Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Hilary Leiss

In Memoriam

August 18, 1937 - January 10, 2018

Former SWA and FTL Capt. Hilary H. Leiss died on Jan. 10, 2018, after complications suffered from a stroke and related problems. He was 80 years old. He will be buried with full military honors. The funeral will be held on Friday, January 26, at 11:00 a.m., at the 
Heritage Funeral Home
508 N. Government Way
Spokane, WA 99224
Anyone wishing to attend the services is welcome.  All attendees are invited to a sit-down dinner at Anthony's Restaurant at Spokane Falls, 519 North Lincoln St. Spokane, WA 99201, Tel: (509)328-9009, following the gravesite service.  Cards and letters, etc. can be sent to the home address of 812 E. Shelter Ln., Deer Park, WA 99006.  All flowers may be sent directly to the funeral home.


Below is a copy of his obit from the Heritage Funeral Home website:

Captain Hilary Harry Leiss passed away at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane on January 10, 2018 after a struggle to recover from illnesses. He was born in New York City on August 18, 1937, son of Harry Archer Leiss and Olga Catherine Leiss, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 36 years, Barbara Jean (Rusinko) Leiss; and three proud and loving children, Wayne Leiss of Danbury, CT, Kurt (Regina) Leiss of San Clemente, CA and Gina (Loren) Thurn of Exeter, RI; seven grandchildren; and sister, Joan Booth of Danbury, CT.

Captain Leiss was a pioneer in the aviation industry, clocking over 30,000 hours of flying over a 30+ year career. He served in the US Air Force where he was stationed at SAC (Strategic Air Command) in Mountainhome, ID, with the B-47 bombers that carried the A-Bomb. Following his Air Force service, he started his career with private charter flights for high profile notables on the East Coast, such as members of Pres. Roosevelt’s family, Robert Kennedy, Arnold Palmer and others. He then went on to fly larger aircraft with Seaboard World Airlines out of JFK. They were 100% committed to America’s war efforts which plunged him into the Vietnam War for six years until the fall of Saigon and other points where he safely transported our G.I.’s home under gunfire, taking bullet holes in the unarmed plane. Flying Tigers then bought Seaboard and he continued the war effort, serving in the Beirut-Lebanon War, as well as his sacrifice and service in Desert Storm. He was working for our military and US Government, flying many covert missions and was considered the best of the best, an expert pilot on many makes and models of commercial aircraft, with the Boeing 747 being his favorite. Federal Express later purchased Flying Tigers, where he continued to fly around the world and retired on the MD-11, an all computerized aircraft.

Captain Leiss was an American Legion Chaplain in Palmer, AK (vets called him “Padre”), as well as the State of Alaska Chaplain for the Four Chaplain’s Chapel of Philadelphia. He served as Chairman of the Transportation Advisory Board for the entire Matanuska-Susitna Borough, AK. He was a member of the IOC (International Order of Characters), a prestigious world aviation group; the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Deer Park, WA and has been honored at the Smithsonian in DC and NASA for the strides made in aviation and sacrifices done for our military.

Hilary was loved by everyone who knew him. We are all blessed to have known this beautiful person and very brave pilot who saved so many – a true unsung hero! A funeral service will be held on Friday, January 26th at 11am at Heritage Funeral Home followed by a graveside service, where full military honors will be rendered. All attendees are invited to a special dinner preparation at Anthony’s Restaurant, 510 N. Lincoln St., Spokane, WA immediately following the graveside service.

Anyone wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials about Hilary is encouraged to contact us at

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