. In high school Jack skipped last period study halls and went to the airport and did any odd jobs they had there. In payment for working there he was taught to fly. He went to work for George Askin flying to the well sites being drilled and hunting coyotes to sell the pelts. Jack graduated from Custer County High School in 1940 and went on to the University of Montana and studied premed because his mother wanted him to become a doctor. Meanwhile, Jack only wanted to fly. He was flying at age 14 and never looked back.

Soon he was flying the bush in Alaska for Pan Am with no instruments and only a dog sled driver aboard to tell him which were the safe canyons. During World War II he flew in the Aleutian Islands, then served in both the Air Force and Navy in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On the first day of the Tet Offensive, he managed to land his 707 in Saigon, rescued more than 200 trapped Vietnamese and delivered them to safety while surrounded by ground fire.

He retired from Pan Am in 1982 after 40 years as an instructor, check pilot and Chief Pilot ...although he preferred to fly. He said he would have flown for free after retirement if they would have let him. In 2010 Jack wrote a book titled A LIFE ALOFT about growing up in eastern Montana and his love for flying.

Jack and his high school sweetheart, Alma (Scottie) Trafton were married 65 years when she passed away in 2007. He is survived by two children, Shawn and Shannon Burke, two grandsons, a great-granddaughter all near Seattle, and several nieces and nephews.In Lieu of flowers, please make donations to Toys for Tots.

Share your memories or express your condolences by signing the Guest Book below or click here for entry suggestions.

"Just last saturday, july 5th I was in Foynes for the 75th anniversary of the Pan American Flying Boats, I bought Capt Burkes book and I am currently reading..."

Submit Guest Book Entry
This Guest Book has 12 entries. View Complete Guest Book

More Obituaries

Seattle Times, The
Jack W. BURKE August 7, 1922 ~ December 5, 2013 Jack W. Burke, longtime Pan Am pilot and resident of the Seattle area, passed away in Hospice...

Read obituary at Seattle Times, The.

Seattle Times, The
Capt. Jack W. Burke 8/7/1922 ~ 12/5/2013 Memorial Service at Yarington's / White Center Funeral Home 12/14/2013 at 1:00 p.m.

Read obituary at Seattle Times, The.

Personalize Your Tribute

Share photos, videos and more with Legacy Memorial Websites. Find out more.

 
Start Planning Today

Make Your Plan Today

Preplanning your funeral or cemetery arrangements gives you and your loved ones peace of mind. Don't wait. Make your plan online today.
Plan Online Now

Audio Condolences

Use your phone to dial in a free personalized message. Click here to make an entry or listen to recordings from friends and family.