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Service Set for Aviation Pioneer William J. Cheney

A memorial service will be held Tuesday for pioneer Orange County aviator William J. Cheney.

Cheney, 76, died in Windermere, Fla., in late January following a lengthy illness.

A graduate of Tustin High School, Cheney was a fixture of Orange County’s early days of aviation. He was taught to fly in 1928 by Eddie Martin, owner of Eddie Martin’s Airport, just south of Santa Ana.

Later, while working as a crop duster, Cheney organized the first flying club in Orange County.

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As noted in the book “From Jennies to Jets: The Aviation History of Orange County,” Cheney joined American Airlines in 1935. He flew for the airline out of Glendale, serving as co-pilot for another Orange County pioneer flier, Johnny Martin. Three years later, Cheney became a captain for American Airlines, flying out of New York and Boston.

Cheney was a pilot during World War II. He retired from American Airlines in 1959, and moved to Florida several years ago.

He is survived by his wife Maire; a son, Edward W. Cheney, and a sister, Edra Brophy. The memorial service will be held at Melrose Abbey Cemetery & Mortuary, 2303 S. Manchester Ave., Anaheim.


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