MEEKER I On July 27, Meeker pilot David Cole completed a routine charter pilot proficiency flight test to join the Colorado Flight Center team in Grand Junction.
The day was made extraordinary, however, when Rhuandale Hinson, the FAA aviation safety inspector and Richard Jeffs, the Salt Lake City Federal Aviation Administration safety team manager, presented Cole with the FAA Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot Award.
The Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot Award is 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 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.”
Cole received his private pilot license in 1964 while still in high school, even before he had a driver’s license. He is rated to fly and give flight instruction in gliders, helicopters, seaplanes and multi-engine aircraft. He is type rated to fly 15 heavy aircraft including WWII bombers and many airliners up to the Boeing 747-400, in which he flew and instructed for United.
He worked as a glider research pilot in Austria during the early 1970s, and has flown for the original Frontier, People Express, Continental and United airlines. For three years he served as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector doing inspections of all air carriers out of Denver.
Cole moved to Meeker to fly a helicopter for Malcom Bricklin in 1987 and retired from United Airlines in 2005. He was named aviation program director at CNCC from 2005 through 2008, then flew corporate jet charters through 2014.
He recently began flying charters for Colorado Flight Center based in Grand Junction, owned by Bradley Sullivan.
David’s wife, Martha, is active in rural school history and church. Both are active with the local VFW, American Legion and Auxiliary. They love the area and its people and are optimistic about its future.