Today is the birthday of Prosper Cocquyt (June 9, 1900-October 22, 1954). He was born in Astène, Belgium, near Ghent, and is primarily famous for being an aviator.
Prosper Cocquyt was called “the uncrowned king of the airline pilots.” Shortly after learning to fly, in his early twenties, joined Sabena World Airlines in its inception, and opened several routes for them, including to the Belgian Congo. He flew for them for over 25 years, and was even “the favorite pilot of the Belgian royal family and the personal pilot of the kings, Albert I and Leopold III.” Flying Zone has a lengthy biography of Cocquyt, and so does another website.
He was married to Elza Timmermans, and they had two children, a boy and a girl. It’s possible she was part of the Timmermans brewing family, but I’m not sure. But there’s another reason he’s included here.
When World War I broke out, Cocquyt was only fourteen, and he had to abandon going to school and find work. He was hired by a brewery run by a friend of his father as a mechanic. He distinguished himself by his knowledge of mechanics, and so impressed his boss, at sixteen, he was named chief mechanic, and even received a degree in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering at 21, before abandoning working in brewing to begin his career as a pilot. As far as I could tell, he never looked back.