South Dakota Pilots Association

Master Mechanics, Master Pilots, & Master Instructors

Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award


The award is named for Mr. Charles E. Taylor, the mechanic who built the engines and maintained the Wright Brothers airplanes. To be eligible for the award, a mechanic must have at least a total of 50 years engaged in aviation maintenance and be a certificated mechanic or repairman as long as they have kept their credentials, with a minimum of 30 years as a FAA-certificated mechanic or repairman; the remaining 20 years may be accepted if the individual served as a mechanic in the military or worked in the aviation maintenance or manufacturing industry.

The site of the Charles E. Taylor Memorial will be located at the Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in front of the Paul Laurence Library. The memorial will feature a life-size sculpture of Taylor at his workbench and a bronze bust of Taylor with the Mechanics' Creed. The names of the winners of the FAA Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award will also be included in the memorial. In addition, each Master Mechanic award winner's name is placed in a leather "Role of Honor" book located at the entrance to the FAA Maintenance Division on the eighth floor of the FAA Headquarters building, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC.

South Dakota Master Mechanics:

Frank L. Broesamle - Mobridge

(November 1996)

Frank L. Broesamle started his aviation career in 1941 by completing an aircraft sheet metal course at Lincoln Aeronautical Institute in Lincoln, NE. After graduation, he was offered a position with Martin Aircraft Company building B-26 bombers in Baltimore, MD, but decided to return to South Dakota to enlist in the Army Air Corps. His military service included 2 years in the Far East before returning to the States in 1945. Frank received his A&E certificate from Cal Aero in California, and then worked for Grand Central Aviation converting Boeing C-46 transports for China before moving on to Pacific Airmotive. In 1949, he came home to South Dakota and operated an aircraft repair shop in Bison. In 1965, he received his IA certificate from 'good ole Charley Smith.' For the next 3 years he was Airport Manager at Hettinger, ND, where he operated a maintenance and repair shop. For the next 14 years, he served as the Airport Manager at Mobridge, SD, also operating a maintenance and repair shop, which he continues to operate in 2004.

Ivan F. Ellis - Sturgis

(November 1996)

Ivan F. Ellis began his study of aircraft mechanics in 1931 at Van Hoffman Air College in St. Louis. He returned to home to Rapid City during the Great Depression and volunteered his services at the old Halley Airport. He became a licensed mechanic in 1936, and moved in 1941 to Cheyenne, WY, to work for Plains Airways. Later he moved to Chadron, NE, to work on the aircraft fleet at Snook's Civilian Flight Training School. In 1943 he moved to Grand Junction, CO, to work on a fleet of planes for the Navy Pilot Training Program. After WWII he moved to Rapid City to be a partner in Rushmore Flying Service, and in 1947 earned his inspection authorization. In 1949 he became a partner in Black Hills Aviation in Spearfish. He helped pioneer airborne uranium prospecting in 1957, and later worked at Bus Field Aviation in Belle Fourche. Ivan was named the SD Mechanic of the Year in 1971. In 1972 he moved to Sturgis and took over maintenance at Hlavka Flying Service. During retirement he has continued to rebuild classic aircraft. Ivan was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997.

Luverne (Vern) A. Kraemer - Nemo

(November 1996)

Luverne (Vern) A. Kraemer has been in aviation for the past 56 years as a pilot and mechanic. He began his aviation maintenance career while earning his pilot license at the Spearfish Airport in 1940. He served his country in WWII as a pilot and mechanic with the Civil Air Patrol's Coastal Patrol, then worked as a mechanic for Clyde Ice in the early 1940s. Vern worked for Boeing in Wichita, KS, and worked in Washington state and Alaska, before coming back to South Dakota in 1951. He managed the aircraft maintenance facility at the old Halley Airport in Rapid City, and then worked for Snedigar Flying Service in Rapid City from 1963 to 1975. Vern ran his own FBO, B & K Aviation, at Rapid City Airport from 1975 until he retired in 1986, and continues to build and maintain aircraft at his private airport on his ranch in the Black Hills. He is a founding member of the Experimental Aircraft Association with membership number 72, and was the second person to donate a homebuilt experimental category aircraft to the EAA for their fledgling museum in 1958. He has worked unceasingly in the furtherance of aviation as a mechanic and inspector for the past 56 years, and continues to encourage people interested in building their own experimental category aircraft, always stressing high standards of aircraft construction. Vern was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.

Edward F. Dahlhoff - Sioux Falls

(March 2001)

Edward F. Dahlhoff began aircraft maintenance at Sevdy-Sorenson Aviation in Worthington, MN, in late 1949. He served for 4 years in the U.S. Air Force as a mechanic, boom operator, and flight engineer. Edward worked at Pipestone Aviation in Pipestone, MN, between 1955 and 1963 as a mechanic, and then worked at Business Aviation in Sioux Falls from 1963 to 1968. In the following years he worked as an A&P/IA, aircraft mechanic instructor, flight instructor, and charter pilot at Shupe Executive Air Travel, Sioux Falls School District, and Professional Flight all in Sioux Falls. From 1977 to 1984 Edward was a mechanic and flight instructor at Great Planes Airport in Tea. He started his own business, Aircrafters, in 1985 and continued it until 1993. From 1993 to present he has been an A&P/IA at Business Aviation.

Clifford P. Adkins - Parkston

(September 2001)

Clifford P. Adkins built a flying flea as a young boy in ~1937, and started pilot training and aircraft maintenance at Mitchell, SD, in 1938. During WWII he taught pilot training in the War Training Service at LeMars and Sheldon, IA, training Army glider pilots and Army and Navy fighter pilots. Cliff later serviced as a flight engineer and copilot of B-26s at Pensacola, FL. Cliff began a flight training and maintenance service at O'Neill, NE, in 1948, and received national recognition on the Ted Malone radio show for his heroism in conducting rescue flights during the blizzard of 1948-49. In 1949 he established an airport with flight training, maintenance and repair, aerial application, and charter services at Parkston, SD, which later became the Parkston Municipal Airport. He received his A&P license in 1961, and over the years has built several home-built aircraft and specialized in aircraft maintenance, repair, design, building, and restoration. Cliff was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame in August 2000.

Arnold A. Kolb - Spearfish

(August 2002)

Arnold A. Kolb learned to fly in 1945 from his brother Raymond and in late 1947-early 1948 entered in to partnership with his brother in the Lemmon Aircraft Company at Lemmon. Arnold learned aircraft maintenance and later sold his interest in Lemmon Aircraft Company in 1956. In 1957 he went to work at How-Kola Flying Service in Spearfish. He bought the business in 1958, and renamed it Black Hills Aviation. He expanded services to include fire-fighting using B-17s, which he maintained. When the Interstate Highway 90 went through the Black Hills Airport property and the air tankers could not operate there, he moved his business to Alamogordo, NM, in 1972. Arnold engineered and developed an improved drop system for air tankers and shifted from B-17s to Lockheed P2V Neptunes. His last B-17 is at the Smithsonian Museum. He sold his air tanker business in 1993. Arnold was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame in 1999.

Raymond R. Kolb - Lemmon

(August 2002)

Raymond R. Kolb learned to fly in 1939-40 in the Civilian Pilot Training program in Spearfish and continued training at Ft. Collins, CO. He taught flying in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Ray began learning aircraft maintenance in 1940 as an apprentice mechanic at Spearfish. After WWII he moved to Lemmon to work at Lemmon Aircraft Company. In late 1947-early 1948 he purchased Lemmon Aircraft Company in partnership with his brother Arnold who sold his interest in the business in 1956. Raymond continued to run Lemmon Aircraft Company until he sold it in 1975. Ray ran a full-service maintenance shop, and earned his A&P license in 1968 and inspection authorization in 1971. He continued to work at Lemmon Aircraft Company until 1977. From 1977 to 1989 he worked with his brother Arnold at Black Hills Aviation on fire-fighting aircraft, which he also co-piloted. After retiring in 1989 he continued to work on aircraft at Lemmon. Between 1947 and 1984 Ray was a CAA/FAA pilot examiner, and logged in excess of 22,975 hours of flight time. Lemmon Airport was renamed Ray Kolb Airport in his honor in 1997. Raymond was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997.

William J. Ferwerda - Springfield

(July 2003)

William J. Ferwerda joined the Army Air Corps on November 13, 1942, as an aviation cadet and began pilot training in Beloit, WI, and later Santa Ana Army Airfield, CA. He graduated from aircraft mechanic training at Lincoln Army Airfield, NE, in October 1943. Bill was a crew chief on P-38s at Hammer Field, Fresno, CA, and the P-38 Fighter Squadron at Santa Maria, CA, during WWII. After the war he continued in aircraft maintenance at Yankton Airport and worked for Duane Closs. He joined the SD National Guard as an aircraft mechanic in 1957 at Wagner and served in full-time positions in Springfield and Rapid City working on fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and retired in 1983. Bill and Roy Crisman gave countless airplane rides to people through the 1950s to 2000 at Wagner Airport for annual Labor Day celebrations. He continued to do private aircraft maintenance and inspections while in the National Air Guard and afterward until his retirement from aircraft maintenance in 2004. The YRAA presented a 'Mrs. Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Spouse Award' to Alda Ferwerda in recognition of her support of her husband's aviation maintenance career.

Thomas R Kitterman

Thomas R. Kitterman - Sioux Falls

(February 2019)

Thomas Kitterman served in the U.S. Air Force as a helicopter mechanic from 1963 to 1989. After basic training in 1963 Tom compared helicopter maintenance training at Sheppard AFB, TX. Between 1963 and 1983 he was stationed at Stead AFB, NV, Germany, Sheppard AFB, TX, Vietnam, Hurlburt AFB, FL, Korea, MAC IG Team, Fairchild AFB, WA, and Scott AFB, IL. Tom worked on a variety of helicopters including three models of Huey, plus the H-19 and H-43. He was the Director of Maintenance at F.E. Warren AFB, Cheyenne, WY, from 1983 to 1985; Director of Maintenance and Chief Enlisted Manager at Patrick AFB, FL, from 1986 to 1989; Quality Assurance Maintenance Inspector at Rocky Mountain Helicopter, Provo, UT, from 1989 to 1994; Lead Technician at Omni Flight Helicopter, Addison, TX, from 1994-2004; and Director of Maintenance at Sanford Medical, Sioux Falls, SD, from 2004 to 2013. Tom was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). A Charles Taylor Master Mechanic plaque was presented to Tom on March 14 in Brookings. The Blue Ribbon package of Tom's maintenance history, lapel pins, and paper certificate signed by the FAA Administrator was presented to Tom on May 21 in Sioux Falls. Letters of recommendation were provided by Paul J. Gunderson (Eden Prairie, MN), Mick Kennedy (Harrisburg, SD), and Joseph F. Grosky (Canton, SD).

Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award


The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recognizes pilots who have contributed to building and maintaining the safest aviation system in the world, through practicing and promoting safe flight for 50 consecutive years or more. The award is named for Wilbur and Orville Wright, two early pioneers of flight. To be eligible for the award, a pilot must have 50 years of U.S. piloting experience with the effective start date for the award being the date of the applicant's first solo flight or military equivalent. A current flight review or medical certificate is not required at the time of nomination. The applicant must have held a CAA/FAA pilot certificate with 50 consecutive years or more civil experience or up to 20 years military experience in combination with civil experience, have three letters of recommendation, been a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident, during the 50 years of U.S. piloting experience, and no revocation. A 'Roll of Honor' book with recipient's name, city, and state will be kept in a prominent place in the FAA Washington, DC, headquarters building.

For more details about the award, see FAA/FS-I-8700-2 (revision 2), dated July 18, 2014.

South Dakota Master Pilots:

Cecil Ice - Pierre

(March 2002)

Cecil Ice received the 'Golden Eagle Award,' which has now been incorporated into the Wright Brothers' Master Pilot Award. Cecil had flown over 44,000 hours in Part 137 aerial applications, Part 135 charter flights, and Part 91 operations over a 50-plus year period. Ice Flying Service was established at the Pierre Airport in 1947 and continues to operate today. He was a Piper aircraft dealer for over 45 years. One nominator wrote, 'I can think of few people still alive today who have made aviation a business, a lifestyle, and a love affair to the degree that Cecil Ice has.' Another nominator wrote, 'The entire Ice family is legendary in South Dakota, but the man who made Ice synonymous with aviation in central South Dakota is Cecil.' Cecil is the son of legendary aviator Claude Ice, who was still flying at age 100.

Robert (Bob) J. Balentine - Yankton

(August 2005)

Bob joined the US Navy in May 1941 and trained as an aircraft mechanic and accumulated thousands of hours as a crewmember in B-24s, B-17s, and PBMs during and after WWII. He reenlisted in the US Air Force in 1950, and while at Eglin AFB, bought a wrecked J-3 Cub for $10. After restoring the Cub in a chicken coop that he and his wife Ione cleaned out, he flew it about 30 hours before beginning formal flight training. His official flight training began at Deer Park Field, Hempstead, Long Island, NY in 1955. Bob has owned several planes over the years, and flown extensively in New England, southeastern US, Utah, and Midwest areas. Memorable trips included flying to Alaska in his C-170B in 1988 to Fairbanks via the Al-Can Highway accumulating 58.8 hours. Bob also has flown to Oshkosh several times, and in the 2000 flew the Lewis & Clark Trail to Mobridge, Williston, Fort Benson, MT, Three Forks, MT, Cody, WY, and back home. Bob has accumulated almost 1,200 hours of flight time over a 50-year period. Dave Tunge, Jacob Hoffner, and Steve Hamilton submitted letters of recommendation supporting Bob's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Ione Balentine in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Roy C. Crisman, Jr. - Wagner

(August 2005)

Roy began flying in a J-3 Cub at the Wagner Airport in 1946 under the GI Bill. He soloed in June 1947 and earned his license in September 1947, going on to earn a commercial rating in 1953, a multi-engine rating in 1961, and an instrument rating in 1974. Roy started crop spraying in a Piper PA18 at Wagner in 1956. Roy joined the International Flying Farmers (IFF) in 1947 and served in many officer positions over the years and is currently the Region 5 Director. He owned several planes over the years, taught a lot of students to fly, sold lots and lots of aircraft as an aircraft dealer, and flew SD Game Fish & Parks personnel on creel counts and wildlife counts over the years. Roy operated the Wagner Airport from 1958 to 1998 – 40 years. Beginning in the late 1940s, he gave airplane rides at Wagner over the Labor Day weekend for 1-2 cents a pound or 50-cents a foot in height – to hundreds of people including several generations of the same families. Roy has accumulated almost 25,000 hours of flight time over a 58-year period. Mark Hunhoff, Ken Lhotak, and John Otte submitted letters of recommendation supporting Roy's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Geraldine Crisman in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

William (Bill) J. Ferwerda - Springfield

(August 2005)

Bill got his first ride in a Curtis Robin from a barnstormer in North Dakota in 1940 or 1941 on a day off from working in a carnival at the ND State Fair grounds – costing $2.00 (a whole day's wages). He started flight training as an aviation cadet in the US Army Air Corps in November 1942, later switching to aircraft maintenance. In 1952 bought a J-3 Cub for $275 and restored it -- sometimes using his wife Alda's kitchen table as a workbench. Bill completed pilot training in 1954, and later earned a commercial rating in 1955, instrument rating in 1964, and flight instructor rating in 1970. Between the mid1950s and 2001 Bill gave airplane rides to people at Wagner with Roy Crisman during the Labor Day weekend. He has flown 19 different fixed wing planes including a Maule on skis in Alaska, and two rotary wing aircraft over the years, and owned many planes over the years. Bill received the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award from the FAA in 2003. Bill has accumulated over 4,500 hours of flight time, plus 70 hours of dual instruction in two rotary wing aircraft over a 51-year period. Roy Crisman, John Otte, and Steve Hamilton submitted letters of recommendation supporting Bill's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Alda Ferwerda in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Grove A. Rathbun - Rapid City

(September 2005)

Grove started taking flying lessons at Newell, SD, in a Piper J-3 Cub on August 6, 1947 from Allen C. McDonald, and soled in September, later passing his flight exam in July 1951 at Hibbing, MN. He undertook military flight training in a Piper PA-18 June 1954 at Stallings Air Base in Kinston, NC. Grove trained in lot of military aircraft while in the Air Force including the North American T-6G, T-28A and T-33A at Williams AFB during 1954-55, and graduated from basic flight training in 1955. He learned combat crew training in a T-33A at Laughlin AFB, TX, and then advanced combat crew training in a F-86E/F at Nellis AFB, NV, before transferring to the Minnesota Air National Guard in Duluth, MN. Flight training continued in the F-94A/B and F-89J, and was awarded the Certificate of Expert Fighter Interceptor Pilot in 1962. Grove transferred to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and transitioned to the F-102A and later the A-7D, retiring from the Guard in 1981. His military flight experience included several air bases in the States, and several locations overseas. After retirement, Grove flew Cessna 172s, and in 1994 purchased a Cessna 182, which he continues to fly today. Grove has accumulated over 5100 hours of flight time over a 58–year period. Barry Bibler, Ray Jilek, and Steve Hamilton submitted letters of recommendation supporting Grove's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Jan Rathbun in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

James R. Bartels - Pierre

(September 2006)

James took flying lessons from Cecil Ice at Ice Flying Service in Pierre, SD, and soloed in a Piper PA-11 on November 15, 1952 at age 17. He attended South Dakota State University in Brookings in 1954 and took Air-40 to earn his private pilot license, but quit school and got married in 1955. James rented planes occasionally and earned his private pilot license in 1963 in a 1947 Piper PA-11. He flew the plane until 1973 putting 982 hours on it, and then sold the plane and purchased a 1958 PA-18 Super Cub. James used both Cubs in ranching and farming, checking cattle and crops, plus commuting between the Pierre Airport and his hangar at the ranch in Lyman County, and coyote hunting. He sold the Super Cub in 1966 after putting 1,433 hours on it and purchased a 1974 Piper Arrow II. He has put 1,050 hours on the Arrow to date and used it for cross-country trips including San Luis Obispo, CA. To date, James has 4,426 hours of flying time. Linda Ehrenfelt (Pierre), Cecil Ice (Pierre), and Forrest Wixon (Pierre) submitted letters of recommendation supporting James' application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Cathie Bartels in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Charles M. Summers - Rapid City

(September 2006)

Charlie took flying lessons at Lincoln, NE, and soloed after 10 hours of dual training on April 14, 1955, in a Piper J-3 Cub. He earned his private pilot license on May 30, 1955, after 37.1 hours in a J-3 Cub and later a commercial rating in 1957 – both at Lincoln, NE. After joining the U.S. Air Force, he completed pilot training in a T-34 and T-33A, earned his USAF wings, and transitioned to F-100C, D, and F models. Charlie received a USAF safety award after landing a damaged F-100 at Wheelus Air Base, Libya in 1962. He flew his first combat mission in Vietnam in a F-100D on 9/15/64, and was shoot down on his second mission over South Vietnam, and then later successfully flew 105 classified missions in a F-100F. In 1969 Charlie was selected to operate the glider program at the U.S. Air Academy, Colorado Springs, CO. He has added many ratings over the years including commercial glider, commercial multi-engine, CFIA, CFIG, CFI instrument, single engine seaplane, CFI multi-engine, multi-engine seaplane, single and multi-engine ATP, Part 135 air taxi and multi-engine, Part 137 agricultural pilot, helicopter rating, CFI helicopter, CE-500 Citation type rating, balloon rating, commercial balloon, commercial gyroplane, CFI gyroplane, and designated pilot examiner (DPE) (airplanes) [11/6/95], and DPE glider [11/2/04]. Charlie began flying thunderstorm/hail research flights in a T-28 aircraft in Aril 1994, and retired from thunderstorm research on 9/15/05 after more than 1,000 thunderstorm penetrations. To date, Charlie has administered 450 flight checks in airplanes and gliders, sport pilot, recreational, private, commercial, instrument, ATP, and CFI. He has 14,500 total aircraft time (706 hours as DPE examiner not logged), 4,200 hours flight instruction given, and flown over 85 different makes and models of aircraft including balloons and powered parachutes, and flown to Mach 2 in F-4C, D and E fighter aircraft. Donald Summers (Albuquerque, NM), William Douglass (Colorado Springs, CO), Thomas Root (Houston, TX), and Major General (retired) A. Bowen Ballard (Montgomery, AL) wrote letters of recommendation supporting Charlie's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Jackie Summers in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Luverne (Vern) A. Kraemer - Nemo

(June 2007)

Vern began his aviation career while earning his pilot license at the Spearfish, SD, Airport in 1940. He served his country in WWII as a pilot and mechanic with the CAP's Coastal Patrol, and worked as a mechanic for Clyde Ice in the early 1940s. He was a founding member of the Experimental Aircraft Association with member number 72. He built the first experimental category licensed aircraft in the state of South Dakota and was the second person to donate a homebuilt experimental category aircraft to the EAA for their fledgling museum in 1958. He organized the Black Hills Chapter 39 of EAA in 1958, and has served as its president numerous times over the last 40+ years. He has served as a mentor to numerous homebuilders in South Dakota while completing four home-builts: an American Flea Triwing, a Rapid Rambler, a modified Stits Playboy, and a Pitts Special. Over the years Vern has received many honors including the FAA Mechanic of the Year for South Dakota in 1963 and 1969, and the Great Lakes Region of the FAA Maintenance Technician of the Year in 1985. He has been honored at the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, KS, by the Ninety-Nines and the City of Atchison in 1994. He was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1994. He received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 1996. He keeps his pilot's license current with a current medical until the advent of the Sport Pilot designation, now using his driver's license, and has a current biennial flight review. He flies every day the weather permits in his Piper J-3 Cub. It is the same Cub he learned to fly in 1940. He tracked it down in the 1980s and restored it to original condition. Allen Neal (Rapid City), Richard Brandiger (Rapid City), and Norma Kraemer (Nemo) wrote letters of recommendation supporting Vern's application for the Master Pilot Award.  The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Norma Kraemer in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.


Dennis D. Martens - Vermillion

(September 2007)

Denny started working for Hubbard Aviation in Sioux Falls, SD, and taking flying lessons right after high school graduation in May 1957, soloed in a Cessna 120, and completed his private and commercial certificates. In 1959 he moved to Vermillion to work for Duane Cross and earned his flight instructor, instrument, multi-engine, and instrument flight instructor certificates. He became manager of the Vermillion Airport in 1961 and ran an FBO there providing flight instruction, air taxi, and aircraft rental. Denny provided pilot services to the University of South Dakota starting in 1967 flying a Cherokee 6. He became a full-time employee of USD when they purchased a Piper Aztec, which he flew for 6,000 hours. In 1976 USD bought a later model Aztec, which Denny flew for 5,000 hours. Denny earned his ATP in 1985. In 1986 USD purchased a Piper Navajo, which he flew until retirement in 2002, accumulating another 7,000 hours. Since retirement he has done aviation consulting work and flown part-time for USD when needed. He has been active in promoting general aviation and still gives flight instruction regularly and conducts ground school safety courses. Overall, Denny has accumulated about 27,000 hours with 18,000 hours multi-engine and 9,000 hours single engine – flying coast to coast, border to border, and to Alaska -- and given several thousand hours of dual instruction. He still owns the first aircraft he purchased in 1961, a 1956 Cessna 172. He completed a home-built project, a Midget Mustang. He flies both aircraft often. Jerry Swartz (Sgt. Bluffs, IA), Pete Kramer (Elk Point, SD), and Allan Martens (Aberdeen, SD) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Denny's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Brenda Martens in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.


Kenneth W. Merrill - Rapid City

(September 2008)

Ken soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub on January 13, 1956, at Gordon, NE, after instruction by Leo E. Orr. Years later Ken was able to give Leo a biennial flight review in a Taylorcraft. Ken earned his pilot's license in a Piper PA-18 from Byron Applebe at Alliance, NE, on May 7, 1960. He continued to ranch and work in western Nebraska using the Cub to check cattle and windmills, and fly for repairs and fun. In 1968 Ken earned his commercial, instrument, instructor, and multi-engine instructor ratings. In 1980 he earned his multi-engine instructor rating, and in 1986 his ATP rating. Ken spent time instructing at Ogallala, NE, when there were no runways, the all-way field was mowed, reflectors were nailed to fence posts, and pilots landed into the wind. Ken flew at North Platte and Hastings, NE, and did spraying south of North Platte. In the 1980s he flew for a commuter airline called G.P. Express based at Grand Island. In 1988 he flew for Medical Air Rescue, Black Hills Cattle Company, and WestJet Air Center, all in Rapid City. Ken has accumulated 14,000 hours of which 4,500 hours were single engine and 3,400 hours were instruction. Ken noted, 'It has been a wonderful career. I tell people I have never had to go to work, I get to go fly.' Ken continues to fly charter for Capital City Air Carrier from Rapid City. Dwight Pladsen (Rapid City), Larry Nelson (Rapid City), Linda Rydstrom (Rapid City), Jim Peitz (Pierre), and Grove Rathbun (Rapid City) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Ken's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Evelyn Merrill in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.


Mark Breuer - Howard

(September 2009)

Mark Breuer graduated from high school in 1945 and joined the US Navy at age 17, and attended the Navy V5 pilot training program at Dickinson, ND. When WWII ended he was discharged and returned home in Aug 1946 and took flying lessons under the GI Bill. Mark soloed in a 1946 Aeronca Champ on Aug 29, 1947, and earned his pilot's license in Oct 1947, his commercial rating in May 1949. He purchased a 1946 Aeronca Champ for $400 in May 1949 and had an aerial sprayer installed on the aircraft at Flandreau, SD – spraying his first field in Jun 1949. He continued as an aerial spray pilot for 37 years and retired in 1986. Mark flew numerous planes over the years including a PT-17 crop duster, J-3 Cub with belly tank sprayer, Pawnee PA-25 sprayer, Stinsons, Taylorcrafts, and Bonanzas. After the spraying season in SD, he sprayed cotton in Kansas and Texas. In Oct 1949 Mark earned his flight instructor rating and taught flying at Howard and Watertown. During 1955-56, he was a charter pilot for McGrathe Construction in Eau Claire, WI. After retirement from Breuer Aerial Crop Spraying, he continued to fly recreationally. As of Aug 2, 2002, Mark's logbook had 9,084 hours of flight time Chris Funk (Madison), Tim Clarke (Howard), and Eugene Lauer (Howard) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Mark's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Donna Breuer in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Richard Grorud - Grenville

(September 2009)

Richard Grorud soloed in a T-34 at Maiden AFB, MO, on Aug 4, 1958. He earned his USAF pilot wings at Webb AFB, TX, in Jul 1959, flying T-34s, T-28s, and T-33s. At Moody AFB, GA, he flew T-33s and F-86Ds. Richard remained at Moody AFB as an instructor until Oct 1960. He was an instructor at Reese AFB, TX, starting in Dec 1960, flying T-33s, T-37s, and T-38s. Later he moved to the Standardization Evaluation Division at Reese and instructed and checked all rated and instructor pilots in the T-33s, T-37s, and T-38s. He resigned from the Air Force in Aug 1965 and joined Braniff International Airlines in Dallas, TX. He instructed the Flight Engineer Position on the Boeing 707, 720, 707-300 &727. Richard moved to Minneapolis, MN, in Jun 1966 where he flew the Convair 340 & 440, and later flew the BAC One-Eleven and Boeing 727 & 747. While living in Minneapolis he purchased a Beechcraft Musketeer. In Nov 1977 Richard moved to Pickerel Lake near Grenville, SD. He used the Musketeer to fly to Minneapolis for his flying job with Braniff. When Braniff stopped operations, he used the Musketeer in his insurance business in SD and NE. Later he sold the Musketeer and purchased a Piper Comanche, which he still owns and uses for pleasure. Richard has accumulated over 16,000 flying hours James Grorud (Milbank), Steven Bauman (Northfield, MN), and James Behrens (Finlayson, MN) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Richard's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Crystal Grorud in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

James Nelson - Spearfish

(September 2009)

James Nelson completed Navigator training at Ellington AFB, TX, in Jan 1953, and flew as a B-29 navigator in 1953-54 in Korean, then on KC-97s in 1954-56, RB-47s in 1957-62, and C-47 flareships, and AC-47 gunships in Vietnam 1969-70. He had >4200 hours / 244 combat missions over his 31-year career in USAF. James joined the Forbes AFB Aero Club, KS, from 1957-62, soloed in a Super Cub on Sep 27, 1958, passed his check ride in an Aeronca Tri-Champ on May 20, 1959, and later flew Cessna 172s and a Comanche 250. In the Wright-Patterson AFB Aero Club, OH, he flew C-172s, Comanche 180 and 250, and Beech T-34. James did not fly as a private pilot from Jun 1969 until Nov of 1977 during his Vietnam and Washington, DC, tours. He has been current since 1977, flying C-182, M-20C Mooney, and PA-28-180 / 200 aircraft. In Sep 1987, James purchased a 1962 PA-24-250 Comanche, which he has modified / modernized continuously to the present day. He acquired his Instrument ticket Jun 26, 1996, while living in Prescott, AZ, flying his 250. James was inducted into the SD Aviation Hall of Fame / Combat Air Crew Memorial in 1996. He has given 50 Young Eagles flights, and has 1580 hours as a private pilot, with over 1200 hours in Comanche aircraft. He has flown his Comanche in all US states other than northeast of New York. Ray Jilek (Spearfish), Jeffrey Nelson (Marietta, GA), and Lorne Harmon (Prescott, AZ) submitted letters of recommendation supporting James' application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Ruth Nelson in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Larry Nelson - Rapid City

(September 2009)

Larry Nelson's first flying lesson was with W.M. Griener in an Ercoupe 415C on October 29, 1959. Seventeen days later, after 8 hours of dual instruction, he soloed on November 7 at Murdo, SD. Over the past 50 years he has owned seven different aircraft: two Ercoupes, two Piper Tripacers, a Piper PA-22 Cherokee, a Piper PA-28 Cherokee Arrow, and his present plane a Piper PA-22 Comanche. In Larry's 50 years of flying he has flown north to Winnipeg, Canada and south to Guatemala, Central America. He has winged it down the east coast of Mexico and back up the west coast. In the lower 48 states Larry has flown cross-country from coast to coast and enjoyed three flights to the Reno Air Races. While living in Pierre during the 1970s he served in the SD Civil Air Patrol as a captain, flying several search and rescue missions. He has been a member of AOPA for 43 years, the International Comanche Society for 33 years, EAA Chapter 39 for 8 years, and the SD Pilots Association. In 1989 Governor Mickelson appointed him to the SD Aeronautics Commission on which he continues to serve and this year as chairman. Throughout his years of flying he has accumulated over 1500 hours of flight time. He enjoys the freedom of flight and is thankful for the many journeys flying gives him. Bernie Christenson (Pierre), Ken Merrill (Rapid City), and Harley Taylor (Aberdeen) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Larry's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Pat Nelson in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Harley Taylor - Aberdeen

(September 2009)

Harley Taylor became inspired to fly in Aug 1958 when returning from a Canadian fishing trip in a Cessna 180. In Sep 1958 he started flying lessons with the first 8 hours in a cramped Cessna 140, so he purchased a Cessna 170B to continue his training. After 4 more hours of flight instruction time he soloed and soon had his license. Harley has owned various aircraft over the years: Cessna 180 in 1962, Cessna 182 in 1968, another Cessna 182 in 1973, new Cessna 210 in 1973, and new Cessna 421 C in 1977. He used his airplanes as a John Deere dealer to meet customers – landing in fields and county roads. In 1979 Harley bought Cessna 185 and installed Wipline Floats in 1980. His ratings include instrument, single engine land and sea, and multi-engine land. During the past 50 years, Harley has accumulated over 8,000 hours as PIC, and flown over most of the continental United States, plus Alaska and great portions of Canada including wilderness areas. Harley served 10 years on the Aberdeen, SD, Regional Airport Board, and 25 years as a member of the SD State Aeronautics Commission. Recently, Harley turned 84 years of age, and passed his Flight Physical and continues to fly. In 2006 Harley established an aviation scholarship at South Dakota State University. Stephen Eckrick (Rapid City), Nairn Hermansen (Aberdeen), Neil Mayer (St. Cloud, MN), Larry Nelson (Rapid City), and J. Geoffrey Slingsby (Rapid City) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Harley's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Adele Taylor in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Laverne (Vern) R. Tech - Rapid City

(September 2009)

Vern Tech enlisted in the US Air Force in the late 1950s was a member of the USAF Flying Club based at a civilian field near Novato, CA, and while stationed at Hamilton AFB. The club rented planes for $3-3.50/hour and instructors were $2/hour. He soloed on Apr 24, 1958, in a 1946 Aeronca, but did not complete his pilot license at that time. After his enlistment, he returned to SD, graduated from the University of South Dakota, and received an appointment to Officer Training School (OTS) in the USAF in 1961. In OTS he was accepted in to pilot training, and soloed on Mar 27, 1963. He flew T-37s at Big Springs, TX, and C-123s at Pope AFB, NC. Vern flew C-130s and accumulated over 3,000 hours in them flying to 43 countries. Vern served three tours in Vietnam flying C-130s. Between tours, he served as a flight instructor in T-41s and T-37s at Reese AFB, TX. From 1973 to his retirement in 1978 he was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, SD, and flew B-52s – accumulating about 500 hours. From 1973 to 1980 he owned a Cessna 172 at Rapid City Airport. After 1980, he rented planes for flying. In 1992 Vern bought a 1942 Aeronca Defender 'in a box' and rebuilt the aircraft, flying the restored plane in 2004. He has accumulated about 50 hours in the Aeronca, and flown at least 12 Young Eagles and given airplane rides to most of his grandkids. Vern has over 7,000 hours of total flight time. Vern Kraemer (Deadwood), Norma Kraemer (Deadwood), and Daniel Benkert (Rapid City) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Vern's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Judith Tech in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Colman 'Buzz' Wagner - Clark

(September 2009)

Buzz Wagner grew-up on the family farm in Spink County, SD, and built model airplanes using the cardboard from breakfast cereal boxes. In 1938, Buzz enrolled in aviation mechanics classes at South Dakota State University. He joined the Army Air Corps for World War II and became an aviation mechanic working on P-38 aircraft. He was stationed in both Central and South America where he worked on P-40s and B-17s. Following his military service, Buzz learned to fly at Watertown. He worked at Watertown Airport and ferried planes to the Watertown dealer from the Luscombe factory. Buzz was instrumental in establishing the Clark Airport in its current location where he built the first hanger. He managed the Clark Airport for 46 years. Buzz was both A&P and IA certified, bought and sold Taylorcrafts and Cessna 120s & 140s, and became one of the foremost experts on Aeronca Champs and Chiefs. Buzz owned and built many aircraft including Stinsons, a Baily 'Ace', EAA bi-plane, Midget Mustang, Bandit, and an Its It. He purchased a Bonanza Model 35 in 1974 and owned it at the time of his death on August 28, 2008. Buzz attended early EAA conventions in Rockport, IL, maintained an exhibitor's booth, and presented forums on Champs. He was important in establishing the 'Aeronca Lovers Club.' He maintained the International Aeronca Association until his death. Buzz developed and owned many STCs (Supplemental Type Certificate) for Aeroncas, especially engine modifications. Dwayne LaFave (DeSmet), Joe Amendt (Watertown), and Bill Krikac (Clark) submitted letters of recommendation supporting Buzz's application for the Master Pilot Award. The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Lloydine Wagner in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.


Charles F. Meyer - McCook Lake

(April 2010)

Chuck Meyer soloed in a J-3 Cub in 1947 at Sioux City Airport, later earning his commercial rating in a Cessna 120. As a private and commercial pilot, Chuck has accumulated the following flight times: single-engine land 13,489.2 hours, multi-engine land 7907.9 hours, turbo prop 1670.1 hours, and jet 2822.5 hours – which breaks down to 12,556.8 hours cross-country day, 1176.5 hours cross-country night, 207.5 hours SIM, 36.2 hours co-pilot, 1451.8 hours dual instruction received, 7103.4 hours dual instruction given, and 935.2 hours cross-country dual given. Chuck's career as including 3 years as a crop duster, 15 years as a flight instructor, FAA flight examiner, and charter pilot, and 23 years as a corporate pilot. 'Since ‘retirement' Chuck has enjoyed 16 years of flight instruction and continues to share the joy of flight whenever possible.' Chuck started his aviation career as a charter pilot and CFI at Graham Field in North Sioux City, and later moved with Graham to the Sioux City Airport. Chuck was the chief pilot for Metz Bakery for many years flying a Cessna Citation X and a King Air 200. Chuck even flew a charter flight carrying Liberace to Freeport, RI. Letters of recommendation were written by Alan Wehmer (Kaneohe, Hawaii), James Martin (Sioux City, IA), Eugene Martin, Sr. (South Sioux City, NE), Eugene (Chip) Martin (Sioux City, IA), William Greiner (Orange City, IA), Bert Crevier (Boston, MA), Gregory Meyer (N. Sioux City, IA), and Bayne Linden (McCook Lake, SD). Bruce Belgum and Rick Johnson of the Lincoln FSDO (NE) presented the award to Chuck during the FAA Safety Seminar held in South Sioux City, NE, on April 21, 2010. The FAA also presented a letter of appreciation and lapel pin to Chuck's wife Elaine Meyer for her support of her husband's aviation career.


LaDell R. Swiden - Madison

(October 2010)

LaDell Swiden's interest in aviation began with his father, Alick Swiden, who was one of Sioux Falls' earliest pilots. LaDell's first instruction was on Dec 29, 1955, in a Cessna 140 at age 17. He soloed in a Cessna 120 on Dec 31, 1956, and passed the checkride on Sept 8, 1958. After college graduation in 1961, LaDell and his wife (his first passenger) moved to St. Paul, MN, to work for Honeywell. He started a flying club in 1964, called Fly-Well, Inc., and was president for 3 years. In 1967, LaDell returned to Sioux Falls, SD, and passed the instrument checkride on Jan 30, 1969, and his commercial checkride Jun 2, 1969. LaDell and his wife developed over 100 patterns of insulated blankets and covers for engine cowls, propellers, wings, and tails that were sold under the Delta-S Enterprises label. The business was sold to Tanis Aircraft in 1985 when LaDell moved to St Louis, MO. LaDell passed his flight instructor checkride in 1986 in St Louis. LaDell is a member of the American Bonanza Society, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association. He is a past member of SD Air National Guard, SD CAP, and MN CAP. As of December 31, 2009, LaDell has logged more than 4,340 hours of flight time. His experience includes 115 hours in conventional gear aircraft and 4,062 hour in retractable gear aircraft. Over the years LaDell has flown in 49 states including Alaska and Hawaii, Canada, Norway, and Iceland. Letters of recommendation were written by Chris Funk (Madison), Acie Matthews (Sioux Falls), and Edward Dahlhoff (Sioux Falls). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Phyllis Swiden in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Clifford P. Adkins - Parkston

(November 2010)

Cliff was born near Milltown, SD, on May 15, 1917. He started flight training in 1938 at the Mitchell Airport, and soloed on December 29, 1939, in a Porterfield C-P-50. He earned his private pilot license at Mitchell on Feb 5, 1941; commercial rating on Jan 14, 1942; and his instructors rating on April 14, 1942. From 1942 to1944 he was in the War Training Service at Le Mars and Sheldon, IA, where he taught Army glider pilots and Army and Navy fighter pilots in primary and secondary flight training – giving over 3,000 hours of instruction. In 1944 Cliff enlisted in Navy and was a flight engineer and copilot of Martin B-26s at Pensacola, FL, where he accumulated about 150 hours towing targets for fighter pilot training. In 1948 Cliff established and operated a flight school at O'Neill, NE. Cliff married Jean Murphy in 1949, moved to Parkston, and established the first airport at Parkston. He ran a full service aviation operation at Parkston Airport and flew search and rescue flights, air ambulance, and wildlife counts. He taught over 100 pilots to fly. Cliff earned his A&E license in November 28, 1961, and received the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 2001. He was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame on August 19, 2000. From 1949 to 2008 Cliff was the manager of the Parkston Municipal Airport, and received the award for Best Maintained Small SD Airport of the Year for 2006 from SD DOT. Cliff flew regularly from 1938 until the summer of 2003 at age 86. He accumulated several thousands of hours of flight time. Letters of recommendation were written by Doug Sly (Platte), Les Kuebler (Parkston), Gerald Koch (Mt. Vernon), and Steve Hamilton (Yankton).

Earle R. Geide

Earle R. Geide - Hartford

(August 2011)

Earle grew up on the family farm near Canistota, and as a young boy, he would always scan the skies for airplanes flying over. Around his last year of high school (1938), Earle received his first ride with Earl Jensen who was a WWII flight instructor. Earle enlisted in the U.S. Army in mid-October 1941, and took a few flying lessons in 1942 at Brady, TX. After the service, Earle bought a 1940 Taylorcraft at the Navy Surplus in Yankton for $450. He drove 60 miles to take lessons from Simon Meirose at Yankton for $3 an hour. Earle soloed on 11-27-1945 in his Taylorcraft. Earle received his Private Pilot license on 12-05-1945 from Arvine Bierman at Yankton with 49 hours. He has owned several Luscombes, a Swift, Cessna 172, and a couple of Bonanzas. Earle currently flies a 1946 Luscombe and a 1961 Bonanza V-tail. He has a commercial pilot certificate with over 4,000 hours. He has used the airplanes for business (checking cattle) and pleasure (traveling to visit his wife's family in southern IN and for Flying Farmer activities). Earle's longest trip was to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Dawson City on August 17-31, 1987. Earle's wife, Cornelia (Connie) and he joined the Flying Farmers & Ranchers in 1954. He has held several offices and was awarded the South Dakota Flying Farmer of the Year in 1973. Earle and Connie's son Orrin has earned his commercial & flight instructor ratings and daughter, Joy Hohn, has earned her ATP & MEII. Letters of recommendation were written by Dennis Martens (Vermillion), Joy (Geide) Hohn (Hartford), and Lawrence 'Bud' Sittig (Centennial, CO). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Cornelia 'Connie' Geide in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

James P. Eisenmenger

James P. Eisenmenger - Yankton

(September 2012)

Jim started flight training in Fairbanks, AK, and soloed on September 23, 1961, in a Piper Colt after 7.0 hours of flight training. He earned his private pilot certificate at Merced, CA, on December 5, 1964. Jim entered U.S. Air Force pilot training in December 1966 at Moody AFB, GA, and graduated in December 1967. He earned his commercial and instrument ratings after graduating from USAF Pilot Training. During his USAF and Air National Guard careers he flew the T-41, T-37, T-38, T-33, F-102, F-100, A-7, C-131, and C-12 (instructor in F-100, A-7, and C-12). Jim flew 51 combat missions in the F-102 in Southeast Asia in 1969, and flew other missions to Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Great Britain, Panama, Thailand, Philippines, and Viet Nam. He retired from the ANG as a Colonel on March 16, 1992, with total military time at 5,005.4 hours. Jim flew the Mitsubishi MU-2 for 5 years accumulating about 1,750 hours. He flew for Northwest Airlines from March 1987 to September 2003 in the Boeing 727, Airbus 320, and DC-10, accumulating about 9,000 hours flying to Canada, Norway, Great Britain, France, Italy, India, Japan, Hawaii, and Netherlands. He has flown corporate and general aviation aircraft including King Air 200, Beech D-18, Cessna 310, Piper Twin Comanche, and owned personal aircraft including Cessna 175, Christian Eagle, and RV-4, accumulating about 3,000 hours. Jim also earned flight instructor ratings teaching instrument, airplane single engine land & sea, multiengine aircraft, and glider. Letters of recommendation were written by Brian Bade (Rapid City), William Rataczak (South Haven, MN), John Lillevold (Yankton), and Steve Hamilton (Yankton). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Judy Eisenmenger in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Peter Paul Hegg

Peter Paul Hegg - Sioux Falls

(September 2012)

Peter Hegg flew his 1-hour introductory flight on December 7, 1957 with instructor Tim Hessla in a Piper PA-11 (90HP) at the Stanton (aka Carlton Airport), Stanton, MN. The instructor demonstrated stalls, slow flight, and loops. After additional instruction with Ray Falon in Sioux Falls, Peter soloed at Joe Foss Field on January 1, 1958, in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub after 6.5 hours of instruction. He passed his private pilot check ride on November 27, 1960, with FAA examiner Ned Powers at Grand Rapids, MN, in a Cessna 180 after 98 hours of total time. Peter did his instrument training with his younger brother, Mark Hegg, and passed his instrument check ride on March 27, 1977, in Sioux Falls with FAA examiner Ken Barslow. Peter earned his multi-engine rating on December 23, 1981, in Sioux Falls flying a Piper Seneca II. His total time as a PIC is estimated at 15,000 plus hours, with multiengine time at about 2,000 hours. Peter used a variety of aircraft for personal and business travel covering the continental United States plus Alaska, Mexico, Canada, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Caribbean Islands, plus Greenland and Iceland. He was a partner / operator for 10 years in Business Aviation at Joe Foss Field. Business Aviation was an FBO with all the typical services plus freight hauling. Total employees were in excess of 100, and the company owned in excess of 40 aircraft. Letters of recommendation were submitted by Joe Swenson (Sioux Falls), David Zellmer (Sioux Falls), and Jim Peitz (Pierre). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Marilyn J. Hegg in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Boyd L. Porch

Boyd L. Porch - Kadoka

(September 2012)

Boyd took a break from college in fall of 1958 and started flight training along with his brother Stanley at Martin, SD, in a 65HP J-3 Cub. Boyd soloed on October 5, 1958 at Martin. He continued to fly while in Veterinary school at Iowa State University – taking cross country flights in a Super Cub to Missoula, MT, and Wichita, KS.  Boyd and a partner flew a Cessna 170 at Murdo where his first veterinary practice was located, and one time flew it to Winnipeg, Canada, to interview a doctor for the community of Murdo. Boyd moved his veterinary practice to Kadoka in 1969, and bought a 200 Maule on the West Coast and flew it up the Columbia River and back to SD. He used the Maule, later a Cessna 180, and still later a Cessna 185 in his practice. Boyd earned his commercial rating in October 1974. His next plane was a 180HP Cessna 170. All the planes were used for 'cow pasture flying' for his veterinary practice. His current plane is a Piper Pacer, which he continued to use in cow pasture flying and flying to destinations such as Middletown, OH, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Minneapolis, MN, and Denver, CO. In 1995 he completed the RIVER OF NO RETURN FLYING SCHOOL in Challis, ID, and since then has flown into three back country landing strips, including a camping trip with his wife Pat to a remote strip at the confluence of Moose Creek and the Selway River. Letters of recommendation were written by Bryan Brost (Canistota), Marsha Sumpter (Kadoka), and Vern Vander May (Kadoka). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Pat Porch in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.


Lawrence E. 'Larry' Pravecek - Winner

September 2012)

Larry was born in Winner, SD, and grew up on a farm southeast of town. After a ride in an Aeronca Champ in May 1960, Larry learned to fly through the ROTC flight program at South Dakota State, Brookings, between October 160 and June 1961. After college graduation, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Army and graduated from Army helicopter school. He was stationed in 3 years in Germany and flew 894 combat hours in Vietnam, earning the numerous Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross. After military service, he was a test pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT, for 7 years where he flew numerous helicopters. Larry then worked for 25 years for Erickson Aircrane in Oregon flying the S-64 Skycrane. While at Erickson Larry flew in 49 of 50 states, all of Canada, countries in Europe, South America, and Asia. His Skycrane work included building power lines, general construction, logging, and firefighting. One of Larry's most important jobs was putting up the last 335 feet of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, which was the tallest free standing structure in the world for over 30 years (1815 ft). Another job was replacing the Statue of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC, while over 50,000 people and the President watched. Shortly before retiring, he commuted to Italy for firefighting over an 18-month period. In April 1982 Larry completed building a Varieze, which he flew for 13 years. He currently owns and flys a Mooney. Larry has over 13,000 hours of flight time in 13 different helicopters and 7 fixed-wing aircraft. Letters of recommendation were written by >Frank Swisher (Eagle Point, OR), Timothy Moon, Sr. (Hillsboro, OR), Archie Harrell (University Place, WA), James Sovell (Ivanhoe, MN), and Max Evans (Lewis Center, OH). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Support Award' to Judy Wilcox in recognition of her support of Larry's flying career.


Forrest D. Wixon - Pierre

(September 2012)

Forrest did pilot training in the U.S. Air Force in September 1956 in T-34, T-28A, and T-33 (jet) aircraft. He graduated on September 1957 on 'Friday the 13th'. From September 1957 to August 1968 Forrest flew T-33, F-94C, F-89D&J, TF/F-102A, C-47, and B-25 in the 175th FIS (Fighter-Interceptor Squadron), SD Air National Guard. From September 1968 to 1974 he made occasional flight with friends and flights charted by the state when an instructor was present. From 1974 through August 1977 Forrest earned his private certificate and commercial and instrument ratings both with single and multiengine. From 1977 to 1983 he flew part-time air-taxi for Ice Flying in Archer, Comanche, Lance, Cherokee 6, and Seneca aircraft. From December 1984 to June 2005 he was part owner, maintenance officer, and vice president of the Cherokee Aero Club, and did check outs and flight reviews of new owners with owner allowed maintenance of aircraft (Cherokee 140, Cherokee 235, Piper Warrior). On June 15, 1986, Forrest earned his single engine flight instructor rating, and his instrument instructor rating in 1995. From 1988 to 1990 he was an instructor pilot, stan-eval pilot, and check pilot for the SD Wing of the CAP Pierre Composite Squadron. From 1998 to present he was an instructor pilot, check pilot, and mission pilot for the SD CAP. He checked out in a G-1000 glass panel Cessna 182T in November 2008. From 1995 to 2008, he flew part time air-taxi and instructed for Capital City Air Carrier. From 2008 to present Forrest has been a part time instructor. Letters of recommendation were submitted by Myra Christensen (Pierre), Kevin Tveidt (Pierre), Jon Becker (Pierre), and Jim Peitz (Pierre). The SDPA presented a 'Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Award' to Alice J. Wixon in recognition of her support of her husband's flying career.

Bert C. Corwin - Rapid City

(September 2013)

At the early age of 17, Bert began learning how to fly. Back in 1948 things were much different taking off and landing at the M-C Ranch Airport in Enning, SD. Those days seem like yesterday, and he can still easily recall that day in May 1948 when he first soled in a Luscomb 8E. His private pilot flight check was conducted in a J3 Cub on July 17, 1950.
Bert has had a lifetime experience of flying. The aviation stories from Bert are reminders about lessons learned and judgments exercised. Bert has flown a wide range of aircraft, such as the Piper TriPacer, many Cessna makes and models, the Taylorcraft, Ercoupe, Navion, Beechcraft Musketeer, Mooney, Aroneca Champ, Piper TriPacer, and Citabria.
Bert has made trips around South Dakota and to places like Billings, Salt Lake City, North Las Vegas, Dallas, Panama City, Lakeland, Appleton, and many more. Today Bert still keeps his two aircraft, a Cessna and Citabria, at the Rapid City Regional Airport. Bert has a passion for aviation and hopes to keep flying for several more years. What a great inspiration Bert has been to many friends and family members. Flying has been an important part of Bert's life, and he considers himself fortunate to have flown for so many years. A Master Pilot plaque and lapel were presented to Bert, and a lapel pen was presented to Lydia Corwin. Letters of recommendation were written by Marty Larson (Rapid City), Jerry Mitchell (Rapid City), and Cameron Humphres (Rapid City).

James R. Ketchen - Rapid City

(September 2013)

Jim started his flight training in Chatham, Massachusetts. During his high school and college years Jim worked at his family FBO fueling and cleaning airplanes to earn flight time towards his private and commercial pilot certification. Jim's first solo was on April 28, 1963, in a Piper Colt. After college he joined the US Navy and served as a radar and electronic countermeasures operator. After two tours in the Tonkin Gulf, Jim attended G.I. Flight School at Brown Field in San Diego and obtained his Instrument, Multi-Engine Rating, and Flight Instructor Certificates. In addition, Jim obtained all three Ground Instructor Ratings. After an honorable discharge in 1971, he became active in general aviation as a flight instructor. Over the years he was instrumental in helping others learn to fly and encouraged many students to advance into aviation careers. Jim's contributions to General Aviation are abundant and include many hours and years of quality instruction to many aspiring pilots. In 1979, Jim found many years of enjoyment selling aircraft and providing assistance to buyers wishing to purchase their own aircraft. Jim's flight experience has been accumulated in 55 different makes and models of single engine airplanes and 17 different makes and models of multi-engine airplanes. Jim has an excellent reputation in our South Dakota aviation community and has been a leader to many people. Flying has been an important part of Jim's life. He considers himself fortunate to have flown for so many years. With over 7,000 of flight time, Jim's Birthday is next September 11, and what a great celebration looking back over 50 years of aviation history. A Master Pilot plaque and lapel were presented to James, and a lapel pen was presented to Margaret Ketchen. Letters of recommendation were written by Ron Albertson (Rapid City), Albert Fisher (Rapid City), and Robert Hover (Rapid City).


John Barney - Brookings

(September 2014)

John started flying in 1959, and after just 9.1 hours of flight instruction he soloed in a Piper Cub at the airport in Massena, New York. Since that time John has accumulated over 20,000 hours of flight time. Thanks to many years of experience, John has been instrumental in helping hundreds of students and flight instructors develop their piloting skills. John has served our aviation community as a Chief Pilot under Part 135 and Chief Flight Instructor under Part 141. Over the years John wrote, developed, and implemented numerous training course outlines for South Dakota State University's Aviation Program. John's expertise enabled him to pursue and obtain a Part 145 Repair Certificate for the repair of Cessna Aircraft Rudder Pedals. He has a Parts Manufacturing Approval to manufacture replacement rudder pedals for Cessna Aircraft. John is the holder of an Airframe and Power Plant Certificates, as well as Mechanic Certificate with Inspector Authorization privileges. In addition, he holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with Multi-Engine, Helicopter, and Glider ratings. John has many years of teaching as Certified Flight Instructor for both multi-engine and single-engine. In addition he has enjoyed teaching glider instruction. John is a current Designated Pilot Examiner and has established a professional relationship with the FAA. John has also been an asset to the FAA Safety Team by providing counseling and organizing many safety seminars and flight instructor meetings. The South Dakota Pilot Association has also benefited from his leadership as their current President and has been a member since 2003. A Master Pilot plaque and lapel were presented to John, and a lapel pen was presented to Dianna Torson. Letters of recommendation were written by Cody Christensen (Brookings), Warren Hovland (Brookings), and Steve Hamilton (Yankton).

Bernard W. Christenson

Bernard W. Christenson - Pierre

(November 2014)

Bernie began his aviation career while attending South Dakota State University in Brookings. He first soloed on April 9, 1962, in an Aeronca Champ 7AC and received his private pilot certificate on March 5, 1963. Following college, Bernie was employed with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for 20 years. In 1972, Bernie was transferred by the DCI from Chamberlain, SD, to Pierre, SD, where he continued to work from 1963 to 1983. Bernie worked directly under the Attorney General and helped that office see the benefit and use of an aircraft for law enforcement/ In January of 1973, the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Rapid City appointed Bernie as a Designated Pilot Examiner. Bernie has served our aviation community as a Chief Pilot under Part 135, and wrote, developed, and implemented numerous training courses and Part 135 General Operations Manuals. When Bill Janklow was elected as Attorney General, he requested to have Bernie teach him how to fly and provided flight instruction for his multi-engine rating. Bernie has flown many Governors for the State of South Dakota part time. In 1973, Cecil Ice who was the owner of Ice Flying Service, asked Bernie to be a part of his Part 135 operating certificate. After working with Cecil, he became their Chief Pilot and Company Check Pilot. In 1989, Bernie teamed up with Jim Peitz and purchased Ice Flying Service. In 2006, Bernie sold his half of the business known as Capital City Air Carrier (CCAC). Bernie is still Chief Pilot and Company Check Pilot for CCAC, now doing business as Mustang Aviation. He has been a Chief Pilot and Company Check Pilot for almost 40 years. What a great journey it's been for Bernie and his wife Sally. Congratulations Bernie! Letters of nomination were written by Buron "Lindy" Lindbloom (Pierre), Nicole Christoffer (Sioux Falls), Bryan Brost (Canistota), Steve Cable (Pierre), Jake Kaplan (Meridian, ID), Rob Miller (Minneapolis, MN), Roland Ritter (Pierre), and Chad Westwover (Pierre).

Richard E. Bown

Richard E. Bown - Black Hawk

(November 2014)

Richard began his aviation career in 1963 with the United States Air Force (USAF) as an Instrument Instructor for the B-47, B-52, and KC-135 aircraft. His first solo flight was flying a PA-128 in Merced, California on September 1, 1964. In 1967 and after serving four years in the USAF, Richard took the opportunity to work for Trans World Airlines (TWA) as a specialized instructor for the B-727 and DC-9 aircraft. In 1976, Richard left TWA, attended Central Missouri State University, and obtained a Bachelor of Science with a Master Degree in Aviation Safety Management In 1977, Richard began working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Flight Service Specialist and in 1981 became an Aviation Safety Inspector. In 1984, Richard joined the South Dakota Army Guard (SDAG) as a helicopter pilot and there he served as a Company Safety Officer. His position with the SDAG provided extensive experience developing comprehensive systems safety programs. In 1987, Richard accepted a position as the Rapid City Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) Operations Unit Supervisor. In 1998, he became the Assistant Manager for the Rapid City FSDO. Over the years, Richard has encouraged and mentored many airmen into rewarding careers. His diverse technical expertise has significantly contributed to the aviation communities within South Dakota. Richard will soon be retiring from the FAA and plans to spend some well-deserved time with family and friends. What a great journey it's been for Richard and his wife Kathy. Congratulations Richard! Letters of Nomination were written by Kenneth East Jr. (Rapid City), Christian Frank (Rapid City), and Albert "Chuck" Trumble (Rapid City).


Donald D. Blumenberg - Fulton

(September 2015)

Donald Dean Blumenberg was born in Mitchell, SD, on May 25, 1934. As a youngster, Don cut out a cardboard airplane from a cereal box to spark his interest in aviation. After graduating from Fulton High School in 1952, Don enrolled and graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1956. He served in the Army and the SD National Guard as a fixed wing and helicopter mechanic. Don married Ellene Gannon in 1958, and they had three daughters. After 36 years of marriage, Ellene passed away in 1994. In 2006, Don married Judy Brockhouse who enjoys flying in the right seat. Don started flying in August 1952 and soloed at age 18. He trained in a J-3 Cub with an instructor at a total cost of $6.00 per hour. His instructor told him, 'Keep the nut between the rudder and stick tight – and you're the ‘nut.'' He earned his instrument rating in August 1976. Don has owned and flown many aircraft over the years including a Luscombe 8E, Piper PA-20, PA-22, PA-28, Grumman AA-5, Mooney-21, Cessna 182, and Cessna 210. Currently Don owns a Piper PA-22 and Cessna 182 which are his favorite. Don used his aircraft in cattle feeding and farming operations which at times was not fast enough to keep up. He bought cattle from Mexico to Canada, and fed them mostly in Kansas and Fulton, SD. At the age of 76, Don decided to enjoy flying more for leisure than chasing cattle. He still holds a valid medical certificate with no restrictions and maintains his proficiency with IFR flying. For Don and Judy it's been a great journey, both on the ground and in the air. The best thing is having an 18 year old grandson who also is a pilot and loves flying their Cessna 182. Letters of nomination were written by Peter Hegg (Sioux Falls), Mark Breuer (Howard), and Jon Krall (Minneapolis, MN).

Allen B. Neal

Allen B. Neal - Rapid City

(October 2015)

Allen 'Al' Byron Neal began flying at age 23 and soloed in a Cessna 150 on May 24, 1964, at Greeley, Colorado. Shortly after obtaining his Private Pilot Certificate, he continued on with his training to get a Commercial Pilot Certificate with multi-engine, instrument rating, and a single-engine seaplane rating. His love for flying opened doors to discover even greater reward as a certificated flight instructor teaching many pilots how to fly. Al currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with both single and multiengine ratings. Al pursued his dreams in aviation as a FAA Flight Service Specialist which paved the way to becoming an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector and Safety Program Manager. His position with FAA provided many opportunities to assist pilots, aircraft owners, and operators establish rewarding careers. Al's humor became well known over the years and has always been an effective part of helping pilots learn how to fly safely. In 1999 he retired from the FAA and currently resides in Rapid City, SD, with his wife Glenda. They have been blessed with three children and still enjoy traveling. For Al and Glenda it's been a great journey, both on the ground and in the air. Best wishes to them as they continue to look ahead with pride and very few regrets. Congratulations Al on receiving this very prestigious reward. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Lance Weaver (Rapid City), Charles Shouldis (Rapid City), Daniel Benkert (Rapid City), Scott Christiansen (Rapid City), Rick Belsaas (Rapid City), Terry Olson (Rapid City), and Jerry Petersen (Rapid City).


Jerry Elmer Ellingson - Lake Preston

(September 2016)

The first airplane ride Jerry Ellingson took was at age 15 from a family friend. Ever since that flight his passion for flying kept growing. While living in Preston, SD, both Jerry and his brother flew aircraft while living on their family farm. On several occasions without their parents knowing, they would tell them that they were going out to look at tractor parts, but instead they were sneaking out to the Brookings Airport for flight lessons. His first solo flight took place on October 10, 1965, in a Piper PA-18. Jerry has now accumulated well over 4,500 hours of flight time in tail-draggers. He developed his skill at an early age as a natural "stick-and-­rudder" pilot. Back then it was a challenge doing aerial fox hunting. His ultimate challenge was in March 1972 while chasing down a pack of six wolves in Ontario, Canada. Jerry also owned and operated an aerial spraying business for ten years in the Lake Preston area. Over his fifty year history, he's owned and flown a variety of aircraft, including a Super Cub, Cessna 180, Citabria, and Aeronca Champs. Most of the neighbors in the Lake Preston area knew Jerry as the expert in "low-altitude" flying. Whenever help was needed with local search and rescue missions, Jerry was willing to help out and search for lost boaters or hunters. The most memorable flight was in 1988 doing a search in Deuel County for a suspect involved with an armed robbery case who was hiding out in a field; Jerry's son Wayne was a Deputy Sheriff at that time. After selling his Cessna 180, he enjoyed flying ultralights for 17 years and then purchased a Citabria. What a great journey it has been for both Jerry and his wife Betty. Congratulations Jerry on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of recommendation for the award were submitted by Wayne Ellingson (Brandon), Keith Goodhope (Winner), and Stan Rauch (Lake Preston).


Irvin Dennis Lewis - Hot Springs

(September 2016)

Denny Lewis found a fascination with flying when the local flight school offered airplane rides for one penny per pound. So weighing 140 pounds and for $1.40 he got his first airplane ride. He first soloed in a Cessna 150 on February 21, 1966, at South Saint Paul, Minnesota. Shortly after receiving his Private Pilot Certificate, he continued on with training a got a Commercial Pilot Certificate with instrument and multi-engine ratings. His love for flying opened new doors to discover even greater reward as an Airline Transport Pilot flying Lear Jets, Dassault Falcons, and the Citation 650 and 750. Denny has seven type ratings, over 15,000 hours of flight time, and has flown for nine different corporations. He has taken a personal interest in maintaining his own Bonanza through participation in the American Bonanza Society clinics and assisting in the annual inspection process of his own aircraft. Over the years, Denny has been an active participant in the FAA Wings Pilot Proficiency Program and enjoys attending safety seminars. When you ask Denny if he would do it all again, the answer is "yes, and never quit learning." For Denny and his wife Myrna, it's been a great journey, both on the ground and in the air. Best wishes to them as they continue to look ahead with pride and very few regrets. Congratulations Denny on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Jerry Densmore (Rapid City), David Maib (New Smyrna Beach, FL), and Lynn Teppen (Hudson, WI).


Jerome Francis Mitchell - Rapid City

(September 2016)

Jerry Mitchell graduated from Northern State University in 1961 and then joined the U.S. Air Force where as a Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant began navigator training for the B-52s. He was stationed at Minot Air Force Base, ND, until 1966 and continued on with his flight training. On April 29, 1966, Jerry made his first solo flight in a Maule M-4 tail-dragger. After moving to Rapid City in 1967, he earned his commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, flight instructor certificate, and Airline Transport Pilot certificate. Jerry found great reward from teaching as a certified flight instructor and flying charter flights under Part 135. From 1967 to 1971, he taught for the Douglas School System at Ellsworth Air Force Base. From 1969 through 1970, Jerry was a graduate student and flew research flights for the Institute of Atmospheric Science at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. From 1970 through 1974, he flew Beech 18s on U.S. mail routes in South Dakota, including that memorable night of the Rapid City flood in 1972. From 2001 through 2004, he flew a Cessna 210 and Lear 35 for Moyle Petroleum. Jerry has proudly served on the Rapid City Regional Airport Board of Directors and also on the Rapid City Airport General Aviation Committee. Jerry and his wife Mary Ellen reside in Rapid City and continue to serve our aviation community. Best wishes to both of them. Congratulations Jerry on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Albert Fisher (Rapid City), James Ketchen (Rapid City), and Bert Corwin (Rapid City).


Lynn Ralph Riedesel - Brookings

(September 2016)

Lynn Riedesel first soloed on November 5, 1964, in a Cessna 172 out of Brookings, SD. Lynn served our country in the U.S. Air Force flying multiple types of aircraft and achieving the rank of Captain. Lynn then pursued his passion for aviation in the civilian life flying for North Central Airlines and then Northwest Airlines. His love for aviation paved a path to many type ratings which included the McDouglas DC-9, DC-10, Boeing 727, 747, 757, 767, and the Airbus A-320. One of Lynn's greatest and most rewarding contributions to aviation is serving on Industry Advisory Board with the South Dakota State University. In 2002 he saw the importance of having an aviation program at SDSU and helping others achieve their dream of becoming a pilot. Lynn has been instrumental in promoting aviation safety and serves as a well-respected ambassador to the profession we all love. Lynn has given many check-rides in his Extra-300 where part of every briefing includes the phrase "if you start getting sick, I can turn this thing into an airliner in an instant." His kind spirit and ability to make people laugh helps calm the fears of many newly certified aerobatic pilots. Lynn enjoys being a guest speaker at various events and has mentored many pilots as they prepare for professional aviation careers. For Lynn and his wife Diane, aviation has become a big part of their lives. They enjoy living in Brookings and look ahead to the future with great pride and very few regrets. Congratulations Lynn on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Cody Christensen (Brookings), Christopher Funk (Volga), and Pat Springer (Florence).

Bruce Allred

Bruce E. Allred - Vermillion

(December 2016)

Bruce acquired his student pilot certificate on May 11, 1966 following his 5-year service as a Navy electronics technician during the Viet Nam War. He soloed in an Aeronca Champ on May 26, 1966, a Cessna 150 on May 19, 1967, a Cherokee 140 on May 22, 1967, and a Cessna 172 on July 21, 1967 near his hometown of Shelley, ID. Bruce earned his commercial rating (single engine) in a Cessna 150 on September 6, 1967, and commercial (multi-engine) in a Twin Comanche on April 25, 1968. He next earned his instrument rating in a Cessna 172 on April 26, 1968, and airline transportation pilot rating in a Mitsubishi MU-2 on May 1, 1981. He earned his CFI (single engine) in a Cessna 150 on September 7, 1967, and CFI (multi-engine) instrument rating in a Beechcraft BE100 on January 10, 1989. Bruce was type rated in a Learjet LR45-LR60 on January 21, 1993; a Bombardier Challenger 300 on September 3, 2003; a Bombardier Challenger 604 on February 22, 2008; and a Raytheon 390 Premier 1 on April 22, 2008. Over the years Bruce was an aerial applicator in Shelley, Idaho and both Kearney and Holdrege, NE, in the 1970s and 1980s. Beginning in 1971 Bruce flew for Priority Air Dispatch out of Offutt Air Force Base. He was also a corporate pilot flying the MU-2 for Baldwin Manufacturing Company in Kearney, NE during the 1980s. Bruce joined the FAA FSDO, Wichita, KS in 1989. He served as an Aviation Safety Inspector, Safety Program Manager, FAASTeam Program Manager, and later a Fleet Training Program Manager in the Flight Safety International CMU (Certificate Management Unit). He retired from the FAA in 2011. Congratulations to Bruce on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Robert W. Agostino (Aviation Director, Group Holdings Aviation), Felix L. Lococo (Senior Regional Technical Advisor, FAA Central Region), and Jeff Spangler (Aviation Safety Inspector, FAA AFS-630 Airman Testing Standards Branch).

Roger Huntley

Roger A. Huntley - Yankton

(July 2017)

Roger Huntley soloed at age 28 on June 8, 1965, in a Cessna 172 at the Yankton Airport. Roger's interest in aviation began in his early young years watching World War II planes flying overhead when he lived in California. After serving in the Army, Roger returned to Yankton and starting taking flight lessons on April 18, 1965, from D. Deane Iverson, Aviation Services in Yankton. In October 1965, Roger bought a partnership on a Cessna 150 and obtained his Private Pilot Certificate on November 3, 1965. In September 1967, Roger and his partner decided to move up to a four-seater and purchased a Cessna 172. Roger used the GI Bill for training to earn a commercial rating, which he earned on January 30, 1970. He was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and a check pilot for the PA-18 Cub. Roger worked for the Job Corps Program as a Vocational Instructor, which allowed him to stay proficient as a pilot. He was later promoted to a Field Coordinator, which allowed him to rent various aircraft in different cities, including flying a Piper PA-18 on snow skies. In 2002, Roger retired and was able to spend more time flying and bought into a partnership on a Cessna 172. His love for flying was shared with over 200 Young Eagle flights. Roger has contributed to the Yankton Regional Aviation Association as past president, and also served 10 years on the City of Yankton Airport Advisory Board. Roger is a long-time member with the EAA and AOPA. What a great journey it has been for both Roger and his wife Marilyn. Congratulations Roger on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of recommendation were written by Rolly Goeden (Crofton, NE), Steve Hamilton (Yankton), John Lillevold (Yankton), and Dennis Martens (Vermillion).

Roger R Hutchison

Roger R. Hutchison - Sioux Falls

(October 2017)

As a youngster, Roger accompanied his father to the local airport in Sheldon, IA, to visit his father's friend who was a pilot. Roger graduated from High School in 1959 and started college at Westmar College in Le Mars, IA. He took a Discovery Flight at Le Mars Airport in December 1961 with Robert Ruelle. In the Fall of 1963, Roger began his teaching career in Omaha, NE. He took flying lessons at North Omaha Airport with instructor Don R. Bonacci, and instructor Robert Ruelle at Le Mars, IA -- in a Cessna 140 or Aeronca 7AC. Roger soloed in a Cessna 140 on January 26, 1962, and earned his Private Pilot Certificate on May 19, 1965, in an Aeronca. Roger checked out in a tricycle gear aircraft at Sheldon, IA, with instructor Elmer Muecke in a Mooney M20C. Roger's travels took him to places like Chicago, Denver, Rapid City, Aberdeen, International Falls, Waterloo, Mason City, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plus out to Livingston and Havre, Montana. In the mid-1960s Roger moved to Cedar Rapids, IA, earned his Master's Degree in education at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). He flew at Wathan's Flying Service at Cedar Rapids, IA, with instructors Chis Fedde and Harley Noe, and was checked out in a Bonanza Beechcraft A23 From 1975 –1981, Roger had a partnership in a Mooney MC20 with Dr. Willis Blair at Cedar Rapids Airport. He sold his share to Dr. Blair and moved to Sioux Falls, SD, in August 1981. The move to South Dakota was for a new career and a wife Mary Ellen who was an aviation enthusiast. Roger and Mary Ellen earned their Instrument and Commercial Single Engine Land certificates in 2006 and 2010, respectively. Since 2000, they have owned a Cessna 182 Skylane Congratulations Roger on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of Nomination were from Dennis A. Martens (Vermillion), Harley K. Noe (Cedar Rapids, IA), and Steven R. Hoogerhyde (Hermosa).

Mark D O'Leary

Mark D. O'Leary - Sioux Falls

(October 2017)

Mark O'Leary began flight training at 16 years old while working as a line-boy at the Eveleth-Virginia Airport in Eveleth, MN. Mark soloed on September 25, 1966, earned his Private Pilot Certificate on June 17, 1967, Commercial Certificate on June 20, 1968, and Instrument Rating on May 25, 1972. Mark graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1972, and entered the U.S. Navy's Flight Program. He began training on August 24, 1972, in Pensacola, FL, piloting the T-34. His training in formation flying, carrier landings, and advanced aerobatics, continued in the T-28 from January 20, 1973, until landing on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington on June 25, 1973. Mark did multi-engine training at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, TX, in the TS-2A. He earned his Navy Wings in October 1973, and took initial training in the C-130 with the U.S. Air Force in Little Rock, AR. From January 1974 until August 1977 Mark flew communication missions throughout Western and Central Europe, and also the Caribbean. At retirement from the U.S. Navy in March 1978, he had accumulated a total of 2,751 hours of flight time of which 2,253 were military hours. On April 3, 1978, Mark began his airline career in a Convair 580 with North Central Airlines and later Republic Airlines. In May 2008, Mark recorded 10,907 hours in the DC-9, 1,244 hours in the MD-80, and 6,716 hours in the A-320. Mark flew the Airbus A-330 internationally until his retirement on January 28, 2010, from Delta Airlines. Since Mark's retirement, he continues to fly in general aviation, primarily as a member of the Mockingbird Flying Club, Sioux Falls. Concurrent with his aviation career, Mark attended law school, graduating in 1986, and has been engaged in the practice of law. To date, Mark has accumulated 25,863 total hours of flight time. Congratulations Mark on receiving this very prestigious award. Letters of Nomination were from Michael D. O'Leary (Fremont, MI), Neil F. Schmid (Sioux Falls), and Bruce S. Beecroft (Sioux Falls).

Billy E Davis

Billy E. Davis - Castlewood

(September 2018)

Billy Davis grew up in San Diego, CA, and graduated from high school in 1964. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in April 1966 and served for 4 years as an aircraft mechanic (jet engine mechanic) on B-52s and KC-135s, served in Vietnam, and later as a flight support crew member for SR71 and U2 missions at Beale AFB, CA. Billy learned to fly at Beale AFB, CA, and soloed on October 4, 1967, in a Cessna 150 (N3937U). While working in the San Diego Fire Department, Billy flew support in his own aircraft. He also flew as a volunteer pilot to transport and provide doctors, equipment, and supplies to remote areas of Mexico as part of the Mercy Hospital Outreach Program. Billy flew communications support and provided viewing and communication for the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 Races. He has owned several aircraft over the years including a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub (N70180), Cessna 172 (N5739T), Cessna 182 (N32775), Cessna P210 (N888EC), and currently flies a Cessna T210 (N732AD). Billy has also been a certificated aircraft mechanic for over 50 years. He has accumulated over 5,000 hours of flight time and flown many trips between San Diego (Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, KMYF) and his home in Castlewood, SD. A Wright Brothers Master Pilot plaque and lapel pin were presented to Billy, and a lapel pen was presented to Shaunie Davis. Letters of recommendation were written by Leslie A. Mark (San Diego, CA), Ken Gross (San Diego, CA), Chuck McGill (San Diego, CA), and Gordon S. Churchill (San Diego, CA).

james huts

James J. Huls - Madison

(September 2018)

Jim was born and raised on a farm near Salem, SD. He always had an interest in operating and building anything mechanical. At an early age Jim always watched North Central Airlines DC-3s pass over the family farm on its route from Sioux Falls to Mitchell. After high school and college (SD State University, Brookings, BS Mechanical Engineering and a Commission in the U.S. Air Force), Jim was stationed at McGuire AFB, DE, where he joined the Base Aero Club and started flying. First flight 20 July 1967, soloed on 19 Sept 1967, at McGuire AFB with 12.4 hours. All flights were in C-150s. He earned his private pilot certificate on 20 July 1968 at Mercer County Airport, Trenton, NJ, with 53.5 hours. Jim separated from the U.S. Air Force, and worked in South Dakota as a Design and Manufacturing Engineer. He used his pilot certificate for work and recreation thereafter. Jim flew rental aircraft until joining Mockingbird Flying Club (1984). He earned his Commercial, Instrument, Multi-engine, and Flight Instructor certificates. Jim developed an interest in Experimental/Amateur Built aircraft and built a Vans RV-4 aircraft (N827JH) in 1989. The aircraft's first flight was on 4 July 1996, at Madison. He flew this plane for several years before building a Vans RV-8A (N827JP), whose first flight was on 2 December 2002. Jim currently flies this aircraft. He enjoys building as much as flying. Jim has attended several Team Aerodynamics (Team RV) formation flight schools and enjoys flying formation. Total flight time is nearing 1,900 hours. Jim continues to fly as often as possible because flying never gets old. Jim and his wife Pat reside in Madison and continue to enjoy aviation as a part of their lives. Best wishes to both of them. Congratulations to Jim on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the SDPA. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Jim Eisenmenger (Yankton), Christopher Funk (Volga), and Steve Hamilton (Yankton).

Kenneth Kit Thomson

Kenneth Kit Thomson - Sioux Falls

(September 2018)

Kit soloed in an Aeronca 7AC (N85445) on 5/20/67 at Williard Flying Service, Paine Field, Everett, WA. He built time in his dad's newly acquired Stinson 108-3 and earned his private pilot certificate. Kit earned his instrument, commercial, and flight instructor ratings at Galvin Flying at Boeing Field, Seattle, WA. He moved to Alaska and flew for ERA Helicopters for awhile in DHC-6 Twin Otters. Kit returned to Seattle and flew for Cascade Airways in 1977. He received his ATP in a BE-99, and later gave Initial Operating Experience (IOE) to new hires and those moving up to the new Embraer Bandeirante (Bandit) EMB110 and the Swearingen SA227. Kit took the opportunity to commute to Baltimore to work for the start up airline branch of DHL Airways as assistant chief pilot in February 1983. He upgrade to the LR35. He became a member of the 2nd B727 class at DHL Airways, flew as Captain almost immediately, and served as a Check Airman and IOE Instructor. Kit attended the ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association) Accident Investigation school and became DHL's first Chief Accident and Safety Inspector. He become an aircraft test pilot for B727s, and later entered the first class for the DC8-73. He became involved in the NAT (North Atlantic Track) proving runs arid served as Check Airman and IOE duties. CRM (Crew Resource Management) was introduced, and Kit quickly and fully embraced the concept. After 29 years at DHIL Airways (later ASTAR), Kit retired in 2012. After several years of not flying, he purchased a Lancair Legacy. He acquired over 20,000 hours and over 50 years experience without suffering any real catastrophic emergencies. Kit's experience has been accident and incident free. Congratulations to Kit on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the South Dakota Pilots Association. Letters of nomination for the award were submitted by Carl Hett (Everett, WA), Jens Basberg (Shelbyville, KY), and Jon Thocker (Cincinnati, OH).

James Cox

James G. Cox - Yankton

(September 2019)

It was in 1968 that brought the most change and opened up several new chapters for Jim Cox. The change that helped inspire Jim was getting married to his wife Betty on August 8, 1968. Shortly after that historical event, he began flight lessons on September 20 and then mastered his first solo on October 25 in a Cessna 150. His first solo took place in Rapid City through B&L Aviation. Jim obtained his private pilot certificate on December 20, 1968. Between September 1970 and September 1971, Jim was in charge of overseeing army aircraft maintenance for Vietnam. Jim has a joint ownership of a Mooney, N6737N with Vernon C. "Skip" VanDerhule. Together they enjoyed the benefits of having updated GPS and ADS-B equipment in their aircraft. Jim currently holds an instrument and multi-engine rating. Jim has been active with the Yankton Regional Aviation Association. He also served 10 years on the airport board, with three of those as acting chairperson. One of Jim's greatest success has been to help local commissioners and citizens understand the value and importance of local airports to a community. The Young Eagles have benefited from Jim's dedication and commitment to our newest generation of pilots. Over the years, his devotion to aviation have gained him valuable experience. He is very meticulous and detailed when it comes to pre­flight planning and pre-flighting his aircraft. He is well-known for keeping his aircraft washed, waxed, and maintained in good condition. With over 1012 hours of flight time and with 50 years of aviation experience, Jim is still determined to keep enjoying aviation Congratulations Jim on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the SDPA. Letters of nomination were written by John Lillevold (Yankton), Jacob Hoffner (Yankton), and Vernon 'Skip' VanDerhule (Yankton).

Robert McLaughlin

Robert J. McLaughlin - Brookings

(September 2019)

Robbie McLaughlin began flying in 1959 out of Sioux Falls, SD. His first solo was on June 10, 1959, in a Luscombe Silvaire 8-F Rob continued to earn his commercial pilot certificate in both single and multi-engine land aircraft. He also enjoyed instructing as a certified flight instructor and ground instruction. The most enjoyable was instrument flying. In May of 1967, Rob started flying commercially full-time. He provided flight instruction while flying a charter pilot out of Sioux Falls and Tea, SD. In August of 1969, Rob began flying for South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, SD. He primarily flew SDSU employees and enjoyed that for 34 years. While flying for SDSU, he gained more than 13,000 hours. Included was more than 8,000 hours in a Piper PA-24 Comanche, and more than 4,000 hours in a Cessna 310. During his time with SDSU, he flew more than 150 hours in a C-45J, which is a military version of a Beechcraft Model 18, commonly known as a "Twin Beech." That twin Beech was equipped with reconnaissance cameras, and he flew it as part of a research program doing remote sensing. In 2002, Rob started flying a RV-4, an airplane that he constructed. This airplane is one he enjoyed flying during his retirement years. Because Rob enjoyed flying so much, he could not resist not teaching his wife Judy to fly. Judy has been a helpful personal first officer and assisted in building two airplanes, the RV-4 and RV-8. Congratulations Robbie on receiving this very prestigious award, which funded by Robbie's friends. Letters of nomination were written by Dennis Martens (Vermillion), Harrison Thompson (Brookings), and Brady Klocker (Volga).

Vernon VanDerhule

Vernon 'Skip' C. VanDerhule - Yankton

(September 2019)

On May 12, 1968, Skip VanDerhule conducted his first solo in Yankton, SD. That solo flight in a Cessna 172 is what began a 50-year journey into aviation. Shortly after soloing, Skip and Jim Cox bought a Mooney, N6737N. It was several years later on September 28, 1974, he married Judy. Over the years, Skip has been a valuable asset to many organizations and promoted aviation safety. He was instrumental with being a member on the South Dakota Aeronautics Commission for 13 years, and three of those years he was the chairperson. While on that commission, he advocated for improvements in airport infrastructure, lighting, and pavement planning. He enjoyed bringing people together and facilitating communications between South Dakota leaders and officials in Washington, D.C. to help secure FAA funding for several airports. Skip continues to be active with the Yankton Regional Aviation Association and always found time to encourage younger generation pilots with joining the Young Eagles. He has flown more than 100 Young Eagle flights and continues to be a valuable mentor. Skip embraces new technology and spends time staying current. Over the years, he has landed at many interesting airports, such as Meigs Field in Chicago, and Sky Harbor in Arizona. One of the most memorable experiences was flying in the Ford Tri-Motor. Skip enjoys having an instrument rating and acquired over 1050 hours of flight time. It's been a great 50 years of aviation experience. Little did he know that many years into the future he would be honored today with receiving the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. Congratulations Jim on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the SDPA. Letters of nomination were written by John Lillevold (Yankton), Jacob Hoffner (Yankton), and James Cox (Yankton).

Jess T. Bauer

Jess T. Bauer - Revillo

(September 2021)

On June 20, 1969, Jess T. Bauer soloed a Cessna 150 in Galion, Ohio, and received his private pilot certificate on September 5, 1970. Jess received his instrument rating on March 20, 1977, earned his commercial pilot certificate on June 3, 1977, and received his multiengine rating on September 1, 1978. He received his airline transport pilot certificate on June 26th, 1986. Currently, Jess holds multiple type ratings in the BA-3100, SD-3, Beech-1900, DHC-8, Boeing 737, and EMB-505. In 1984, Jess began working for Columbia Aviation. He has also flown for P&A Air, Pocono Airlines, Presidential Airways, Mesaba Airlines, Jet Airways, Fiji Airways, and PlaneSense. Currently Jess is flying with Nicholas Air. Over the years, Jess has been an inspiration to so many people. He is respected and has truly earned his wings of encouragement to so many fellow aviators. Some of the most recognized traits are his honesty and integrity. Jess has traveled to many places around the world, such as Saudia Arabia and Mumbai, India. Over the years, his devotion to aviation has gained him valuable experience. With over thousands of flight time hours and zero red flags, his wife Valerie “Val” Bauer has been a stable anchor of support. What a great journey it has been for Jess. On Behalf of the FAA Administrator, and with the gracious support from the South Dakota Pilots Association, it is a great honor to present this Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Jess Thomas Bauer. Congratulations Jess on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the SDPA.

Christopher A. Lang

Christopher A. Lang - Rapid City

(October 2021)

In July 1964 Christopher A. Lang started as a line service man at Harris Hill Glider Port near Elmira, NY. He earned his student pilot certificate in August. On July 6, 1966, Chris soled in a SGU 2-22C Schweizer at Harris Hill Glider Port. Chris graduated high school in 1966 in Washington DC, and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management from Metropolitan State College in 1975. In 1969 he received a commercial pilot certificate. During 1970 and 1971, Chris worked as a tow-pilot with the Soaring Society of Boulder. In 1971, he obtained his instrument rating. Chris worked as a missionary pilot in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, from June 1971 until August 1974. After returning to the U.S., he was a tow-pilot with Boulder Valley Aviation and obtained his multi-engine rating. In 1976, Chris worked at Waverly West, near Fort Collins as a glider instructor and tow-pilot. In March 1977, he worked as a bush pilot for Peninsula Airways in King Salmon, Alaska. In 1981, Chris moved to Casper, WY, to fly as a copilot on a Learjet and captain on various turbo-prop aircraft, and served as a chief pilot and director of operations. He also obtained a certified flight instructor and instrument flight instructor certificates. From 1993 to 1996, he resumed bush-pilot flying as a chief pilot and medivac pilot for 40-Mile Air in Tok, Fairbanks, and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Chris returned to Peninsula Airways and flew as a Part 135 line captain and as a check airman. Chris joined the FAA in Fairbanks, Alaska, and transferred Denver, CO, as a Principle Operations Inspector with the FSDO for ten years, then to the Spokane FSDO. As an FSIRP inspector, Chris traveled to various FSDOs, and transferred to the Rapid City FSDO. Congratulations Chris on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the FAA. Three letters of nomination were from David R. Hartson (Spokane, WA), Martin B. Larson (Rapid City, SD), and Alan P. Christianson (Spearfish, SD).

Raymond N. Thomas

Raymond N. Thomas – Springfield

(October 2021)

It was on September 6, 1969 when Ray Thomas experienced the freedom of flight on his own by soloing in a Cessna 140 (N2028N). However, it was several years earlier that Ray truly experienced his initial flying skills with his cousin George Thomas in a J-3 Cub taking off and landing in his dad’s pasture. Ray first began his flight instruction in a small Cessna on July 26, 1968 at Dodge Field north of Des Moines, IA. Ray can still remember sitting in the dentist chair hearing words of inspiration and encouragement from his dentist, Ted Lindeman (Dr. Ted). After another trip to the dentist Dr. Ted, Ray took several more airplane rides in Garret Heusinkveld’s Ercoupe. A week later, Ray’s dad co-signed the $2,300.00 loan he needed to purchase a Cessna 140. Dr. Ted instructed Ray how to fly and with ten hours of dual flight instruction, Ray soloed. Ray continued to receive flight instruction from Benny Hahn and Lowell Weir. On June 29, 1970, Ray was issued his private pilot certificate. Ray sold his Cessna 140 before getting married. After spending three years in Denver, Ray and Patricia moved to Vermillion, SD, where Patricia attended college at the University of South Dakota. Together they purchased a Luscombe 8A. After Patricia completed her college degree, they moved back to Denver, CO, and purchased a Cessna 172. Together they often flew from Denver to Springfield, SD. They later sold that aircraft and purchased a farm in South Dakota. Ray inspired several family members to fly, including his wife Patricia who received her pilot certificate, and their sons Dana, Brian, and Corey who all three hold airframe and power-plant (A&P) certificates with inspector authorizations (IAs). Currently Ray and Patricia own a Cessna 182 and continue to enjoy making aviation memories. Congratulations Ray on receiving this very prestigious award, which was funded by the SDPA. Letters of nomination were written by Dana Thomas (Rocklin, CA), Brian Thomas (Lincoln, NE), and Corey Thomas (Parker, CO).

NAFI Master Instructor Award

(National Association of Flight Instructors)


The Master Instructor designation is a national accreditation that may be earned by aviation educators and is based on a system of advanced professional standards as well as peer review. The designation identifies and publicly recognizes those 'Teachers of Flight' who are demonstrating an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community, and it sets professional standards to which all aviation educators can aspire. The minimum requirements are: be a NAFI member in good standing, maintain NAFI membership during term of designation, subscribe to and abide by the NAFI Code of Ethics, have held for a minimum of 24 calendar months either a valid FAA/ICAO flight instructor certificate or ground instructor certificate or industry flight instructor certificate, and document activities as an educator, service to community, creator of media, and participant in education activities (there is a long list of category activities for each of the major categories). The documented activities are reviewed by the NAFI Board of Review, assigned continuing education units (CEUs), and undergo an evaluation process.