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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 5 July 31, 2008     

EAA member honored with Spirit of Flight Award
By Dana Heimos
Bill Mitchell

During the Homebuilders Dinner Thursday at the Nature Center, the Spirit of Flight Award will be presented to a man with a passion and commitment to aviation and safety.

Bill Mitchell, of Denver, Colorado, was scheduled to receive the honorable award from Society of Experimental Test Pilots President Ricardo Traven.

When Mitchell and his wife, Mary, heard the wonderful news about a month ago, they were shocked. "I was stunned," Mitchell said. "It was a very pleasant surprise, and I had no idea that I was nominated."

Fellow EAA Chapter 43 member Eugene Horsman nominated Mitchell for the award because of Mitchell’s enthusiasm and dedication to homebuilt flight safety. "Bill has become ‘Mr. Aviation’ here in this area and is one of Chapter 43’s greatest assets," Horsman said.

He has spent 51 years in the air, flown more than 12,000 hours, and has conducted flight testing since the late 1950s. As an EAA flight advisor, he has made the first flight of many homebuilt aircraft and was named safety officer of his chapter.

National Geographic, Universal Airlines, and Air America are just a few organizations that Mitchell has flown for, and he has flown in more than 20 different types of aircraft, including motorgliders, Cessnas, and Glasairs. "My favorite aircraft to fly was a C-46 World War II freighter," Mitchell said.

He continues to give biennial flight reviews, give flight instruction, and present safety topics and his knowledge of aviation to local EAA chapters. "He loves soaring and quite often has given topics to the chapter on soaring and how we can make use of this information in flying our regular airplanes," Horsman said.

Both Mitchell and his wife have participated in the Young Eagles program since it began in 1992. Mitchell alone has flown nearly 120 kids and continues volunteering his time to the program. "Aviation, within itself, is getting old," Mitchell said. "But if you get one out of 100 kids to become a pilot or take part in aviation, then you’ve won."

EAA and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots are pleased to have awarded Mitchell the Spirit of Flight Award at the Homebuilders Dinner as he represents what the award entails; an EAA member who best exemplifies the spirit of research, development, or flight testing.

"Over the many years of flying, I never thought I would receive such an award, but I’m very excited and pleased," Mitchell said.

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