Homer F. Cole, 79, a pioneer in aviation and a retired Federal Aviation Administration aide, died Sunday at Fairfax Hospital after a long illness.
At his retirement from FAA in 1966, he was one of the top staff members in the air traffic control division.
During his 30 years with FAA and its predecessors, including the Civil Aeronautics Administration, Mr. Cole contributed to the development of the present air traffic control system.
Born in Niagara Falls, Ont., he joined the Princess Pat's Regiment of the Canadian Army in the early part of World War I, and served as a motorcycle dispatch rider and ambulance driver in France and Belgium. He fought at Vimy Ridge and in other campaigns.
Later in the war, Mr. Cole became a pilot in the British Royal Flying Corps.
After the war, he came to this country, where he later became a naturalized citizen, and barnstormed with air circuses.He pioneered in the air mail service and was among the first pilots hired by Northwest Airlines.
Mr. Cole was one of the three founders in 1931 of the Air Line Pilots Association and served as its first air traffic controllers in the old Bureau of Air Commerce of the Commerce Department.
He was a 32d degree Mason.
He is survived by his wife, Lenore E. Larson Cole, of the home in Falls Church; a son, Roger C., and a daughter, Patricia C. Tyson, both of Great Falls, Va.; another son, Alan H., of Vista, Calif.; another daughter, Nancy Carroll, of Falls Church; a brother, Cecil W., of Seattle, and 11 grandchildren.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Leukemia Fonudation.