Ike Weathers, Master Pilot

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Aviation News, Promark News, Student News | Comments Off on Ike Weathers, Master Pilot

Ike WeathersI sometimes wonder how to recognize a life well lived, as I imagine it to be, particularly when viewed through the admittedly narrow focus on friends and clients, most of whom are aviators. Recently, I had the rare privilege of presenting the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Ike Weathers, who at 80 is still actively pursuing a pilot’s quest for excellence and adventure.

The Wright Brothers Award recognizes pilots who have flown for at least 50 years, which in and of itself is quite an accomplishment, but there is so much more. Over 2600 pilots are listed as recipients on the FAA website. But what is missing are the stories behind the names… the reflections, if you will, of their aviation lives which span almost half the history of humans in powered flight.

As Ike’s friends and family gathered in the church meeting hall on a glorious fall day, we listened to his children tell their stories of family adventures big and small while growing up in an aviation family. They recalled flights filled with joy as when Ike took his new mother in law for her first ride in an airplane, and another of immense sadness as his 87 year old father suffered a fatal heart attack as they descended towards their destination. Ike spoke poignantly of his last flight with his dear wife Betty, who despite her Alzheimers, was there for him and he for her.

There were photos of various airplanes including the aerobatic Edge in which he won the highest scoring percentage for the intermediate class at the 1999 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. We marveled at the photographs from his trip to Alaska in 2010, where he flew floats and bush planes with Don Lee in Talkeetna. But mostly there was Ike, quietly thanking us all for being there.

And in case I’ve left you with the impression that Ike is winding down his flying, let me explain that in the past years, he has been to Florida to fly the P-51 and T-6. He makes an annual trip to the southwest to fly aerobatics in a Pitts and sailplanes in the afternoon. He regularly flies with me in the Super Cub, the Float Plane and in his wonderful V35B Bonanza where we spend delightful hours challenging each other to figure out the mysteries of the advanced avionics he has installed to assist him in his many trips around the U.S. as he flies single pilot IFR with uncommon skill. This commitment to regular training, passion for excellence and humility while seeking new challenges defines his flying. But it is the evident love and respect of his friends and family that defines his character.

As Ike and the rest of us continue to fly the lines into our logbooks, I hope we take time to learn the stories, to share the experiences and to enjoy the reflections of an aviator’s life well lived. Congratulations, Ike! Well done.

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