Two Leesville residents earn coveted FAA Award
Two Leesville pilots were presented the Federal Aviation Administration’s coveted Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award on during the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1356’s monthly meeting at Leesville Municipal Airport Nov. 7.
Ralph D. McRae, Jr. and William C. Pardue, Jr. were honored with the most prestigious award the FAA issues to general aviation pilots. Named after the Wright Brothers, the first aviators, the award recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft. To date, this Award has only been given to 2,000 of the almost 500,000 general aviation pilots in the United States.
McRae started his distinguished flying career with his solo flight on Jan. 10, 1966. He served in the U.S. Army and flew an O-1G in Vietnam for 1,148 combat hours, where he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, 29 Air Medals and the RVN Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. Throughout his aviation career, McRae has flown many different aircraft, where he amassed 7,622.3 flight hours. He currently owns and flies an O-1G “Bird Dog” and a Robinson R-44 helicopter.
Pardue conducted his first solo flight on Feb. 14, 1968. He is an instrument-rated commercial pilot and has logged over 3516 flight hours. He currently owns a Cessna 206 and continues to fly for business and pleasure.
The Awards were presented by Don Pardon representing the FAA’s Flight Standards District Office in Baton Rouge. Pardon is the FAA’s Safety Team (FAASTeam) Representative for West-Central Louisiana.