Dr. Thomas R. Righetti | AspenTimes.com

Dr. Thomas R. Righetti

Part-time Aspen resident Dr. Tom Righetti died Sept. 18 when the Russian MiG-15 jet fighter he was piloting crashed near Wilmington, N.C., in severe weather. He was 61 years old.

He was en route to perform in an air show at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va. According to his wife of 20 years, Betty Amos, Righetti died doing what he loved best ? flying jet fighters.

Righetti was born Nov. 9, 1940.

Never wanting to be far from the skies, he joined a group of fellow Aspen aviators with ownership in a single-engine Decathlon airplane. He often could be seen in the skies over the Roaring Fork Valley performing aerobatic poetry. For more than 20 years, Tom and Betty called Aspen their second home.

With a primary residence in Miami, Fla., Righetti was Chief of Radiology at Jackson South Hospital and president/co-founder of the aviation museum Wings Over Miami. His expertise was in radiology, but he also loved fine wines, and was an expert skier, tennis player and scuba diver.

It was Righetti’s love of flying, though, that captured his spirit and drove his desire for young people to gain an appreciation for the legacy of our heroic fighter pilots who flew in the service of our country. A “missing man” fly-over in war birds from the Wings Over Miami museum paid tribute during Righetti’s funeral.

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In addition to his wife, Betty Amos, Righetti is survived by his mother, Ruth Righetti; sister, Virginia Villani (Michael) all of Winter Park; son, Thomas S. Righetti; daughter, Brandy Righetti; stepson, Jeffrey Amos; grandson, Tyler Calabria; and granddaughter, Kendall Amos.

Donations may be made to the Thomas Righetti, M.D. Charitable Fund, c/o Dade Community Foundation, 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33131.