Karl McDonnough, 54, Class of 1977 and a former member of the KC track team, passed away on July 9, 2015 after a brave battle with pancreatic cancer.
The third child of Karl and Hyacinth McDonnough, he was born in Kingston on January 18, 1961. He spent his early years in Vineyard Town and attended Vaz Preparatory School from 1964-1972. He then followed in his father’s footsteps and attended KC from 1972 to 1977 where he excelled in track and field and represented KC at Champs in the 100 and 200 meters, and was also a standout in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
“Karl was easy-going, kind, humble, and was admired and held in high esteem. He is an example of KC’s great success stories and was a fine KC gentleman,” says track team team-mate and KC legend, Wainsworth Small. “He was an integral part of our relay team along with the late Desmond “Zele” Morris and Sonny Gray, and was a mentor to younger athletes such as Fabian Prince,” says Small.
Recalls childhood friend and fellow KCOB, Andrew Carr, who was present at the funeral, “Karl was not a naturally gifted athlete, but he was really disciplined and trained hard. He applied these same qualities to his flying.”
“I remember him competing in a relay at a Jamaica Invitational Track Meet in 1977 in which he was part of a Jamaica schoolboy team that included Small and Peralto from Georges. They won the relay and afterwards Karl gleefully said to me: ‘represent Jamaica and KC all in one,’” says Carr.
After leaving KC, Karl spent a year at Exed Community College, and shortly thereafter he ventured into the film industry working with API (now JIS), and then moving on to John Swaby Productions where he was involved in a few movies shot on location in Jamaica.
In 1982, however, he discovered this true passion: flying. He began training to qualify as a pilot at Wings Jamaica Limited. “Our paths crossed again at Wings Jamaica, while I was working there as an air traffic controller, where I watched Karl develop as a pilot,” says Small.
Karl got married in 1984, started his family and moved on to complete his aviation training at American Flyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For a short period, he worked as a skydive pilot in Jamaica before migrating and moving on to National Jets, Fort Lauderdale in 1986 as a first officer on the DC-4, DC-7 and Convair 550. In 1989, he joined Aero Coach, a scheduled airline service based in Miami, as a captain on the Cessna 402.
While working towards achieving his goal of becoming an airline pilot with a major airline, he joined American Eagle in 1990, as a first officer. He subsequently became a captain there in 1993.
A few years later, he joined America West in Phoenix, Arizona as a first officer on the B737, and subsequently obtained his command on the Boeing in 2003. After a merger with US Airways, he transitioned to the Airbus A320 until he joined Etihad Airways in 2011 as a captain on the A320 Fleet. At the time of discovering his illness, Karl was an A320/A330 captain with Etihad and had amassed over 22,000 hours of flying time.
“Karl asked me to take him to the [KC] campus in April and his eyes lit up as we toured the campus and as he showed me where he used to train for Champs, etc. It was an experience. Thank you KC,” recalls, Kerry McDonnough, his sister.
He was laid to rest at the Providence Methodist Church in Kingston on July 21, 2015, exactly a year after his late father, Karl McDonnough, Sr., who was a member of the KC Board, passed away. In typical fashion, Karl received a fitting farewell from the KC fraternity for which the family is grateful.
“The family respects and admires the power of Fortis,” says Kerry.
Karl is survived by his wife, Tamyiko, his three children, Nicholas, Danielle and Jonas, his sisters Karlene, Karen, Katherine and Kerry, nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.