Dick Sipp of Midland talks about a flying drill he participated in during college at a Midland Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1093 meeting. Sipp was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during the meeting. "I feel so thankful to have found something that I enjoy doing," Sipp said. "I knew too many friends that dreaded Mondays; I never did."
It was both an honor and a surprise when Dick Sipp was recognized as a Master Pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Midland resident Sipp received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award April 7, as a result of 50 years of accident and violation-free flying and demonstrating professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations. He applied for the recognition, awarded by the FAA, about a year ago.
“It’s obviously an honor to survive this long and I tell people it’s a matter of being smart enough and being lucky enough,” Sipp said.
There was something he didn’t expect when Sipp and his family showed up at the meeting for Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1093 in Midland. Along with a plaque and certificate, he received a half-inch thick stack of papers: his flying record straight from the FAA, which included his licenses over the years and any communications he had with the organization.
“It was interesting to look at that stuff. I was surprised they kept so much of it,” Sipp said.
He has been a pilot for about 51 years, ever since his father suggested he join a fraternity and Sipp heard about the Air Force and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
“I qualified for pilot training and the rest is history,” Sipp said.
Sipp achieved the rank of colonel and retired from the Air Force Reserve after 33 years of military service, during which he served in Vietnam and Desert Storm. He also worked as a commercial pilot and sometimes piloted executives of the Ford Motor Co.
He described it as a “fairly good accomplishment” to make it 50 years without any violations or minor accidents like blowing a tire, especially considering his previous work as a commercial pilot flying two or three times a week.
When asked to share some memorable moments in his flying career, Sipp said there are almost too many to count.
While he regularly takes leisurely trips to take in the fall colors or do some sightseeing, Sipp said he truly enjoys joining other pilots in what is called formation flying.
“It requires a lot of discipline but it’s a lot of fun to do,” Sipp said.
On one occasion, Sipp and other pilots had the chance to fly with a group known as the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first black military pilots during World War II. It was during an air show, and Sipp can still recall being up in the air surrounded by 14 or 15 different airplanes and watching the airmen react to the appearance of a rare WW II airplane that they flew while in the military.
“It was quite an emotional time for them,” Sipp said.
Sipp himself had the opportunity to fly a B-25 plane that was used in WW II after volunteering with the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti.
Nowadays he helps introduce area youths to the fun that can be had up in the air through the Young Eagle program, where experienced pilots take children ages 8 to 17 for a quick spin above the Jack Barstow Municipal Airport. It’s a treat for him to see their faces as some take to the sky for the first time.
“A few of them really have quite a reaction, which is fun,” Sipp said.
Sipp flies a small experimental aircraft, designated as RV12, that he built himself. He plans to take it out of winter storage next week to fly up north in Michigan and have a friend do some maintenance on it.
“I try to fly as often as I can, at least two or three times a month,” Sipp said. “It’s strictly for fun.”
While he is the only pilot in the family, Sipp was surrounded by members of his family when he accepted the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and said he was especially glad his three granddaughters were there with him.
“I could not have done it without their support,” Sipp said about his family, especially when he was serving in the military. “They are really the reason you can spend so many years on this, and make it work.”
Original article can be found here: http://www.ourmidland.com