Pilots honored for 50 years of flying

June 19, 1997


Staff Writer

Two area pilots were honored Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration for being pioneers in aviation safety.

Joseph Kadel of Waynesboro, Pa., is a UFO - United Flying Octogenarians - an organization for pilots 80 years old and up.

George Marville of Greencastle, Pa., also honored by the FAA, became an eligible UFO when he turned 80.

The two men were invited to Baltimore-Washington International Airport to receive the Wright Brothers Master Aviator Award.

They and six other Maryland pilots - all with more than 50 years of continuous flying experience - were the first in the country to receive national recognition for their years of safe flying.

Doug Lundgren, a spokesman for FAA, said his agency created the program to get senior pilots to share their knowledge of safety.


"We wanted to find a way of reaching out to older pilots ... get them to come out of retirement and share their secrets with younger pilots," Lundgren said.

Kadel said he's honored by the FAA's recognition. Since retiring as a U.S. Navy captain 25 years ago, he's been emphasizing safety in general aviation at Washington County Regional Airport, as an instructor and organizer.

"More people are killed by the `gotta get there' attitude than anything else," he said.

Marville also is a safety advocate, "I've told hundreds of pilots, `the little things you don't do ... won't hurt you, they'll kill you.'"

Both men said the most frustrating aspect of piloting is knowing how truly safe it is, but hearing of accidents that happened because people just didn't think.

Kadel said lawyers, doctors, CEOs of big companies and other people with pressure-filled jobs tend to make more mistakes.

They carry the high-pitched pace of their professions into flying, which leads to minor but deadly mistakes, such as not checking the fuel, oil or basic instruments, he said.

Melville agreed: "We've had a few of that kind in the last few years. I tell them to take up golf and forget flying," if they can't take the time to be careful.

Melville, a retired U.S. Army captain, received decorations from the U.S. and Chinese military for flying fuel over the Himalaya Mountains during World War II. He said the fuel was used for bombing runs over Japan.

Kadel has his own decorations, although not from the military. He said the military wouldn't let him fly because he had a family. "But I'm flying now more than ever."

The Maryland Aviation Administration last year awarded Kadel Golden Eagle and the Silver Eagle Pilot honors for 50 years as a general aviator.

Melville and Kadel said their love for flying started in their childhoods and has flourished into serious but joy-filled hobbies.

They agreed that the FAA award was like icing on a cake because it weighed their dedication to general aviation for its value to future pilots.

Melville discovered that another Army pilot receiving the same award was Walter O'Neill, of Harford County, an old war buddy of Melville's.

The two flew together over the Himalayas - or "the hump" - in some of the most dangerous World War II missions, but had no clue that they ended up living in the same state.

"He recognized me and I recognized him, and nearly fell into a faint," Melville said.

Melville's smile disappeared when he talked about his wife's death last month from cancer.

"This has been the worst month of my life," but for the distraction of flying, he said.

The awards were presented during Maryland's second general aviation summit. All eight senior-citizen pilots received FAA certificates of recognition and Master Aviator Wings.

Carolyn S. Motz, manager of Washington County Regional Airport, received an award from FAA for her management skills and for creating the first Airport Manager's Association in Maryland.

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