Friday, March 27, 2009
More to the story: Relatives Remember F-22 Pilot
COLLINSVILLE -- David Cooley was born to fly, his father said a day after Cooley's jet crashed in Southern California.
Cooley, 49, was a 21-year Air Force veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel and went to work for Lockheed Martin testing jets. Cooley was flying an F-22 on Wednesday when he crashed in the Mojave Desert and was killed.
David Cooley attended Belleville East High School and played soccer. From there, he went to the U.S. Air Force Academy and became a pilot. Cooley lived with his family in Lancaster, Calif., near Edwards Air Force Base.
The Cooley family moved to the metro-east in 1971, first to Fairview Heights and eventually Collinsville. Bill Cooley, who still lives in Collinsville, said his son loved to fly from his youth.
"He just loved it, he couldn't wait to get in the air," Bill Cooley said.
"I think he's flown about every fighter in the Air Force," Bill Cooley said. "David enjoyed his flying, he really did."
On the ground, David was well-liked, Bill Cooley said. Among David's hobbies was cycling -- he was almost a career cyclist, going on 100-mile rides through the west, his father said.
"He was a warm individual, very caring, and he would help anyone who needed help," Bill Cooley said. "He was a devoted family man -- he has a wife and three children. ... He was devoted to his job and to his family."
David's mother has passed away, but he had many friends throughout the area, Bill Cooley said.
"I loved him very dearly," his father said. "He had a good life."
Read the full story HERE.