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-   -   Tom Irlbeck (https://vansairforce.net/community/showthread.php?t=159601)

LettersFromFlyoverCountry 04-15-2018 04:01 PM

Tom Irlbeck
 
Famed RV-8 pilot Tom Irlbeck was killed in an accident in Florida today.

Tom is near the top of the list of a who's who of RV builders and pilots.

http://www.mnwing.org/completed-rvs/tom-irlbeck/

Neal Trombley 04-15-2018 07:51 PM

Tom was a huge part of our EAA66 at page in ft Myers
He was more than a mentor.
In my two short years knowing Mr Irlbeck he was always available and made time for who needed his advice. The young eagles he flew always had that RV Grin always.

The RV world lost an all star.

My prayers are to his family


AlexPeterson 04-15-2018 08:23 PM

This is a very difficult day. Tom was a flying mentor and a good friend, having transition trained me in RV's almost 17 years ago, as well as having made the first flight in my plane.

A very short flying background on Tom. He joined the Navy during the Vietnam era, and flew just short of 200 combat missions (IIRC) in F4's from carriers. After his tours in VN, he was selected to be in the first group of Top Gun instructors when that school was formed. He flew for the airlines after leaving the Navy, retiring from Northwest in about the late 1990's. He built his RV8 and finished it in 2000. I believe he put about 2000 hours on it, flying it back and forth to FL from WI every winter/summer since then. A couple years ago, he acquired one of the few ratings he never had, his glider instructor certificate. He became very involved in glider clubs both in Florida and Wisconsin. I recall he had logged more than 25,000 flight hours.

I don't know how many first flights he made for builders of RV's, but quite some time ago he told me it was over 40.

As facts become known, they surely will be posted here, but Tom's last flight was in a glider.

Please keep his wife Katy, as well as their two sons and their families in your prayers.

dougweil 04-17-2018 12:02 PM

Hello all,

I?d like to add my comments to the passing of Tom Irlbeck. He was one of the mainstays of the Twin Cities RV Builders group. I had known Tom for over 25 years. I gave him his BFRs for the last 10 years or so. A great friend and a great aviator. Here my thoughts on our club website:

http://www.mnwing.org

Bob Martin 04-17-2018 12:38 PM

Thanks
 
Thanks Bob and Doug.......for the links..
I enjoyed the reading.....
RIP Tom...Blue Skys

petehowell 04-18-2018 06:12 AM

I used to.........
 
As others have said, Tom was quite a guy, friendly, approachable, yet larger than life in the best possible way.

Tom gave my wife her first ride in his Blue RV-8 "Bear" where she had such a good time in his plane, but more so with him, that she was grins all weekend! I sent his name in to Van's as the person who referred me so he could get as he called it, "Beer Money"

My favorite Tom story was from a trip the Twin Cities group took up to Superior, WI for breakfast. One of us would give a position report over a little town on the way up, and no matter what the town, with perfect timing, Tom would chime in with, "I used to know a girl in that town". We'd all laugh, and just knew, Tom was always a true Naval Aviator.

He was the best, and we will all miss him.

rv7boy 04-18-2018 10:58 AM

Tom Irlbeck's article
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dougweil (Post 1253730)
Hello all,

I?d like to add my comments to the passing of Tom Irlbeck. He was one of the mainstays of the Twin Cities RV Builders group. I had known Tom for over 25 years. I gave him his BFRs for the last 10 years or so. A great friend and a great aviator. Here my thoughts on our club website:

http://www.mnwing.org

And I'll add the link provided by Doug on his site. This is an article written by Tom Irlbeck several years ago. I never met him, but his words are worthy of our attention. I encourage you to read this.

AlexPeterson 04-18-2018 02:26 PM

Here's a picture of Tom in "Bear" way back in 2001. He's the only person I'd ever let fly anywhere near that close to me!


aarvig 04-18-2018 09:56 PM

Such a good man...
 
I met Tom at a Twin Cities RV fly-in at KANE several years ago. I was a fledgling pilot who was trying to determine whether to build an RV-9A or an RV-7A. I was having a conversation about this decision with a friend of mine named Tom Berge. Tom B. was chatting with my wife and I about this decision and he said; "Well, the main difference is whether or not you want to do light aerobatics." I told him "I don't know if I like aerobatics, I've never done them." To which Tom B. said; "Then there is someone I need to introduce you to." Tom B. took me over to a very naval aviator looking gentlemen who was Tom Irlbeck. Tom B. introduced me to Tom Irlbeck and explained my decision. With a grin going from ear to ear Tom Irlbeck looked at his blue RV-8 and then at me and said; "Well, theres only one way to find out if you like aero or not. Wanna go?" Of course...I went. I knew I was in for a treat when I heard Tom request a performance take-off. What a ride. I was laughing the whole time. Cuban eights, barrel rolls, loops, stalls, immelmanns, the whole nine yards.
I'll never forget my flight with Tom. I had the privilege to speak to him on several occasions during my build and he was always a patient teacher. I enjoyed my brief time with him immensely, each time knowing I was in the presence of greatness.
Tom, thank you for influencing my life, for being an example of a professional aviator, for putting a smile on my face and my wife at ease. Blue skies and tailwinds...

butch 04-19-2018 06:50 AM

Bear
 
Tom and RV-8 ?Bear? will remain in our hearts and be sorely missed.

My prayers to the family.

Butch


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