LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Thomas Fortune Ryan III, a former co-owner of Lockheed Aircraft Co. and founder of Mid-Continent Airlines, died yesterday at Memorial Medical Center, after abdominal surgery. He was 89.
Mr. Ryan had undergone surgery early this month and never recovered, said his daughter, Caroline Crawford.
Mr. Ryan, a retired Army colonel, was decorated during World War II for coordinating commercial-airline operations with military operations at the request of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Born Oct. 22, 1904, in Chihuahua City, Mexico, Mr. Ryan became fascinated with aviation at an early age and got his pilot's license in 1930.
Two years later, he and five others bought Lockheed Aircraft from Detroit Aircraft Corp. for $40,000, Crawford said.
Later that year, he began the operation of Kansas City-based Mid-Continent Airlines with three planes. The airline merged with Braniff in 1955, she said.