By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
TxDOT Aviation Division Director Dave Fulton recently received the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots, The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. Fulton was presented the award by Randy Loveless from FAA’s San Antonio Flight Standards District Office during this year’s Texas Aviation Conference.
The 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.”
To be eligible for the Wright Brothers MPA, nominees must meet the following criteria:
- Hold a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or FAA pilot certificate.
- Have 50 or more years of civil and military flying experience.
- Up to 20 years of the required 50 years may be U.S. military experience.
- The effective start date for the 50 years is the date of the nominee’s first solo flight or military equivalent.
- The 50 years may be computed consecutively or non-consecutively.
- Be a U.S. citizen.
Asked by Loveless to describe his first flight, Fulton recounted the following.
“I’d never been in a small airplane before. I went down to Pensacola and got through ground school. And then went up in a plane with the instructor. After a while he took his hands off the controls and said ‘ok, you’ve got it,’ and I replied that I didn’t know what to do. He then hollered ‘dangit do something quick or else we’re both going to die!’”