Aviation pioneer founded Air Service Corp
Wallace Waterhouse / 1916-2007
Wallace T. Waterhouse built a Hawaii aviation business that spanned nearly 60 years as it met ever-expanding demands for crop-dusting, interisland flights, pilot training and maintenance service for other aircraft businesses.
Waterhouse and his partners formed Murrayair Ltd. in 1948 and later established Air Service Corp. They started O.K. Airlines to provide commuter air service between Oahu and Kauai. It became Princeville Airways and eventually was reorganized as Aloha Island Air.
"He was a real pioneer in Hawaii in respect to agricultural aviation," said George Nottingham, former pilot and longtime friend.
Waterhouse, 90, of Kailua, died Wednesday in Kailua.
He was a machinist and shop supervisor with Douglas Aircraft in California before moving to Hawaii after World War II. His first enterprise, selling American-made sickles in sugar plantation villages on the Big Island, led him to recognize that the small crop-duster planes in operation were not sufficient for the needs of the agriculture industry.
"He brought in Stearman biplanes capable of spreading liquid and dry fertilizers and insecticides without needing to refuel so often," said Nottingham. Waterhouse and Phil Murray adapted those and other aircraft, and later put helicopters in operation at Dole, Del Monte and Libby McNeil pineapple plantations and Amfac sugar fields on the major islands.
The entrepreneurs expanded operations. They contracted to maintain Army planes at Wheeler Field and went on to provide maintenance service for commuter airlines and corporate aircraft. They became a distributor for Cessna aircraft.
"He was highly regarded by the banking and business community," said Nottingham.
"He was my mentor," said pilot Bob Fraker, who joined Murrayair in 1964 and retired as president of Air Service Hawaii. Waterhouse joined with Fraker to develop a flight training center whose students went on to fly for commercial airlines.
"He was a very honest person, a very intelligent guy who was always discussing business or politics. The companies never missed a payroll and always paid their rent."
"He kept going until he was 80," said Fraker.
Although he had experience in many aircraft, Waterhouse was best known for the bright yellow World War II courier plane, a Howard DGA 15, that he flew on personal trips between islands.
He was born in Toronto. He was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame and was a member of Aloha Shriners, the Kaneohe Yacht Club and Ye Ancient and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen, a national social organization of pilots.
He is survived by Olga, his wife of 63 years; daughters Corinne and Eleanor; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Plans for a celebration of his life are pending.