Tom started a 37 year career with the Ontario Provincial Air Service in 1946. In 1965 he was appointed the Director of the Air Service Branch. When he retired in 1977 he had amassed over 13,000 hours of flying. His efforts helped make Ontario a leader in forest management and fire control. Through many years Tom, assisted by others, developed many innovations which contributed to the growth, and improvement of aviation in Canada
It was during his time with the OPAS that Tom became part of the development of the water bombing technology for forest fire control. During the summer of 1957 Tom Cooke made history by applying, for the first time ever, an aerial waterbombing pickup and delivery system. Without assistance, and while flying a DH Otter aircraft, he controlled a mile-wide fire front in the Sudbury District. A film of the aircraft leaving the hangar with the new roll over tanks installed can be seen at the CBHC museum. The technology continued to develop and grow into the worldwide acceptance it enjoys today
He continued to involve himself with the new and innovative ideas. He was the first to fly a Beaver with wheel-ski combination undercarriage. With some help from Stan Johnson, Tom designed the universal racks for carrying external loads, such as canoes, lumber etc., which are still in use on aircraft today.
In 1988 he was one of the founding members of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and served as its' second president.
Tom was the recipient of the Queens Jubilee Medal, the "Rusty" Blakey award and in June, 2004 was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame..
Sadly Tom passed away on August 17, 2004.