Charles “OBie” O’Brien
Distinguished Skytyper Alumni
Retired Naval Aviator Charles Joseph O’Brien was one of the original Skytyper pilots. He joined the team in 1982 when Mort Arken was leading the squadron. OBie flew with the team for 20 years and retired in 2002.
“I’d like to say the show was just as good when I was flying with the guys but the truth is that it’s so much better now,” he says.
O’Brien was awarded the Wings of Gold in June of 1950 after completing flight training in the SNJ, F6F-5 and TO-1 (F-80C). He was then ordered to a Fighter Squadron equipped with the Corsair F4U-5 and later the F4U-4. He served on three major carrier deployments including a combat cruise to Korea.
In 2012, at age 85, he flew the very same Corsair that he flew in combat over Korea, making him the oldest pilot to fly the F4U.
His military aviation career included service in the East Coast Light Photo Reconnaissance Squadron where he piloted the F9F-8P and RF-8 Crusader, flying some missions over Cuba. During Vietnam, he served as Air Boss on USS Bon Homme Richard and as Ops.Officer for Commander Fleet Air Norfolk, 7th Fleet Detachment.
OBie retired on his 86th birthday after 7500 hours of accident free flyingand over 725 carrier landings in props and jets on both straight and angle decks.
“I decided it was time to stop. So I did.”
OBie now resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he works with the Military Aviation Museum, still flying warbirds to make sure they’re safe and airworthy.