El Aero President Susan McGinnis, left, John Kelly, center, and FAA Safety Program Manager Larry Cheek.
Anyone who has flown in and around the Carson City and Elko areas as well as the western United States in general will recognize the name John Kelly.
On Monday, Aug. 8 Kelly was awarded The Wright Brothers’ “Master Pilot” Award by the Federal Aviation Administration. The award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots. It’s named after the Wright brothers, the first U.S. pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots.”
Kelly’s career began with that first flight in 1965 and has encompassed a tour of duty as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Shortly after leaving the Army, Kelly went to work for El Aero Services and has continued as an El Aero pilot since 1975.
As a utility helicopter pilot for El Aero, he has performed aerial fire-fighting and seeding, long line, aerial geophysics, mineral exploration, animal census and gathering, power line construction and patrol, snow and soil surveys and aerial photography in addition to servicing communication sites for the military and civilian users.
If it can be done with a helicopter, Kelly probably has done it. Much of the aerial footage taken during the flood of 1997 was taken by Kelly in addition to several television productions.
Those who know and work with Kelly wish to thank and congratulate him for a lifelong commitment to the profession.