Pilot Photo

Paul Gillenwater presents the Federal Aviation Administration Wright Brothers Master Award to Paul LeBlanc on Sunday.

A Wapakoneta man was honored for more than 50 years of safe flying.

Paul LeBlanc has been a pilot for 55 years — with both military and corporate experience — and on Sunday was presented the Federal Aviation Administration Wright Brothers Master Award in a ceremony at the Neil Armstrong Airport, where he keeps a single-engine plane in a hangar he rents there.

The award was presented by Paul Gillenwater, the safety team program manager in the Columbus FAA office.

“This award really signifies a beginning, in my opinion, of where you are after 50 years. You are still a mentor, you’ve got 50 years and thousands of hours in most cases to pass on to the next generation of pilots,” Gillenwater said. “You may stop flying professionally but you will never stop being a professional pilot. With the dedication to safety and mentorship, it just goes on to the next generation.”

LeBlanc was nominated by Airport Authority Board Member Gene Wills, who read about the Master Pilot award in flight magazines and after doing some research realized LeBlanc would qualify. Wills sponsored the nomination and other board members wrote letters of recommendation.

To read the full story, pick up a print copy of Monday's edition of The Evening Leader.

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