On February 10, 2018, local resident Alan Roberts was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61. This award is named after the Wright Brothers, the first US pilots, to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots.” In other words, the pilot has a perfect safety record free of accidents and incident free for 50 years. His name will be added to the Roll of Honor for the FAA’s Master Pilot Recipient List.
Kay Roberts researched and submitted her husband’s information for consideration of the award as a surprise for her husband. Less than one half of one percent of all pilots achieve the recognition so it’s quite an honor. This prestigious Award was presented by FAA representative Ernie Copeland at the EAA Chapter 1044 meeting on February 10th at the Mogollon Air Park. The award included a beautiful plaque, a certified copy of Alan’s complete airman’s file with the FAA and pins for both Alan and his wife Kay acknowledging his 50 years as a pilot. Following the award presentation, everyone enjoyed dinner put on by Kay and catered by The Rim Country Community Center.
Roberts was introduced to flying by his father who had his private pilot’s license and bought and sold aircraft as a hobby. Alan began flying at age 15, earned his private pilot’s license at age 16 in 1967 and became a flight instructor in 1972. He served as an Air Traffic Controller while in the US Army in Vietnam. After the service he began flying as a corporate pilot and eventually flew as an Airline Captain with America West, US West and American Airlines from 1987 to 2015 when he retired per FAA mandates. He has continued his passion for flying with his own 1975 Cessna 180J and also pilots for a private charter jet company out of Scottsdale Airport, Jet Pros.
“I was very humbled by it,” Roberts told me. “To be accident and incident free for 50 years, I’m sure there’s some luck involved in it. But it was a good excuse for a party and great to see and visit with old friends.”
Kay said the part of the award ceremony that seemed to touch Alan the most was when the letters of recommendation by three of his friends and past coworkers were read. In the words of one of the letters by Glenn Johnmeyer, “He continues to be an asset to aviation.” That sums it up quite well. Congratulations Captain Alan Roberts in reaching this considerable lifetime achievement award!