Did you ever get one of those unexpected emails that made you take a moment to reflect upon our lives?
Well, I had written a post about the Wright Brother's Master Pilot Award
which is awarded by the FAA to pilots who have followed, and continue to follow, the precaution and awareness of safe flight operations for 50 or more consecutive years of piloting aircraft and received a very nice email from the daughter of a pilot who was slated to receive this award. I told her to let me know when the event took place, and on April 24th, 2010 at the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame her father, Russ Jensen, was one of 3 recipients of this prestigious award. Proud as punch she sent me a nice email and said "We were so proud of our dad on April 24th!" I asked her to give me a little information about her dad's flying experience but she really didn't know much more than what a great pilot he was. So, she had him email me, and in a very humble email he gave me some information which I would like to share with all of you. Rather than rewrite it here is the email I received from Russel Jensen, Wright Brother's Master Pilot Award recipient: "I don't usually talk about myself, but since Laurie is involved, I'll give you the answers you are looking for. My flying career began officially in 1957 when I started pilot training with the Air Force in Mission, Texas. I progress through the program to receive a single engine jet fighter rating in 1958, and went on to fly for the Minnesota Air National Guard. I flew for them for almost 30 years, and flew may different varieties of Air Force aircraft. My main missions with the Guard was air defense in the f-89, military transport in the C-97 stratocruiser, and tactical operations in the C-130. All the while I did civilian flying in light airplanes. I was never an airline pilot. I have over ten thousand hours. One tends to not care about anything over ten thousand hours unless someone is paying you to fly and needs to record your time. I own a 1946 Ercoupe, a classic that I keep at Lake Elmo airport (21D). It has been my companion for 28 years, and we have gone to both coasts, Alaska, Oaxaca Mexico, the Florida Keys, and all points in between. My ratings include single and multi engine, commercial, private, flight instructor and carries an instrument rating. I was an ATP in both the stratocruiser and the C-130. The master pilot award recognizes a person who has 50 years of continuous flight with no violations or accidents. How I got there I'll never know. Russ Jensen" Of course we all know how he got there, and his humility explains it all. I did respond to his email, and asked if he would be kind enough to let me do a podcast interview with him for "Hangar Talk", but so far he has not responded. I hope he will soon. As an aside, a friend of mine, Al Ayotte, was kind enough to ask me to write a letter of recommendation for him to receive this award - I'll keep you updated as to when he gets it. If you know any other recipients please let me know - I would be happy to honor them as well. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!