Message from the President

I would like to thank the membership for the opportunity to be your president.  I have met some of our members and hope to meet more of you in Anchorage, AK at our annual reunion in August 2020!  Once an exclusive club for those who had either flown or worked on the OX5, membership is now open to anyone with an interest in this historical engine.  My immediate goals as president are to find ways to boost our membership and to continue to promote the history of the OX5 engine.

A little about me:  I was born in Anchorage, Alaska on September 9, 1952 and lived there until 1994 except for college.  I grew up in an aviation household; my father Joe Wilbur built his own aviation business, Wilbur’s Flight Operations, from the ground up first as a maintenance shop, later becoming the Cessna, Piper and Maule dealerships, a full-service FBO with flight school, charters and an airline.  My mom holds SEL, commercial and helicopter ratings and continues her membership as a Ninety-Nines still today.  As a boy growing up I spent many of my days in the hangar and on the ramp, working and playing.  I logged my first hour of flight time at 12, got my private license on my 17th birthday, my A&P at 20.  I continued to pursue aviation for the rest of my long career.

After graduating from HS, I attended Northrop University in Los Angeles, earning an Airframe and Power Plant certification.  I then went back to Alaska where I flew everything from single engine wheel and float planes, twin-engines, and helicopters. I worked for several prominent aviation businesses, including Wilbur’s Flight Operations, Valdez Airlines, and Peninsula Airways.  I held a wide range of positions including Flight Instructor, Captain, Chief Pilot, Director of Maintenance, Check Airman, and Director of Operations. During this time, I instructed a beautiful young woman named Jeanne. She ended up getting not only a student pilot’s license but also a marriage license in the process! Jeanne and I were married in 1979 and raised two children, Mark and Lindsay. After over 20 years and more than 14,000 miles of flying in Alaska, I decided to pursue flying in the lower 48 (as Alaskans call it) and the family moved to Colorado.

I began flying Boeing 737’s with Mark Air, based out of Denver. As anyone in the aviation industry knows, things can change in an instant. The next year I began working for Western Pacific flying the Boeing 737 in Colorado Springs, the city I still call home today. Three years later I flew for Express One International on the Boeing 727, flying across Europe, Mexico and the US. In 2003, I found what would be my final (and favorite) scheduled 121 airline, JetBlue Airways. I was based out of JFK on the Airbus A320/321, my home away from home.  At the age of 65, I had amassed over 35,000 hours. On my last scheduled flight, I was joined by my wife Jeanne, our immediate family including my mom and our 3 little grandsons – 15 of us in all. I am currently flying maintenance ferry flights for JetBlue which is really a fun, part-time “pastime” that keeps me current and still flying the heavy metal.  After the passing of my youngest brother Bruce in 1988, I decided that I would finish his OX5 powered Waco 9 restoration project in his memory.  Details of the project can be found on my website, Wilburswacorestoration.com.

 

Tailwinds,

Rich Wilbur

OX5 National President

 

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