Brian Power-Waters, aviator and competitive senior athlete

Brian Power-Waters
Brian Power-Waters (Baltimore Sun)

Brian Power-Waters, whose boyhood dream of becoming an aviator led to a long career as a military and commercial pilot and, at age 78, took him back to the skies in ultralight planes and hang gliders, died July 21 after surgery at Shore Medical Center in Chestertown. He was 91.

Mr. Power-Waters, who was born in London and emigrated to New York with his parents in the 1920s, caught the flying bug in the era of Charles Lindbergh. He developed an enthusiasm for flight while watching planes at Long Island's Roosevelt Field, famed as the takeoff point for Lindbergh's historic trans-Atlantic flight in 1927.


Mr. Power-Waters took flying lessons at a now-abandoned airport in the borough of Queens. He had his first solo flight at age 16, and he earned his pilot's license less than a year later.

Because he was not yet a citizen, Mr. Power-Waters was unable to join the U.S. armed forces during World War II. In 1943, he went to Canada and became a flight engineer with the Royal Canadian Air Force.


Returning to the U.S. after the war, he gained his citizenship and joined the newly formed Air Force, serving five years of active duty before joining the Reserves. He eventually attained the rank of major.

In 1954, Mohawk Airlines hired Mr. Power-Waters as a pilot. He flew with that regional airline until it was acquired in 1972 by Allegheny Airlines, forerunner of US Airways.

During his years with Mohawk, Mr. Power-Waters met and married a flight attendant, Kay Lawrence. The couple lived in New York City and Long Island for several years before relocating to Maryland and building a house on the Eastern Shore in the early 1970s. For several years, Mr. Power-Waters flew passenger planes out of the nation's capital and Baltimore.

Faced with mandatory retirement at age 60, Mr. Power-Waters ended his 28-year career in commercial flight with US Airways in 1982.

Concerned about what he considered troubling trends and practices in commercial aviation, Mr. Power-Waters wrote a series of books on flight safety, air-traffic control and federal regulation of the airlines. Some of the books were published while Mr. Power-Waters was still employed by Allegheny or US Airways.

"The first book was called 'Safety Last,'" said his wife. "He was concerned about all aspects of safety, the understaffing of air-traffic controllers and the long hours they were working."

Mr. Power-Waters also continued to fly. He became an aerial acrobat, competing in his Pitts S-1S, a biplane designed specifically for aerobatics, in contests in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

At age 78, Mr. Power-Waters learned how to fly ultralight planes and flew them from a friend's farm in Church Hill in Queen Anne's County. He also took up hang gliding by attending classes and taking wing at Oregon Ridge, his wife said.

Mr. Power-Waters worked hard at keeping himself in good physical condition, running and lifting weights regularly. According to a 2004 article in an Eastern Shore newspaper, Mr. Power-Waters won numerous medals and trophies in track-and-field competitions for seniors. He finished first in a national weightlifting pentathlon, and he bench-pressed 290 pounds at age 79.

Qualifying for the World Masters Games in Australia in October 2009, Mr. Power-Waters traveled with his wife to Sydney. He competed in several field events, finishing first in the hammer, javelin, shot put, discus and 12-pound weight throw.

However, on the last day of the games, Mr. Power-Waters sustained serious brain damage when, according to his wife, he fell while trying to catch a ride to an event aboard a golf cart. Mr. Power-Waters spent four weeks in a Sydney hospital before traveling back to his home in Centreville. After the injury, he was unable to fly again or resume his workouts.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Aug. 6 at St. Christopher's Church, 861 Harbor Drive in Chester.


In addition to his wife of 58 years, Mr. Power-Waters is survived by four daughters, Lisette Brosan of Annapolis, Laurette Bollinger of Bel Air, Linette Tinelli of Grasonville and Lanette Power-Waters of Queenstown; and nine grandchildren.

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