The world lost a great philanthropist, sailor, aviation enthusiast, and citizen when Woodson K.
Woods crossed over the bar during the night of 14 February. Woody—or WK, as many knew him—was, above all, a gentleman.
His accomplishments in both the worlds of sail and aviation will stand for all time as a monument to him.
I first met him when he built the reproduction 1812 tops’l schooner Lynx, which was designed by his friend and longtime NMHS supporter, the late Melbourne Smith.
Woods III (1932–2020) I served for a time as an advisor to the ship and then on the board of the Lynx Foundation, during which time WK and I established an enduring friendship.
Lynx was built at Rockport Marine in Maine and launched in 2001 with 19th-century fanfare.
From there she sailed south to the Panama Canal and on to her homeport in Newport Beach,
California, where she served as a school ship, teaching the history of the War of 1812 through sails in the Pacific by a crew dressed in period costumes.
His wife, Alison,
Woods III (1932–2020) was often involved in the activities of the ship, and his son Jeffrey was operations manager for the vessel.
Lynx often sailed in company with Lady Washington in the Pacific Northwest and made at least two crossings to Hawaii, including racing in the TransPac yacht race in 2009.
Lynx shifted coasts to the Atlantic about ten years later, where she still sails today out of Nantucket, though under different ownership.
WK was a first-rate sailor in his own right.
He was one of the rare present-day sailors to double Cape Horn, and he crossed the Pacific twice, once in a Westsail 32 and later in an Alden 57 yawl.
After moving back to Hawaii in 2005, he commissioned another Melbourne Smith-designed vessel to be built at the same yard that built Lynx.
The 32-foot yawl-rigged open boat was designed after an 18th-century pinnace and christened Imi Loa, Hawaiian for “explorer.”
He had it shipped to Hawaii and last year donated it to the Hawai’i Preparatory Academy for students to learn seamanship and small boat handling. His maritime accomplishments aside, Mr.
Woods was a Category 1 sailplane pilot (one of the top ten rated pilots in the United States) and a top-rated sailplane racer, and he held an altitude record of 25,500 feet that stood for more than thirty years.
With his son Chris, he restored vintage planes for museums and bought and restored the first Spitfire fighter in the United States.
He built and oversaw the operation of the Carefree Flying Museum in Arizona and served on the board of the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
In 1964, he was instrumental in founding the Royal Hawaiian Air Service, which some years later was bought out by a major airline.
Once he shifted his operations from the West Coast to Hawaii, he continued, though not always in robust health,
Woodson K. Woods III (1932–2020) to sail and support local organizations through his philanthropy.
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