June 5, 1939 – April 5, 2020
Allan (Al) Blake 80, beloved husband, father and grandfather, flew his “final flight west” on April 5, 2020 after a long battle with a dementia-related illness. He was born June 5, 1939 and raised in Albany, Oregon, son of David G. and Alberta M. Blake. At an early age, he developed many hobbies including building model airplanes, and a soap box derby car which he raced. Along the way, he learned skills later leading to an amazing ability to build, repair or restore almost anything from cars to planes, boats and even a steam train.
After his high school graduation in 1957, Al enrolled at Northrup Institute in Los Angeles where he earned certification in the aviation and power plant program. Along with a friend, he bought an old Luscombe airplane in pieces, towed it back to Albany and restored it to airworthiness. Flying lessons followed and thus began a love of aviation that spanned his entire lifetime.
His flying career started in 1961 as a flight engineer for Pacific Northern Airlines (PNA). After a furlough, he enlisted in the Naval Reserves and later continued flying as a corporate pilot until 1965 when he was recalled by PNA. That company later merged with Western Airlines and subsequently Delta Airlines. In 1999, after a 34 year career flown mostly as a Captain in Seattle, he flew his last DAL flight to SeaTac Airport with his daughter Stephanie, then a pilot for Skywest Airlines, on his jump seat. His other daughter, Susie, continued the legacy as a flight attendant for United Airlines where Stephanie was hired the following year.
In 1968 he married Shann Volkel, a former flight attendant for Northwest Airlines and his loving wife of 51 years. They made their home in Issaquah, WA where they raised their two daughters. When Al wasn’t flying, he pursued many interests including involvement in Aerodyne, a family owned business on the Renton Airport. Often in the summer months there were fun camping trips with friends along with many flights to the family summer home in Powell River, BC where boating and salmon fishing were favorite pastimes.
After retirement, Al and Shann enjoyed flying places in their Bonanza, road trips in their Model A or motorhome and many wonderful cruises with friends. Whether at home working on projects in his well-equipped shop or at his hangar, he was never too busy to help out a friend in need. That kindness with a big smile, warm heart and gentle soul was his hallmark throughout life. He will be dearly missed by all.
Al was a proud member of the Quiet Birdmen (QB) Seattle Hangar, the Evergreen Model As and the Conejo Valley Model As. He is survived by his wife Shann of Issaquah, his daughters Stephanie Russell (Marc) Simi Valley, California, Susie Lane (John) Seattle, grandchildren: Katie Russell, Charlie Lane, Jenny Peterson, Jon Russell and great granddaughter, Claudia Russell. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother David.
Due to the current pandemic, a celebration of Al’s life will be postponed to a later date. The family suggests remembrances on his behalf to the Museum of Flight.