March 14, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
Bill Yoak of Lewisburg, W.Va., was an artist who made metal works of fantasy, mystery, and beauty—and all of them flew. He provided fantasy aircraft to Hollywood, mysterious aircraft for the Lockheed Skunk Works, and beautiful ones for himself and warbird owners. Yoak died in mid-March at age 67.
He created helicopters for Blue Thunder while working at R.W. Martin, and for Rambo III. While at the Skunk Works he worked on the Cheyenne helicopter, the U-2 spy plane, and the nose and cockpit of the SR-71. The nose was redesigned depending on the mission. He was a Corsair stunt pilot in the television series Baa Baa Black Sheep.
He left Hollywood to raise his son, Scott, in a “more wholesome environment,” as he told Warbirds magazine. Until his death he had worked with Scott at Aerospace Specialties. Scott took over the business two years ago after learning all his father’s tricks for bending metal to his will. His pride and joy was the North American P-51 Mustang called Quick Silver. The Mustang made 12 airshow appearances in 2012. Aircraft restorers still study his post-World War II Mustang for tips on how to do it right.
“Dad loved what he was doing,” said Scott Yoak. “He loved the industry and the people in it. He would dedicate all his energy and time to what you were saying.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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