Gene Wilkie

Gene Wilkie died in a plane crash near Payette, ID on June 17. Gene was a fixture at Honolulu Airport for being the “go to guy” on anything aviation and maintenance. Most remember all his aviation and motorcycle projects in his two T Hangars facing the runways. His wife Emi also was a pilot and changed vocation later to a nurse. She lives in Payette and is currently monitoring Gene’s email for condolences

A lot of people in Hawaii aviation knew Gene Wilkie.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Gene at Island Seaplane Services base, 85 Lagoon Drive–backside of HNL, on August 5 @ 1730 (5:30PM).  His wife Emi will be there.  Please pass the word.

To carry out Gene’s intention (see picture), Celebration of Life in HAWAII will be a ”Potluck & BYOB are welcomed” event.

Posted in GACH.


  1. Gene Wilkie was a great friend with whom many of us flew with during the Vietnam War, A Co, 229th Assault Helicopter BN, 1st Air Cav, circa 1966-67. We hooked up as a unit last year during the Osh Kosh Air Show after not seeing each other for about 49 years. He was the same wonderful, funny, brilliant Gene Wilkie, cynical, unassuming and interested in others, never talking about himself unless you asked, He has been helping with our 50th Anniversary to be held in Ft. Worth this October, part of which will be hosted by Bell Helicopter. Gene seemed to have flown about everything they built plus numerous vintage airplanes and umpteen motorcycles, some of which he built, We have lost a great friend and compatriot. Our unit sends their condolences to Emi, his wife, who he loved dearly.

  2. I flew door gunner for Gene several times while in Vietnam. He was one of the best, low keyed pilots I ever flew with. Nothing seemed to shake him up, that he couldn’t overcome. I always felt safe and secure when I gunned for Gene. I think he felt safe and secure when I gunned for him. Gene and I had plans to share a room at our “A” Company, 229th AHB reunion in October. Unfortunately I received an email from Emi about his death. I am still trying to process it, especially when I look back on our emails about the reunion. Gene will never be forgotten and will always be remembered about his care for other’s interests first and his wonderful sense of humor. I will miss his emails and our phone conversations. Emi has been a trooper and stayed in touch with me when I have had a question, or needed to leave her a message.
    May God continue to Bless both Emi and Gene, and all of their family and multiple friends. I’ll miss you buddy.

  3. We are needing a portable sound system with Mike so Emi can talk at the Celebration If anyone has one please advise.

  4. Got to know Gene as he would work on my airplane. Always took time with you to answer all your questions about airplans. Was very sad to find out about his passing . We really miss this guy! Ron Trumble. Hilo, hawaii

  5. Goldwings wants to purchase Big Kahuna Pizzas, Gene loved it when we ordered for holidays and he “happened” to stop by!!! Let us know how many are coming, your big smile and familiar voice will always be in my heart Gene. You were adored when you were here, missed when you left the islands and now, forever in my happiest of memories on this ramp. You watched me grow from a kid, made more than a few comments about “boyfriends, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and I could always count on you to feel loved and cared for. I will miss you and your blue jumper, bmw bike and your left arm lean on our hardware counter. Forever in our hearts, Always watching over us!

  6. Gene bailed me out one day, years ago, when the left brake on the Bird Dog (O-1 or L-19) I was flying lost its left brake as I just started on a long cross-wind and down-wind taxi in a bird with no tailwheel steering.
    Seeing me hop out of the tail-dragger and try to reverse course back to the hangar by pushing and steering from the tail, Gene galloped across the windy infield, grabbed the other side of the tail, and together we pushed the bird back to the hangars. Gene asked if I was involved in the fund-raiser for kids, and when I said yes, he said , “Let’s see how fast we can fix your left brake and get you back in the air.”
    Gene repaired my brake, I got airborne, caught up with the other aircraft on Maui, and when I returned to HNL, I saw Gene and asked for a bill for the brake repair. He said, Forget it. No charge.” That was Gene.

  7. Bring folding chairs to the Celebration of Life if you got. Overflow parking is that the end of Lagoon Drive

  8. Emi (Gene’s wife) wrote: I probably need a little assistance setting up for the celebration on the 5th. Could you please post an ad on GACH website, if there’s anybody who can help from like 4- 4:30pm?

    Thank you,

  9. I was deeply saddened to hear about Gene — he was a good friend and all-around aviation personality. I missed the celebration of life for him, since I was still in Australia then, but I want to add my voice to the other remembrances. His hangar was the social center and smut capital of HNL. No airport rumor, however unsubstantiated, went unnoticed at Hangar 115 — indeed, those unsubstantiated rumors were the best! in every sense, he was the “Go-to Guy” at HNL Of course, he was a fine pilot and mechanic, too….

    Dick Gould

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