If there are two things Roger Cannell knows a few things about, it’s flying and aviation insurance.
If there are two things Roger Cannell knows a few things about, it’s flying and aviation insurance. First the flying: Cannell has been a pilot for more than 50 years. His interest evolved from seeing an airplane occasionally while growing up in Central Illinois to being fascinated by the B-25s that flew over his high school during World War II to attending college as an Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) student and being given his first helicopter ride at Quantico, Va.
“That day, we were being flown to the destination of our long routine hike,” Cannell recalls. “I noticed the pilots were sitting in the front drinking coffee and I realized I’d rather be them.” He put his name on a list for flight training and, in 1957, was sent to Pensacola to learn to fly and earn his Navy wings. He went on to serve with the Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot.
After active duty, he joined the Marine Reserves (Naval Air Station Glenview) and worked as an aviation insurance underwriter, using an H35 Model Bonanza to cover his sales territory out of his Chicago base to Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota. Incidentally, that 1956 H35 is now a part of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, Tenn.
Cannell married his wife, Mary Jean, and changed careers, becoming a CPA, a career that spanned 45 plus years. During this period Cannell bought his first of four aircraft, including three Beech Bonanzas, one of which he owned for 34 years. One day, Cannell started thinking about being retired, not flying as much, and the costs associated with an airplane, and he shared these thoughts with the son of a former aircraft partner friend who later called him saying he wanted to buy Cannell’s Bonanza. In a moment he later regretted, he sold the Bonanza. It was the first time in decades he didn’t own an airplane.
“I spent three or four weeks crying,” he joked. “Then I went out and bought another Bonanza.” He currently is flying about 50 hours a year. His years of flying have included service with LifeLine Pilots and making many trips for kids to Shriners Hospitals. His long flying career earned him the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Flight Award. This award is given to pilots who have been actively flying for 50 years without a violation or accident. “I got a plaque and a pin,” Cannell said. “My name, along with some 2,000 other aviators, is etched into one of the walls at the FAA building in Washington, D.C., but I haven’t seen that yet. To be alongside pilots like Neil Armstrong is abundantly humbling.”
Now retired from his CPA career, Cannell lives in Hot Springs Village, Ark., a 26,000-acre gated community. With his experience in flying and aviation insurance, it’s no surprise Cannell relies on AOPA Insurance Services. “I have worked with Carol Thompson there for several years,” Cannell says. “We enjoy talking about airplanes and it’s nice to have a contact where we can exchange information and build a relationship. I appreciate her.”
AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating 20 years of serving the aviation insurance needs of our customers. Visit us at www.aopainsurance.org or call 800/622-2672 for loads of information on how AOPA can get you the best deal on aviation and life insurance.