Eleven pilots, one of whom also is a master mechanic, were honored by the FAA at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo April 4 in Lakeland, Fla., for their contributions to safe flight operations for 50 or more years. The Wright Brothers Master Pilot and Charles Taylor Master Mechanic awards are given to pilots and mechanics who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise. They also are the pilots and mechanics who have brought the aviation industry forward for the enjoyment and benefit of their generation as well future generations of men and women.
The master pilot recipients who were in attendance at Sun 'n Fun to receive the awards were former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, Women Airforce Service Pilot Bernice Haydu, William Bauer, Jerry Farquar, Craig Harden, Sun 'n Fun founding director Billy Henderson, William McKee Jr., David Nielsen, John Murphy, Roger Shepherd, and Claude Pratt, who was also honored as a master mechanic. The FAA's website also listed Women Airforce Service Pilot Rose "Penny" Ross as receiving the master pilot award.
“Our paths in aviation are widely varied, as pilots and mechanics. But we all share a passion for aviation and making sure things are safe and airworthy,” said Bob Locke, the master of ceremonies, himself a master pilot and mechanic. “These awards recognize those who have been a safe pilot or mechanic for at least 50 years. We're all the descendants of the Wright brothers and mechanics are descendants of Charles Taylor.”
To be eligible for the awards, nominees must be U.S. citizens with 50 years of experience, a clean record, and three letters of recommendation. The awards were presented by Deputy FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker. The winners received plaques signed by the FAA administrator. They also received a copy of their FAA records and will have their name on the roll of honor at FAA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.