Former AOPA Northwest Regional Representative Ray Costello was inducted into the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor in McMinnville, Oregon, last weekend for his contributions to aviation in the state. Costello represented AOPA for 16 years in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska, and continues to serve as a contact for current Northwest Regional Representative Mike Ferguson.
"Ray has been a longstanding general aviation advocate who has tirelessly served GA pilots in the Northwest," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "With his 64 years of involvement in military and civilian aviation, I cannot think of a better aviator to be honored than Ray."
As AOPA's Northwest regional representative, Costello worked closely with each state's aeronautics division, the FAA, and aviation organizations.
In an August 1995 AOPA Pilot article, Costello said, "One of my major interests now is in establishing aviation alliances in all of my states. This has come about from the recognition that we're all in this together. At the local and state levels, the issues are completely different than at the national level."
Costello's background in the U.S. Air Force, Oregon Division of Aeronautics, and airport and FBO management gave him a unique perspective of the aviation industry and made him the perfect person to build such alliances.
During his time with the association, he influenced the creation of the independent Department of Aeronautics in Oregon. In 2001, Boyer presented Costello with a special Distinguished Service Award for his "outstanding commitment to excellence in public service."
Costello's aviation career started out with the military. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years and became an Air Force command pilot with about 5,000 hours in more than 30 aircraft. He served in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.
After leaving the military, Costello worked for the Oregon Division of Aeronautics for 14 years as the director of planning. He helped convince the FAA to fund the Oregon system plan concept for general aviation and was a leader in the creation of Oregon's commuter air study and the continuous aviation system plan. After establishing these plans at the state level, Costello worked to help communities in the state improve their own aviation plans.
Costello has a commercial pilot certificate and single- and multiengine-land, instrument, seaplane, and helicopter ratings, and has racked up more than 10,000 hours in about 60 different aircraft. He owns a homebuilt Murphy Rebel floatplane based at Independence State Airport in Independence, Oregon.
Four other aviators also will be honored with Costello at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, in McMinnville, home to the Hall of Honor that was created in 2003 by the Oregon State Department of Transportation.
Updated: October 24, 2005, 11:31 a.m. EDT