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Arizona State Liaison, Mark Spencer
Mark has lived in Arizona since 1974 and has had a long career in the Aerospace industry beginning with Sperry Flight Systems in the early 80’s. From Sperry he moved on to W.L. Gore & Associates where he was involved in microwave coaxial interconnect designs used in avionics, radar and medical devices. If you had asked Mark at age 12 what he wanted to be when he grew up he would have said “an inventor!” He is named as “Inventor” or “Co-Inventor” on 13 U.S. and European Patents so it looks like he fulfilled this dream pretty well. Mark has always been an entrepreneur owning several businesses on the side of his engineering career including an auto-body shop, photography and a small skiing and rafting tour business. In 2000 Mark ventured out completely on his own with his current business, an engineering consulting and manufacturing representative business in RF Microwave, where he is still involved heavily in the aerospace industry in Arizona and New Mexico.
Mark and his wife Stefanie are both private pilots currently living in the backcountry of southeastern Arizona near an old ghost town called Pearce. Mark and Sefanie have four grown children.
With the purchase of their Cub Crafter’s Top Cub, Mark got very excited about backcountry flying and jumped in with both feet and spearheaded the effort to add aviation to Arizona’s recreational use statute.
Contact information: Phone number: 520-826-2112
Arkansas State Liaison, David "Dave" Myrick
Dave has had an interest in aviation and flying since childhood but didn’t start lessons until he became a flight medic in the Air Force in 1969. Being on a flight crew and various temporary duties forced him to put his training on hold, however. He started flying again in the late 80’s, but again had to stop because of the bigger priority of growing a custom woodworking business. In the early 90’s, he sold that business and started managing the family tree farming interests and working as a glassblowing artist.
After selling his business recently, he joined a flying club and finally completed his private certificate. At this same time he discovered an LSA kit manufacturer just a little more than an hour from his house and was immediately hooked on building an LSA bush plane. He has been an avid outdoorsman since his early years in the Boy Scouts and has hiked, camped, and fished all over the mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, working as a ski patroller, and occasionally as a fishing guide on the local trout streams, has reinforced his respect for nature and the desire to help preserve these areas for the next generations.
Almost three years ago he discovered and joined The Recreational Aviation Foundation and started to help the organization.
In the process of the decision to build the “Just Aircraft” Highlander, he found a great hangar/home in a small family airpark in northwest Arkansas and sold his property in North Carolina. He moved to Arkansas, thinking he would be apt to work more on the plane if all he had to do was walk out the kitchen door to get to work. Being centrally located in the United States would also give him better opportunity; “To make long cross-country trips to very remote places.”
Arkansas turned out to be a much better move than he could have imagined and he started to think maybe it was time to do more than just write checks to The RAF. He got in touch with the organization to find who was the Arkansas liaison, thinking he would like to physically help and once again be a “worker bee.” When he found that Arkansas didn’t have a RAF liaison, the first thought that popped into his head was a statement he had previously read about the history of the RAF: “If not now, when; if not us, who? “
Today, Dave is building his Highlander and helping the other airpark neighbors with maintaining and improving the airpark. He spends considerable time mowing the 2,600-foot Bermuda grass runway. As RAF Arkansas Liaison, he has great visions how the RAF can help improve recreational aviation in what is now his home state and looks forward to bringing those visions to reality. Long hours on the tractor will do that.
Contact Information: Phone number: 479-222-8484
California State Liaison, Chris Berge
Chris Berge was raised in Santa Cruz, CA, for 13 years until his family moved to the San Francisco bay area, where he has resided ever since. Currently, he and his partner, Ruth Bley, own an electrical construction company performing work on bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure projects. Chris is the father of two daughters who are currently in school.
Always wanting to fly, he was finally able to pursue flying in 2001. After approximately 200 hours, he attended a mountain canyon flying course in McCall, ID. Since then, it has been Cessna 180 flying in Idaho and Utah. Chris' goal is to preserve and try to expand the back country experience so others may enjoy it as well.
California State Liaison, Richard "Rick" Lach
Richard “Rick” Lach, from Kernville, CA, has had a passion for aviation from an early age. He can recall riding his bike to Van Nuys Airport, where he would sit on the railroad tracks and watch planes land. After joining the Air Force he spent four years maintaining F-100, F-101, and F-105 in the Far East. In 1998 he decided that his high-end Computer Communication business wasn’t for him anymore, and sold out to buy a Lodge in Alaska. Amongst the wilderness his new venture had a bar, restaurant, rooms, cabins and a 200 foot landing strip. All this cozied up adjacent to Wrangle St.-Ellis National Park, in the village of Chistochina. Unfortunately it burned to the ground two years later, at which point Rick, with his wife Holly, came back to California and the Kern River Valley. Rick then decided that he would get serious about aviation. He started Raven Aviation and acquired an STC to convert Piper PA-22s back to taildraggers. He then acquired his FAA/PMA approval to manufacture components for himself and other STC holders in Alaska. He is also a Certified Light Sport Repairman and a Rotax technician. His passions soon were centered on backcountry flying and smaller airports. Then the ultimate opportunity came his way. The small mountain airport in Kern River Valley where he lived needed a new Airport Manager. He jumped at the chance, and now the BIG KID runs the candy shop, as he would say, taking full advantage of the high mountains, flowing rivers and lakes, desert scapes, and great weather. With nothing but toys to work on and fly, he’s in heaven. So when you stop by the airport or call, be prepared to talk backcountry flying or working to open old and new airstrips in California.
Contact information: Phone number: 661-345-7755
Southern California State Liaison and Webmaster, John Kounis
As editor-in-chief of Pilot Getaways magazine, John Kounis criss-crosses the country in his Cessna 185 researching fun destinations, but prefers the backcountry for fun. Before starting the magazine, he spent eight years in Germany, where he flew his Cessna 172RG more than 1,200 hours in over 40 countries—as far north as Spitzbergen about 800 nm north of the Arctic Circle and as far south as Cape Town, South Africa. A pilot since 1981, John has seen many of his favorite California backcountry airstrips like Coyote Flats and Tunnel Meadow in the Sierra Nevada disappear, which motivated him to do his part by volunteering for the RAF.
Colorado State Liaison, Tom Haefeli
Tom was intrigued with flying from the very beginning as a child, in a family whose business was beekeeping in southern Colorado
“I worked in the business through high school then – being a typical teen – I couldn't wait to get out into the world,” Tom says.
He earned his first flight ratings at a small college in northwestern Colorado. His first flying job came along in 1986 as a flight instructor in central California. Tom recalls his best job was an air tour and charter pilot for ten years in Page AZ, the last four years as Chief Pilot. Trips often put him in and out of small dirt strips around Page and the Grand Canyon. Flying De Havilland Twin Otters, it’s easy to see why this kind of flying became Tom’s favorite.
He met Laura, “the love of my life,” in Page. They started a family and decided flying airplanes and raising kids weren't the best mix. They moved back to Colorado in 1996 to help with the family bee business.
But three years later, aviation called him to serve again. The bee business was in decline, so Tom took a First Officer job on a Boeing 737 with Frontier Airlines . He says it was to supplement their living, but it also satisfied his longing to be back in the skies.
After the September 11 tragedy, he quit flying for the airline to raise kids and bees.
“Besides the family, my biggest passion is backcountry flying and camping,” Tom says. He keeps his instructor ratings current and conducts flight reviews and tailwheel checkouts.
“It has been wonderful to be able to teach the boys, John and Luke, to fly. Emilee is next . . . as soon as she can reach the pedals!”
The next time you see Tom, he’ll be wearing the signature RAF orange shirt. He may have either a pulaski in his hands, or a tablet computer signing up new RAF friends!
Contact information: Phone number: 719-850-1411
Colorado State Liaison, Patrick Romano
Patrick Romano always knew he wanted to fly. So it was not a surprise to anyone when he took his first lesson at age 14 and started instructing by the time he was 18. After a decade of flying everything from helicopters to business jets, he had to get a real job. He is now operating several Domino’s Pizzas in the Denver area. Patrick and his girlfriend enjoy flying all over the backcountry in their planes. He is still an active instructor and in his spare time is the dealer for CubCrafters and consults on all things backcountry related with his company Backcountry Aviation LLC.
Contact information: Phone number: 512-289-1989
Florida State Liaison, Jack Tyler
Lots of you probably know Tim Clifford, which tells you about the big shoes Jack has set his sights on filling. Jack, Patricia and son Devin all caught the flying bug in the late 80’s and each got their licenses in the ‘Family RV’ – a ’75 Grumman Traveler. As the 90’s ended, they all took to the water; although for Dev it meant leaving Navy ships and Air Stations to get airborne (which he does to this day). Jack & Patricia took off in a sailboat to see the world, which they did for 11 years and 53 countries. No sooner was the boat sold in Australia than they went scurrying back to aviation and a Grumman Tiger. As many RAF members will know, the boating community can be a very tight and friendly one…which they knew they had found once again the instant they visited the RAF booth at Sun ‘n Fun. Jack recently left another 501.c organization after serving as a Board member and President, and it too had a geographically diverse membership but a joint kindred soul. He’s hoping to draw from that experience as he begins to work with RAF and its Florida members. There’s no question that Florida has almost everything (sans mountains) that makes back country flying a very special experience: rivers, forests, gobs of airports near grocery stores, and especially gorgeous winter weather. All that’s needed are more very special destinations, so it’s time to roll up our sleeves.......
Contact information: Phone number: 904-300-3416
Georgia State Liaison, Eric Davis
Eric was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia far removed from the allure of backcountry flying. His first impressions of aviation were limited to the science fiction television shows and movies of the day: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. As kids, he and his friends would sneak into the Hartsfield Airport terminal and pretend they were travelers going to faraway places.
Childhood dreams of flying gave way to the normal “stuff” of growing up. Then one day in 2003 Eric recalled his early desire to fly. Within a few months he had earned his private pilot certificate, and began flying rentalC172s and PA28s.
In 2011 he started looking for the right partner, at the right airport, with the right plane and hit the jackpot. Today he’s the proud owner of a freshly restored 1964 S35 (V-tail) Bonanza with a great partner based at an airport close to home.
For Eric the utility of flying has created the potential to be in many places within a short space of time. He regularly uses his aircraft for business, personal, and charitable trips. He is an Engineer employed by a leading telecommunications equipment manufacturer and uses his plane to pay periodic visits to customers in markets not well served by the commercial aviation industry.
He and his wife Maureen make regular trips between Atlanta and Springdale, Pennsylvania (Maureen’s hometown), landing at a small airport just six miles from the family home. On each trip, weather permitting,they are constantly scouting the terrain looking for airstrips close to areas of recreational interest.
Ever conscious of his good fortune Eric likes to give back by volunteering for Angel Flight, providing free air transport to patients in need of far away medical services.
Long-time outdoor enthusiasts, Eric and Maureen enjoying cycling, hiking, and camping. They have bicycled unsupported through the Pacific Northwest, Central and Southern Colorado, Yellowstone National Forest, as well as several cross-country trips in Europe including northern Spain, Southern Italy, and Southern France.
“Having recently acquired my own aircraft, I now wish to pursue an alternate means of experiencing our country’s natural resources and would like to be of service to the RAF in promoting the goal of ‘preserving,maintaining and creating public use recreational and backcountry airstrips.’”
Contact information: Phone number: 404-423-3842
Idaho State Liaison, Mike Hart
Mike Hart is a nerdy pilot from Idaho and co-host of the Pilot’s Journey Podcast (www.pilotsjourney.com). He received his private pilot’s license when he was 18 and flew most of his early years off a short 1,800-foot grass strip near Paola, Kansas. Mike moved to Idaho more than 20 years ago and reacquainted himself with flying, adding Commercial and IFR ratings to his list of aviation experiences.
As a pilot in Idaho, he couldn’t help but getting acquainted with backcountry flying and soon was hooked. When trips took him to various parts of Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, California and Washington, he would sample a few backcountry strips in his old 182. He joined the RAF after hearing about the organization’s work to keep one of his favorites open — the Chicken Strip in Saline Valley, California.
When issues arose with his local airport’s master plan, he helped get parties together to find constructive solutions. He was later elected to the board of the Idaho Aviation Association representing his part of the state and helping organize the Trade Show Aviation Idaho in Idaho Falls.
Mike has a master’s degree in environmental science, with an emphasis in policy and law. He owns a small communication firm and recently started a business for aerial photography, thermography and videography. He flies a Turbo 206 aerial photo plane for business and a 1945 J-3 Cub for fun.
Contact information: Phone number: 208-528-7672
Idaho State Liaison, Joe Grubiak
Joe’s passion for aviation began early in life as the son & grandson of Air Force Fighter Pilots.
His earliest memories involved voracious reading of anything aviation related and overtime he became fascinated by the adventures of bush pilots, a natural progression given his interest in the outdoors. As a dedicated outdoorsman and former fly fishing guide, Joe has had the privilege of fishing in many different places throughout the world. Travels to New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia & Alberta, Russia, Argentina, Belize and Mexico exposed him to the practical application of STOL wheeled & amphibious aviation. Perhaps most importantly, his travels created an understanding of how uniquely special our freedom to fly is in the United States.
Joe holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, a instrument rating single engine land and is the proud owner of a 1961 C-185 which he flies extensively throughout the US and Canadian Rockies.
Contact Information: Phone number: 208-514-9258
Indiana State Liaison, Kris Barnett
The seed that sprouted Kris Barnett’s passion for aviation began in his youth, when he would listen to his Papa tell stories about flying and attend air shows with his Dad and Papa. His interest in flying quickly blossomed into a dream of becoming a pilot.
In college, Kris started a successful Erosion Control company and tried to find fulfillment working with his dad building recording studios, while flying only for recreation. This did not fulfill his desire to fly, however, so Kris gave up everything and sold his company to pursue his true passion of aviation.
Kris has obtained his single- and multi-engine commercial ratings, CFI, CFII, and AGI. He is currently a contract pilot for two aircraft owned by companies based in Indianapolis. He continues to flight instruct between his other flight obligations. Kris genuinely loves all aspects of aviation and being a pilot.
General aviation has taken Kris to the four corners of the United States and the beautiful islands of the Caribbean. He feels blessed to have had the opportunities to experience the diverse beauty of the land this country encompasses. All of these experiences have further deepened his love and desire to maintain General Aviation freedoms for his two sons and future generations.
On one particular trip to gain mountain flying experience with his instructor, Kris chose to fly into airports where they could camp. It was this connection with nature and the purity of flying that led him to pursue similar recreational flying possibilities in his own state of Indiana. Through extensive research, Kris found the RAF and quickly gained respect and appreciation for its mission. A chance meeting with RAF President John McKenna at Sun 'n Fun 2012 solidified his desire to support and represent the foundation in Indiana. He is extremely honored and excited to represent the state of Indiana on behalf of the RAF.
Contact information: Phone number: 765-409-2698
Maine State Liaison, Andy Rowe
I may be the slowest learner in aviation history as I first soloed in 1963, but did not get my private license until last summer....2010! I followed up with a seaplane rating a month or so later and am presently working on an instrument rating. I’ve owned 2 aircraft, a Champ (in 1963) which my Dad sold while I was interrupting my college years with a visit to Paris Island and Camp Lejeune, and the 180hp Skyhawk on straight PK’s that I own today. Between then and now I managed to get a degree in Art History, shoot almost 1000 TV shows accumulating more frequent flyer miles than the average airline crew, and pick up a USCG Master’s license, sailing the Atlantic from Cape Town to Spitzbergen....all of which interfered with my quest for a private license. At least, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!
I’m a lifelong outdoors nut whether it be hunting, fishing, sailing, diving, climbing, ice boating or wind surfing. I am amazed that the RAF has accomplished so much in such a short time. Now that I’ve gotten to know a bit about the organization, I’m not surprised and hope that we can add many Maine airstrips to the RAF’s success story.
I’ll have a lot of help here as my instructors, mentors and friends comprise the cream of the crop of Maine’s bush pilots and I’m looking forward to getting to work. My Dad would be proud that at the age of 69, I finally have a real job.
Contact information: Phone number: 207-837-9155
Maryland State Liaison, Craig McCullough
A private pilot since 2003, Craig McCullough received his instrument rating in 2005 and has since flown his Cessna 172 up and down the eastern seaboard to airstrips in Philadelphia, Williamsburg, Charleston, Savannah, Key West and many points in-between. Craig works for Hewlett-Packard managing sales teams that support civilian and intelligence agencies within the federal government. Weekends, Craig can often be found flying with his wife and two daughters to small seaside airports like Cape May, New Jersey, or beautiful little spots in the country like Fallston, Maryland or the Corry-Lawrence airstrip near Lake Erie. The threatened disappearance of a few small airstrips and the closure of one of Craig’s favorite local airports, Baltimore Airpark, brought him to the RAF.
Contact information: Phone number: 410-241-3475
Michigan State Liaison, Brad Frederick
Brad Frederick is a native of Michigan and continues to reside in Ada, Michigan with his wife of 39 years “Diz”. He grew up on a family farm outside Ann Arbor. They have three children, and enjoy getting up into the air. Brad’s son Ed taught him to fly when he was 55, and he has said it remains one of the absolute highlights of his life.
To get more involved, Brad started and operates S.H.C.A.H.A. a 501[c] 3 Nonprofitt Corporation, which holds Prickett Grooms Airfield, a public use, albeit remote field. He also operates a Local Museum in Sidnaw Michigan.
Brad works at Kem-tron Inc., a Manufacturers Rep. Firm and Distributor for the Electronics Assembly Industry. He started the company 23 years ago, and he still has fun most every day.
Brad loves to build and develop. He has built houses, cabins, and airfields, and hopes to someday build an airplane. He enjoys fishing, both fresh and saltwater, hunting, snowmobiling, ATV’s, and motorcycles, both on and off road. He’s also an avid boater, and camper, enjoying a campfire with friends whenever he can.
His plans for the future involve finding new challenges, as well as continue promoting aviation, and making more friends on his quest of “Fly till I die.” (Safely of course)
Contact information: Phone number: 248 761 5615
Minnesota State Liaison, Kirk Hiner
Kirk Hiner, who lives in Kenyon, MN, grew up in an aviation family thanks to his dad who flew B24s out of England during World War II and then continued to fly after the war. Kirk received his private pilot license in 1976, and his commercial, instrument and CFI ratings in the 80s. Over the years as lifelong EAA members, Kirk and his dad have built 5 kitplanes together (three of which they still own) and Kirk continues to give flight instruction from time to time. Along with being a small business owner, he and his wife have three children, so having extra time on his hands is not one of his biggest problems. Despite that, he still finds time for two of his biggest interests, flying and the outdoors (fishing and hunting). When Kirk found out about the RAF mission, he wanted to get involved because he witnessed firsthand the closing of the airport where his family cabin is located. As the Minnesota liaison Kirk looks forward to helping the RAF’s mission to protect these remote airstrips from closure.
Contact information: Phone number: 612-619-0436
Montana State Liaison, Jon Hudson
Jon Hudson was born in Oregon, but would have chosen Montana if he’d had any influence! From a very (very!) early age, Jon was fascinated by airplanes and race cars. Eventually this fascination became a dream, then a plan, and finally reality.
Upon receiving his Master’s degree in geology from Oregon State University, Jon moved to Denver to start a career in oil and gas exploration. He “discovered” Montana through his field work, and he and his wife Berkley moved to Billings for several years, enjoying the people and country that is Montana. Unfortunately, an economic downturn forced a change in careers, an unexpected move to Arizona, and a postponement of dreams. However, while living in Phoenix and working in the environmental consulting field, Jon bought an older Formula Ford race car. For eight years, he repaired, rebuilt and raced this car, earning a Regional Championship and a National Competition License through the Sports Car Club of America. One dream realized!
When the opportunity to return to Montana presented itself, Jon and Berkley were quick to make the move. Berkley started her own financial planning business and Jon worked for four years at Montana State University Extension Service, providing environmental regulatory guidance for small businesses. The race car was sold to purchase an interest in a very old Cessna 172 and flying lessons. Another dream realized!
Once introduced to backcountry flying, Jon and Berkley purchased their Aviat Husky and have enjoyed flying it to airstrips throughout Montana, Idaho, and neighboring states.
Jon has served the aviation community through his dedication to Montana Pilots Association, serving in a variety of offices, including two years as president. As an RAF volunteer, Jon helped build the pilot shelter at Gallatin Field, has staffed the Sun-N-Fun booth, volunteered for backcountry airstrip work parties, barbecued steaks, and served as apparel “consultant” for the fetching RAF logo-wear.
Achieving Jon’s dreams required focus and perseverance. The Recreational Aviation Foundation has the same determination: focus on the issues that really matter to recreational flyers; and the perseverance to keep our message relevant and directed to preserve these amazing opportunities for generations to come.
Contact information: Phone number: 406-539-0578
Montana State Liaison, Ron Normandeau
It’s not often a volunteer shows up for an RAF project with a passion for flying the backcountry and a career of cartography behind him. Ronald Normandeau was raised in Polson, Montana, attended the University of Montana, spent 22 years with the U.S. Geological Survey and retired from the U.S. Forest Service after a career as a Cartographer/Photogrammetrist. Ron earned his pilots’ license in 1964 and proceeded to “use every method known to man to find ways to fly and finance flying,” he says. He is currently restoring a 1947 Aeronca Chief and flying a friend’s Taylorcraft.
Ron and his wife Kathy have retired in Polson.
In his 22 years with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Ron participated in the major transition from constructing maps manually to using digital methods. The result is what you see in your GPS systems with moving maps that encompass the complete U.S.
Ron’s twelve years with the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula have enabled him to bring other valuable experience to the RAF, and a good rapport with the USFS.
Ron maintained a parallel career as a reserve officer in the Corps of Engineers in the military occupational specialty (MOS) of Topographic Engineer (21D). This career encompassed service in: 19th Special Forces (ABN), 30th Engineers, 1st Maneuver Training Command, and Commander, 379th Engineer Battalion.
When the State Liaison position was developed by the RAF, Ron– with his willingness and experience – was a great fit for the task in Montana.
Contact information: Phone number: 406-883-3826
Nevada State Liaison, Shane Gorman
Shane and his wife Sue moved to Reno after retiring to Lake Tahoe for five years. They keep their Citabria hangared at nearby Truckee, CA. Shane has been busy leading RAF efforts in Nevada now that his is retired from a technology company in Silicon Valley.
They have a daughter, 29, who lives in the Bay area and teaches special ed and a son, 24, enrolled in an MBA program. Sue is involved in charitable work in Reno and also teaches botanical art part time.
Shane enjoys flying in all the western states but particularly Utah, Idaho and Montana. “I am essentially retired and keep busy as an active CFI for primary students and then contribute time to non-profits when possible,” Shane said.
Contact information: Phone number: 775-772-6343
New Hampshire State Liaison, John Zanchi
John’s passion for protecting airstrips was kindled in 1998 when he responded to an ad in the Atlantic Flyer seeking aviators interested in reestablishing a former unimproved private airfield not too far away in neighboring Maine. This led to a friendship with John Nadeau (RAF liaison for New England). John Zanchi had obtained his pilot certificate in 1981 while working in NYC not long after his first General Aviation cross-county flight in a Cessna 182.
His most fun times have been exploring New England and the Adirondacks of NY on straight floats; enjoying the three-dimensional challenge of aerobatics; and giving scenic rides off the ice runway on Lake Winnipesaukee in Alton Bay, NH.
Contact information: Phone number: 603-569-5582
New Mexico State Liaison, Larry Filener
Larry Filener has had a life-long passion for aviation. He began flying at age 16 and has been enjoying flying and backcountry flying every since. Larry currently owns a 1959 Cessna 180 and, along with his family, flies to the backcountry as often as possible. For the last two years, Larry has been involved with the RAF and the New Mexico Pilot’s Association (NMPA). He is Chairman of the New Mexico Recreation Aviation Committee of the NMPA and has headed up their efforts to reopen several backcountry and recreational airstrips.
Larry is a CPA and has owned his own firm for the last twenty years. He specializes in the practice of Real Estate and Construction accounting.
Larry has been married to his wife Holly for over thirty years and they truly love living in New Mexico. Holly and Larry live in Los Lunas at the MidValley Airpark (E98). In addition to his wife Holly, he has four children, (1 girl and 3 boys), ages 11 through 20.
New Mexico has a number of great backcountry destinations, and with the help of the RAF and NMPA, he is excited about the possibility of adding new destinations to that inventory. He looks forward to meeting all RAF members in New Mexico!
Contact information: Phone number: 505-239-2835
New York State Liaison, Russell "Russ" Holland
Russ didn't start flying until 50, with a gift from his wife Sue of an introductory lesson. Her comment "You've always wanted to fly ... and you're not getting any younger, you know" was answered with the warning "I might like it, you know!" He set about making up for lost time, pursuing private, commercial, instrument and then last year his CFI. He shared a Cessna 175 with a friend for several years, using it to explore and photograph in upstate New York and the Adirondack Mountains in particular, as well as for work flights to Boston, DC, and New Orleans and family flights to Ontario and New Brunswick. Along the way, his tailwheel endorsement and single engine sea rating provided him the most fun flying he's had to date, and although 7667M got him in and out of a lot of places, his 'low and slow' interests led to the desire for a more capable back country plane. He is currently finishing his Rans S-7S with plans to have it eventually live part of the year on amphibs. Russ is a member of Galaxy Aviation, the Upstate Flying Club, the Oneida County Aviation Association, EAA, AOPA and SAFE.
His 'day job' for the last 30+ years has been in special education and developing and advocating for assistive technology solutions for kids and adults with disabilities. He founded Adirondack AccessAbility which he now runs with his wife. "It is great now to be able to meld my love of teaching and passion for flying, and give forward some of what I've been lucky enough to experience. With the RAF I hope to put the advocacy experiences of my professional life to new use in the effort to develop and maintain back country general aviation options for the New York State aviation community and all who come to visit us."
Contact information: Phone number: 315-826-3929
North Dakota State Liaison, Brian Rau
Brian is the first to admit that he’s a “flatlander”.
“I do recognize that the world is round and not every place is as flat as North Dakota.” Actually, his portion of North Dakota – Prairie Coteau (French for “pot holes”) – is quite rugged with rolling hills. Brian and his wife Elly consider the Utah backcountry their favorite flying vacation spot. “The first time we visited the area, we rode our bicycles from the Canyonlands airport into Moab and back, UffDa!!” (Scandinavian for “bad idea”) The Utah area fits their limited flying opportunity well, as the strips are usually open and temperatures moderate in the late fall and early spring when they are not busy farming and flying as aerial applicators. (FAA for “crop dusters”) Brian is currently involved with the National Agricultural Aviation Association, which uses up most of his vacations.
Some consider aerial application as not being environmentally friendly. Brian says, “the truth is that high production agriculture, of which aerial application is an important part, is very good for the environment. High production agriculture allows food to be grown without as much fossil fuel use and with less land, which allows more land to remain for people and wildlife.” Brian’s knowledge and experience brings an important aspect of conservation to the RAF.
As in backcountry flying, agricultural flying is about how much weight you put in the airplane for the conditions at the time. “What’s different is that most of us flying into the backcountry don’t have the luxury of excessive power or turbine engines. If I get lazy with my 182 going into a backcountry strip, I am in big trouble,” Brian says.
Brian’s entry into backcountry flying was mostly self taught, lots of reading, talking to others and practicing short field landings and takeoffs, followed by very cautious trips into some of the less demanding strips before moving on to more difficult strips. “I believe that I achieved my experience safely, but in retrospect I could have saved myself a lot of time by hiring an instructor who knew the area well,” Brian says, adding, “the UBCPA has a list of instructors willing to help.”
Some may not consider caution characteristic of an Ag Pilot. “You will find that those who have flown ag for 30 years are the most cautious of all, as they have seen what the wrong attitude does to pilots and aircraft. One of my mentors told me as a young pilot, ‘ There are two things in life everyone must learn. First there is a God, and second, you are not Him.’ ”
Brian concludes, “I hope to meet all of you sometime in the backcountry”.
Oklahoma State Liaison, Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson was raised on a farm in southern Oklahoma. He was born in 1966 and since his earliest memories he knew what he wanted to do. Fly Airplanes. At age 14 his dad introduced him to a coworker that was in the Civil Air Patrol and soon he started taking flying lessons. By age 16 he partnered on a 1956 Cessna 172. Not until he left the airport did it occur to him that maybe he should have bought a pickup or car first? Because he borrowed his parents farm truck to go to the bank and airport that day he did not have his own transportation to get to the airplane he had just purchased. After high school he worked as a heavy equipment operator and went to college at night while he finished up more ratings. Steve has been flying cooperate and commercial aircraft ever since to support his love of flying. He enjoys traveling with his son and friends, camping, hiking, fishing and meeting great new friends along the way all over the country. Steve says, “The type of flying we do is truly one of the great freedoms we have in this country and let's continue to protect it for our use and those of the next generation”.
Contact information: Phone number: 580-277-0640
Oregon State Liaison, Dennis Smith
Although Dennis Smith was born in the South, he has always called the Northwest home. His father, who worked for both Lockheed and Boeing, introduced Dennis to flying early. He was easily hooked after viewing the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains from the air.
Currently residing in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with his wife Stephanie, who is also a pilot and Garmin engineer, the couple can often be found cruising the local skies in their Piper Tomahawk looking for fun places to go and beautiful Northwest features to photograph.
As president of the Oregon Pilots Association (2011 to 2013), Dennis says several concerns have been brought to the organization’s attention, including backcountry issues and airstrip closures. And with some time on their hands, Dennis and Stephanie have wanted to explore the backcountry airstrips for additional recreation opportunities. After seeing the disappearance of many good destinations, Dennis was motivated to apply to the RAF as a volunteer in Oregon.
The couple is now on the lookout for a backcountry airplane so they can join the folks around the campfire and share the joys of recreational flying.
Oregon State Liaison, Phil Olson
With inspiration coming from his dad, a World War II Navy PBY Black Cat pilot in the South Pacific, Phil Olson took his first solo in 1968 in Corvallis, Oregon. He currently holds an ATP and CFI, CFII and MEI certificates. His aviation career includes flight instruction, air taxi/charter, corporate and flying the line for Horizon Air. The Northwest is where Phil has chosen to log the majority of his 5,000-plus hours.
His first aircraft ownership in 1973 was a J-4A Cub. Phil currently owns a backcountry equipped 1978 Super Cub, a 1982 Cessna 182 and is looking forward to delivery of a new Just Aircraft Super STOL. Flying light aircraft to off-the-beaten-path airstrips has been part of his and his wife Gretchen’s passion for adventure for many years. In the 1980s, with their two daughters, then 3 and 6 years of age, you could find a 1959 PA-20/22 camping in many areas of the West Coast and Mexico’s Baja and Mainland.
Phil has operated a commercial farming operation near Amity since 1973. Blueberry production is the main focus these days along with ownership involvement with food processors RainSweet, Inc. and Calyx Fruit, LLC, in Salem. His fruit can be found in major chains across the United States and Pacific Rim countries.
Married for 42 years, Phil and Gretchen, a former TWA flight attendant and children’s book author, enjoy travel, spending time at their southeast Oregon ranch and disappearing off the radar in their Super Cub. Living on their farm, with the hangar located a mere 250 yards from their home, the beck and call of adventure to explore places like Utah’s incredible backcountry airstrips is ever present.
Contact information: Phone number: 503 851-8700
Pennsylvania State Liaison, Lloyd Babcock
Lloyd took his first flight out of a grass strip from a backcountry airport that is now closed, and soloed in a Piper J-3 from a grass field in West Chester, PA back in 1956. His love of flying started with his first flight and has been his passion ever since.
He was a co-founder of a flying club that started in 1964 at KMQS, Coatesville, PA. It was the very same airport that he flies out of today with his Mooney Ovation.
He currently spends most of the winter in the Bahamas and island-hops throughout the Bahamas and the lower Caribbean. During the summer months, he flies mainly in the northeast, but has flown his Ovation to California, Nova Scotia, Montana, and out west several times, including when he met John and Tricia McKenna in Bozeman, MT.
After hearing the RAF story at their dinner meeting, he decided that he wanted to be part of the great plan to save backcountry airports. He will dedicate as much time as it requires to carry out the RAF mission in the State of Pennsylvania.
Contact information: Phone number: 484-467-2702
South Carolina State Liaison, Kathy Hegenberger
Kathy was the second youngest in a family of six kids with three older brothers, an older sister and a younger brother. She grew up in an east side suburb of Cincinnati, OH in the 50s and 60s.There she attended The Summit Country Day School where she loved playing sports, especially field hockey and softball.
Kathy went on to University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL, where she graduated with a double major in history and geography, and played on the women’s softball team as a left fielder and pitcher. She attended graduate school at Miami University in Oxford, OH, graduating with a master’s degree in geography. The classes in climatology, geography and geology really paid off when she started accumulating ratings as a pilot. She is a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI, CFII, MEI), as well as an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) and Certified Dispatcher.
Kathy is president of the local chapter of WAI the Palmetto Pride Chapter and the author of My Mimi Has Wings.
Contact information: Phone number: 513-325-0280
South Dakota State Liaison, Dan Elwood
Dan was raised on a farm and ranch on the Pine Ridge Reservation in south west South Dakota. His first plane ride was his senior year in college in an Ercoupe in 1968 and he was hooked. He flew 20 hours that spring, started a family and a career. He spent the next 45 years in Education Administration.
Upon retirement his wife agreed he needed more to do. While reading backcountry flying articles he learned about Todd Peterson’s conversions. He found a low time Skylane, had it converted and got his license in 2010, 42 years after the first solo.
Dan has continued his involvement in agriculture and has a ranch east of Pierre where he maintains several 800 to 1800 foot grass strips.
His wife of 47 years, Carolyn, is a big supporter of flying. They look forward to getting to know the strips of the Northwest and the other pilots that enjoy them.
He is a member of the South Dakota Pilots Association, the RAF, and the EEA.
Contact information: Phone number: 605 280 5839
Texas State Liaison, Chase Snodgrass
Chase Snodgrass is one of those fellows who had the skill to solo an airplane at age 14 but had to wait until he turned 16 so he could do it legally. He spent his junior high, high school, and college years sweeping hangar floors, washing planes, and pumping avgas as a means of paying for flight training.
Working his way up through the ranks, Chase spent several years as a line pilot for the U.S. Border Patrol flying Super Cubs, C-182s, and OH-6 helicopters in South Texas, tracking down thousands of groups of illegal aliens, performing search and rescue operations, providing close air support to ground agents, and serving as a unit safety and training pilot. He retired as the Patrol Agent in Charge of the Presidio, Texas Border Patrol Station at the end of 2010.
After retirement, Chase completed and flew an RV-10 kit plane, founded the Big Bend Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and has been working to advance and promote aviation in the Big Bend Region of Texas with emphasis on emergency services and economic development. He is an active flight instructor, A&P mechanic, and airports planning and management consultant.
Chase is working hard to help get the Recreational Use Statute passed in Texas, and is looking forward to sharing his passion for aviation with the RAF. He and his wife Debbie have 3 sons.
Contact information: Phone number: 832-588-8888
Texas State Liaison, Scot Warren
Scot Warren grew up on a farm in Colorado where friends started teaching him to fly at 11 years old. His passion for flying comes from his dad who owned Pueblo Aircraft service from about 1965 until 1969, when he was killed in a plane crash.
Scot remembers getting in trouble for climbing in airplanes and flipping switches. Now he gets paid to do just that.
He soloed at 16 and earned his private rating at 17. After graduating from high school, Scot attended Lehman Aviation’s ag pilot training school in Casa Grande, Arizona, where he finished his commercial training at age 18. He landed an ag pilot job in the Arkansas Valley, Colorado, and when he wasn’t ag flying, he towed gliders at Black Forest, Colorado. Then he moved to Temple, Texas in 1984 to answer a listing for an ag pilot seat and during that time he managed to barter for his Instrument and multi-engine rating.
A year later, Rio Airways hired Scot to fly its turboprop commuters. At age 19 and 20 he was too young to upgrade and moved to Jet East in Dallas where he flew corporate turbo props and jets and earned his ATP certificate at age 21, two years before he could exercise the privileges. At age 23 Jet East upgraded Scot to King Air captain and type rated him in a Lear Jet on his birthday.
Subsequently, Scot received an offer he could not refuse from Mr. Jim Wikert and worked for him as a corporate pilot, flying freight at Express One International Dallas, Texas, He flew 727, and 737’s in a supplemental Freight and passenger charter as well as Mr. Wikert’s personal aircraft. This included anything from a Pitts S2B and King Airs to Lear Jets (25, 35, 31, 36), Hawkers, Citations and a DC-9. Scot was typed in the Citation, DC-9, B-727, B-737, at the age 24 and 25.
In 1990, at 26, Scot began working for Southwest Airlines. While working for Southwest, he started Warren Aircraft in 2003, which specializes in Super Cub restorations. He has always had a passion for backcountry recreational flying, but his aviation career took left seat, leaving him little time to enjoy flying for fun — the “shoemaker can’t afford the shoes syndrome,”
When Randy Lervold called Scot three years ago to ask him to be a CubCrafters Certified Sales Center, he accepted. Now he has the perfect airplane to get around the backcountry — and to promote and preserve neighbor friendly and safe, recreational flying.
Scot is looking forward to working with TEAM RAF and the general aviation population.
Contact information: Phone number: 940-367-0929
Utah State Liaison, Steve Durtschi
Steve is a Utah resident and after 60 years lives less than a mile from where he grew up. He and his wife Cathy and have been married for 35 years and have two children. (Their daughter is a FSS briefer in Prescott - ask for Stefani as she loves hearing from back country pilots). Steve has a degree in Geology from the University of Utah and worked as a Utah geologist before beginning a 25 year career as an engineer in the solid rocket propulsion industry. He retired in 2010. His first love is airplanes and he has restored and flown an Aeronca Chief, Boeing Stearman, Cessna L-19 Birddog, and a Cessna 185 which he owns and roams the back country now for 17 years. He also built and flew a Super Cub clone for a number of years. In retirement, he is a volunteer manager of a local airport, Bountiful Skypark (BTF), and has a small aerial photography business and loves to work in his machine shop at the airport. Steve is also president of the Utah Back Country Pilots Association. UBCP looks after Utah's small but marvelous collection of remote recreational landing strips.
Contact information: Phone number: 801 678-1293
Utah State Liaison, Wayne Loeber
Wayne was born on a sugar beet farm outside Sheridan, Wyoming in 1946 and did not experience running water or electricity until the age of 10 when we moved to Southern CA. Wayne attended high school and college in CA where he soloed in a Super Cub at the age of 17.
He became a flight instructor for less than a year before he got a job flying checks and finished college with a BS in Math. Next aviation stop was Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands flying C-54's and Caribou’s as a civilian for the US Army. After two years on a very small island Wayne got the break he always wanted and was hired by Western Airlines in 1970. He retired from Delta in 2003 after flying in six different bases and eight different Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft. What a great gig it was.
After he retired he built his second experimental aircraft in 7 months and flew it to OSHKOSH.
Wife Cindy and Wayne moved to St George in 2005 to get away from the Salt Lake weather and be close to the kids, grandkids and Cindy's parents.
Wayne missed organized flying so he trained in the 747-200 and flew to and from the Haj in North Africa, based in Jeddah.
When Wayne turned 60 Net Jets hired him as a pilot on the Hawker 800XP, and he enjoyed that for 3 years.
Now flying is limited to a few hours a month in an amazing Eclipse Jet, his F-1 and a just completed homebuilt Breezy.
When not hanging around an airport Wayne might be losing golf balls on his home course in St George or biking around Snow Canyon, Utah.
Contact information: Phone number: 801-514-9473
Vermont State Liaison, R.M. "Bob" Burley
What began as frequent 12 mile bicycle rides to a local Vermont airport in the early 1950’s quickly evolved into a full-fledged airport rat manifestation.
Along the way, peripheral excursions have included: retired international corporate executive (F-10 company), former Air Force officer, pilot, stints as Highway Engineer, logger, Operations Director for a large New England FBO, aerial surveying, Museum Aviation Curator and other fruitful stops. Currently living and managing a forest and wildlife area in Northern Vermont (aka the “Dog Patch”), much current personal time and treasure is expended in pursuits of Masters Alpine Ski Racing, technical mountain biking, mountain climbing, rowing, golf, Chairman of Town Council and perhaps most importantly, the discovery of interesting places for “walking the dog”, (an Aviat Husky A-1B with over 10 years of field trials experience). As a matter of policy, we always remain available for random mischief, with frequent presence at back country strips and “non-strips” in New England, the Adirondacks and Quebec. Grass, gravel, ice, snow and tail draggers would in deed appear to be a verifiable natural law.
While equally comfortable in black tie or grease stained coveralls, the hands remain calloused.
Contact information: Phone number: 802-888-3409
Washington State Liaison, Robert L. "Bob" Kay
Bob has 42 years’ experience flying in Washington, the Northwest, and world wide. He retired from a 32-year career as a pilot in the Washington state Air National Guard flying fighters and tankers. Bob worked for the Boeing Aircraft Co. and spent 21 years as a Production Test pilot and Instructor there.
Bob has commuter airline experience as well, with Cascade and Empire Airways. His general aviation experience has been in corporate jets, turboprops, light twins and backcountry flying in single engine aircraft with the State of Idaho and US Forest Service contracts.
All this adds up so far to about 13,500 hours in three dozen airplanes. Bob currently is the owner of KayCo WorldWide, LLC, manufacturer of lightweight backpacking equipment. He also serves as reseller of pre-owned aircraft in Washington State and provides aviation consulting.
He and his wife Jo enjoy backpacking, skiing, biking, boating and fly fishing. They live in Kent, WA near Crest Airpark.
Contact information: Phone number: 206-818-9086
Wisconsin State Liaison, Chuck Aldrian
Chuck started flying in 1966 to facilitate the expansion of his Milwaukee based Architectural and Engineering Company throughout the Mid-West and Eastern States. Since then he has accumulated over 5600 hours with almost half of it multi-engine time.
Since retiring from the Architectural business in 1998 and moving to NW Wisconsin, Chuck has been very involved with the local EAA Young Eagle Program where he has flown over 400 kids exposing them to General Aviation and hoping they will someday become pilots.
Chuck and his wife Judy have flown all over the country including twice to Alaska, Hudson Bay, the Bahamas, the West Coast, East Coast and almost everywhere in between.
Chuck was introduced to the RAF by Founding Director Chuck Jarecki whom he met while on a group Air Tour in Australia along with their wives.
Contact information: Phone number: 715-354-7002