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Tribute in Sky at Rites for Bruce Wayne

June 12, 1986|From Associated Press

More than 25 aircraft rose majestically from behind the Hollywood Hills and flew in missing-man formations over burial services Wednesday for airborne traffic reporter Bruce Wayne.

Wayne, 52, died June 4 in the fiery crash of his single-engine Cessna at Fullerton Municipal Airport as he was about to begin his traffic-reporting duties for the day as radio station KFI-AM's "Eye in the Sky."

The squadrons of helicopters, single-engine planes and Air Force World War II-vintage aircraft flying low over Forest Lawn Memorial Park were piloted by colleagues from Southern California radio stations as well as local police and fire officials and other area law-enforcement agents.

The 15-minute display in the midday sun included a skywriting plane that traced a cross and Wayne's initials high above his flag-draped coffin.

The ceremony concluded with the mournful strains of a trumpeter playing "Taps."

Earlier, more than 300 mourners filled the Old North Church at the cemetery and about 200 more spilled out onto the front courtyard. Many wept as they listened to Wayne's widow, friends and colleagues eulogize the 25-year traffic reporter.

Lois Wayne, who reported the details of her husband's death moments after his plane crashed, praised him as "the guardian angel of our freeways."

"I know that you all have lost a friend," she said. "I hope each of you will take some of his spirit with you."

Radio personality Al Lohman, who once worked with Wayne at KFI, praised him as a "consummate performer . . . a real nice guy and a friend."

"Bruce was a fellow who stopped to smell the flowers," said businessman Wayne King, "but he went one step further: He would pick the flowers, smell them, and pass them along for others to enjoy."

Former KFI personality Jack Armstrong said: "I never met a better pro or a man with a bigger heart."

Other friends and associates, including radio personality Mike Sakellarides from KFI's sister station, KOST-FM, and attorney Gloria Allred, praised Wayne for his professionalism and dedication as a reporter, pilot, civic speaker and charity fund-raiser.

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