Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Francis P. Tunstall Jr., Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
July 08, 1947 – December 11, 2000
Francis P. Tunstall Jr., 53, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who had worked for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum since June 1999, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 11 at Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
Col. Tunstall, who lived in Burke, was stricken at work. A museum specialist, he worked on vintage aircraft restoration. He also was a member of the core team working on the museum’s new Dulles Center.
He began his military career in the late 1960’s as an Army enlisted man. He left the Army in 1971 and joined the Air Force in 1973. He was commissioned after graduation from Officer Candidate School.
He flew helicopters in Okinawa and Britain and then C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft around the world while based at Norton Air Force Base in California. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. His last assignment before retiring from active duty in 1991 was as a public affairs staff officer in the office of the secretary of the Air Force.
After his Air Force service, he wrote and produced episodes for the Public Broadcasting Service series “Legends of Air Power.”
Col. Tunstall was born in Vallejo, Calif., and graduated from the University of Florida in 1973. He received a master’s degree in human resources engineering from Pepperdine University in California.
He was a past president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Plastic Modelers Society and a member of the Order of Daedalians and the Air Force Association. His hobbies included woodcrafts, surfing, sailing and playing the guitar.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Ellen Edwards Tunstall of Burke; a son, Shawn, of Richmond; two daughters, Kristi Tunstall of Washington and Katherine Gast of Grand Blanc, Mich.; his father, Francis Sr., of Lakeland, Fla.; two brothers, Albert, of Charlotte, and John, of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.; three sisters, Mary Staton of Charlotte, Judy Madden of Springfield, Mass., and Margaret Alford of Lakeland; a half-brother, Louis Ruppert of Annapolis; a half-sister, Ellen Cotton of Charlotte; and three grandchildren.
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