2011 Alumni Reunion - Blurbs
David Fradin: Founder of the Michigan Flyers
In 1969, David Fradin founded the Michigan Flyers, with a few other University students. This bio on Dave was written by David Gell, another founding member, who is now a researcher for the upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter.
I met Dave Fradin at the first Michigan Flyers meeting I attended, in September 1969. It might have been the second meeting ever of the club. Dave Fradin, Dick Hoesli and I were all Freshman aerospace engineering students and were all excited to be part of a new flying club. So excited, that many times club activities took precedence over school.
The Michigan Flyers participated in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) meets. We had practice meets with Western Michigan, MSU and EMU to prepare for National meet in Bozeman. Dave participated in the cross country competition - an air rally where you had to predict your time at each checkpoint and your total fuel consumption. He came back with an aroma of av-gas. He decided he wasn't burning enough fuel, so he dumped some by opening the sump drain in flight by reaching through the open window.
NIFA meets were a lot of fun, practices at Tecumseh products and excuses to fly to exotic locations, like Bozeman, MT, Lafayette, IN, San Jose, CA, Auburn, Al.
Dave, Dick and I all took a course given by Prof. Wilber Nelson. At the time, 1970, there was a lot of controversy over supersonic transport aircraft. Prof. Nelson encouraged us to lobby in favor of the development of Boeing's SST, the 2707. Dave took on the challenge, and FASST was born.
David Gell: Rocket Scientist - Juno Mission
David Gell, (CFI who was one of the "founding fathers" of our club in 1969), now lives now in Texas and is one of the folks running the Cassini satellite around Saturn & Jupiter. Dave has been working hard on a launch of a satellite going to Jupiter. The launch successfully got off this past week. Here are his words about it:
“Juno got off Aug. 5. Some slight drama before launch. There was a problem with ground support equipment and a boat that was in the restricted area downrange. But the launch went off well. The solar arrays deployed and communications have been established with Juno. Next stop - Jupiter.”
When Jayne asked him a month ago if he earned his CFI at the club, his reply was: “I got my CFI in Philadelphia. I was working for GE then. I got my CFI so I could support myself when I returned to grad school. All of us were sartorially challenged when the club started - we, Dick, Dave and I, were freshman engineering students.”
For more information about the Juno Mission, check out the following sites:
- Juno Mission on Southwest Research Institute
- Juno Mission Outreach Website
- Publicly released photos & images
- Juno at KSC Photos
- Juno mini site on NASA.gov
- Juno on NASA Solar System Exploration
- Juno in Eyes on the Solar System 3D
- Juno Facebook page
- Juno Twitter
Dick Hoesli: Founding Member
My good friend Dick Hoesli hails from Gladwin, Michigan – runway length 4700 feet. I’ve known Dick for what feels like a century and one thing that has remained consistent over these many years is his love of aviation. He entered the U of M in the fall of 1969 with aspirations of aerospace engineering – and look what he’s done with those aspirations!
Dick discovered the UM Flyers when he attended an event advertised on a poster inviting campus aviation enthusiasts to get together to watch a “flying flick.” The hope was this meeting would ignite discussion about forming a campus flying club. You might say it worked – it was that event where Dick met Dave Fradin and Dave Gell, and the UM Flyers was born.
Dick went straight to work as the Flyers first secretary – you can even find his signature on the club’s Articles of Incorporation. The club benefited greatly from Dick’s top-notch organizational skills, discipline, and of course, his passion for flying.
Dick’s love of flying began at the age of twelve, when he rode in an airplane for the first time. He went on to earn his private pilot’s license during high school – receiving it on his 17th birthday, in fact – but his love of flying didn’t stop there. His passion and enthusiasm carried him into collegiate flying. Dick competed in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) and was ranked one of the top 25 pilots in collegiate flying for four years in a row. As a freshman he won first place in the “Power Off Accuracy Landings” category, igniting his campus celebrity!
Throughout this time, his appetite for flying only grew larger. Dick made a career out of flying, remaining faithful to the UM Flyers the entire time. Upon graduating from UM, he stayed on with the Flyers as the Club Operations Director, where he helped grow the club to several hundred members and around a dozen airplanes, all the while implementing sound business practices to help the club succeed.
Dick’s future in aviation certainly looked bright – he went on to fly corporate jets for a number of Fortune 500 companies. Currently he is Assistant Director of Aviation for the Marmon Group, where he pilots a Falcon 900EX and Falcon 7X.
The UM Flyers owes a huge thank you to Dick Hoesli for his determination, dedication and discipline that helped grow the club to what it is today – a friendly group that feels more like a family, sharing a love for flying and all things aviation.
Craig R. Sincock
Dick Hoesli the aspiring Voice of Michigan Stadium
In the early days of the club, Dick was my right hand, left hand and frequently carried me to the plane. He was the glue that kept the bailing wire and chewing gum in place for the club to succeed. He was my pilot, co-pilot and sometimes bombarder.
But I shall...forever...never...forgive him for failing to hit Ron Levy's convertible down Fiat during practice with the 2 lb flour and sand bomb.
When enroute to Bozeman for the club's first NIFA competition, we landed with a flat tire. Upon repair, it was Dick's turn to fly the next leg and reveal one of his dirty little secrets...his weak stomach. I think he was Hersey's chief pilot. Maybe chocolate soothes upset tummy's?
When there is a lot of turbulance, I would fly low and fast to get out of it as soon as possible. Dick preferred to go high and "try" to get on top of it.
So upon takeoff from Crystal airport north of Minneapolis, I noticed a unique 18 wheeler passing by on Interstate 94. Dick turned the 150 to the northwest and started his climb to test the plane's service ceiling. Once we crossed 12,000 feet and the plane was almost hanging from the prop for the flight, I looked down and noticed the cars on the freeway were passing us.
Undoghted and being the good co-pilot that I aspire to be (We discussed it before leaving Ann Arbor since we had equal ratings), I kept my mouth shut. Something Dick couldn't do with his barf bag on the previous leg of the flight.
Then a mere 120 miles later after what seemed about 2.5 hours in the air, Dick swooped down from outer space with our ears popping into Alexandria's Chandler field.
I swear the same truck we flew over upon departure passed us as we landed.
Rick Durden: Attorney, Author, & Aviator
My first memory of Rick was watching him unfold himself from a Cessna 150 Aerobat after giving instruction. Of course he was wearing a parachute so that made it even more amazing that he could actually fit his 6 foot plus body in that small enclosure. On top of that, he would do so, willingly and on a regular basis!
It was 1977 and we were at the Ann Arbor Airport, northwest T’s where the University Of Michigan Flyers called home. Rick was attending U of M Law school and flight instructing at the Flyers. No one really understood how he could be attending Law School, flight instructing and ‘socializing,’ at the same time and with seemingly little stress! Little did we know that he was an expert at multi-tasking.
And so this master of 3 A’s, Attorney, Author, Aviator, started his multi-faceted career. It seemed as his life was that of more than one man. However, it is not. It is just one man and he is still involved in the University of Michigan Flyers to this day.
Rick’s resume is very impressive. He is an attorney and his areas of practice include:
- Aircraft sale, purchase, lease and operating agreements
- Airport access, service and minimum standards
- FAA enforcement actions
- Aircraft owner insurance and liability
- Airport operator insurance and liability
- FBO insurance and liability
- Part 135 and 121 carrier insurance and liability
- Emergency and disaster planning for aircraft operators, FBOs, airlines and public benefit flying organizations
- Safety, risk management and liability exposure reviews for aircraft operators, FBOs, airlines and public benefit organizations
- Skydiving operator airport access, safety and liability reviews
- FAA Part 13 and Part 16 representation for airport tenants and businesses
Rick is an author and has shared his experience and insight into aviation as:
- Editor, IFR Refresher Magazine
- Columnist, The Pilot's Lounge, for AVweb, the Internet Aviation Magazine
- Contributing Editor, Aviation Consumer Magazine
- Contributor: AOPA Pilot Magazine, IFR Magazine, Plane and Pilot Magazine and Pilot Magazine, (UK)
- Author of numerous articles and presentations on aviation safety issues including pilot operations, crash protection and risk management
- FAA FAAST team representative
Rick has also been an expert witness on aviation law, pilot operations and aircraft operational safety.
As well as consultant of development of Aircraft and Operations Manuals for aircraft manufacturers and Part 135 and 121 air carriers.
Rick has worked as a Public Benefit Flying organization consultant and a volunteer pilot engaged in public benefit flying for over 20 years. Rick was also active in an organization called Lighthawk. LightHawk is a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that provides donated flights to make the aerial perspective freely available to conservation groups.
Rick has taught in Specialized and Advanced Flight Instruction:
- Instruments, skis, floats, multi-engine, aerobatics, public benefit flight ops, flight reviews and instrument proficiency checks.
- He has Over 7,000 hours of flight experience in more than 200 types of aircraft.
Rick is a family man committed to his daughter and his wife. He is a great friend, and to this day he is a master multi-tasker.
He has accomplished many things in his long career, however, I would bet he will count hanging out at the NW T’s as being one of his favorites!
Matt Seamon: Blue Angel
Matt Seamon is our one and only Blue Angel! Our legend!
Matt is a natural. I’ve never met anyone who soaked up pilot skills so easily. Several years ago, Matt invited the Michigan Flyers to join him as VIPs in the Inner Circle Blue Angels’ Performance as he narrated for the first time at the Willow Run Air Show. We were thrilled, talked about it incessantly, and couldn’t wait for the date to arrive. The next year Matt was the one flying those magnificent & spectacular formations. It is not surprising that since his Blue Angels’ fame he has accumulated over 20,000 hours.
Matt joined the Flyers as an undergrad in September of 1976; he was a great CFI, even teaching Suzy who became his wife after graduation. Suzy’s father was a retired airline captain. Matt & Suzy have 3 children Johnny, Tommy and Jenny.
Matt served as president of the Flyers until graduation from U of M (aerospace engineering). Matt, like Dick Hoesli, helped make us all feel like family, comfortable, laughing together, happy to spend unlimited hours at the club. (BTW: This is truly a family reunion!) We did most things together; worked together, flew together, played together. We were all at my house one night & Matt announced he would cook fettuccini alfredo for us. I said, “Matt, where do we start?” Matt said “I don’t know, but I’ll call Mom.” The entire process was dictated by phone. Voila! Fettuccini Alfredo.
One day, shortly after I received my private license, Matt said, “Jayne, let’s jump in and do some instrument approaches at Jackson; you can be my safety pilot. I want to try a DME arc.” Away we went. Matt had never done a DME arc before, nor had I. He impressed the pants off of me doing perfectly flawless arcs.
After one lesson doing aerobatic snap rolls, Matt took me up to show me how to do them. With the horizon on each wing perfectly level, he could return right side up, each wing tip again perfectly level. No wonder he became Top Gun; he was always just amazingly excellent. No wonder he was at the top of his class, able to choose an aircraft no rooky should have been allowed to choose!
He left Michigan to serve in the Navy immediately after graduation and served until June 1995. His Navy highlights include: - Deployed with the first operational F/A-18 Hornet squadron, VFA-113 Stingers (~4,000 hours) - One of the first 50 pilots to carrier-qualify in the F/A Hornet - Carrier deployments on the USS Constellation and USS Nimitz aircraft carriers (Carrier Arrested landings: 600+) - Graduated from US Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) - Narrator, Opposing Solo, Lead Solo US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) 1989, 1990, 1991 - Flew Combat Flight Operations in support of "Operation Southern Watch" Iraqi Southern No-Fly Zone
Matt will join us Friday night, making a brief celebrity appearance, before returning to Southwest Airlines where he has accumulated over 14,500 hours in B-737 Flight Time since June, 1995.
Respectfully submitted, (Love you, Matt), Jayne
Craig Sincock: President and CEO of Avfuel Corporation
Craig Sincock approached aviation like he approaches everything else - "full throttle". Craig came to the club, like so many others, to learn to fly. Once he was bitten by the bug, it was "Katie bar the door". He was off and running.
After his Private he wasted no time in obtaining his instrument rating. Before you knew it he bought an ultra, high performance Piper Apache. His partners in this major investment were Mark Wagner, Dick Hoesli and Mike Bauer - all roommates. All I can say is a lot of togetherness. Wasting no time, these young entrepreneurs leased the airplane to the club and viola, we had a multiengine airplane for rent.
This not being enough aviation for Craig, he then teamed up with Mark Wagner, and they became fuel suppliers at the Ann Arbor Airport called Central States Aviation. Of course, they were kind to the club. I should say, I assume so, as there were no dead bodies. Hoesli as usual, was always the "mother hen" where the club was concerned.
Within not too many years Craig purchased Avfuel, a small, local fuel supplier. Today, Avfuel is the largest independent supplier of aviation fuel in the country. They serve customers worldwide. Boy does this guy like airplanes or what!
Craig's enthusiasm is matched by his generosity. He has always been a supporter of the club and the aviation industry as a whole. Craig and I have been good friends for over thirty years. I can tell you the aviation industry is better off with Craig in it.
I have plenty of colorful flying experiences Craig and I have shared together, but I'll leave those to posterity and firmly sealed in the time capsule.
Craig deserves a huge thank you and applause from all of us at the Michigan Flyers for the discounted Avfue rate, all the special favors, & assistance over the years! Thank you, Craig, from every Michigan Flyer, past & present!
Mike Bauer And Patricia Cleary: Commercial Pilots
Mike Bauer joined the Flyers just before entering grad school. He passed the Private Pilot written before he took his first flying lesson, then went on to obtain a boatload of ratings and instruct at the Flyers. He was a co-owner of the Flyers' infamous Piper Apache, 82P, "Da Pop", having his share of adventures with its notorious heater, funky hydraulic and electrical systems and having the joy of wondering whether the engine he had shut down and feathered for training would restart or present him with a true emergency. In the middle of edits on his dissertation he decided a Ph.D. in computers wasn't for him and he fled the U for professional aviation, first flying cargo in Twin Cessnas and Learjets out of Willow Run and then as an airline pilot with Air Wisconsin from which he will retire less than a week after the Flyers reunion.
Patricia Cleary was one of the original members of the Flyers, and is on its incorporation papers in 1969. She was a flight instructor when she joined the club, coincident with entering a Ph.D. program at the University. She instructed as the Flyers started at McKinnon Airport, moved to Willow Run and finally settled in Ann Arbor Airport, becoming the first tenants of the Northwest Tee Hangars. After earning her Masters, Pat succumbed to the siren song of full-time professional aviation, becoming a corporate pilot in Commanders and Learjets, first in Michigan and then in Texas. She eventually became a DC-9 simulator instructor at American Airlines, rising to the Manager of International Training before she retired.
Finlay Beaton: Chief Flight Instructor
Anonymous Club Member: “Finlay J. Beaton where can I begin.”
Club Questioner: “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Anonymous Club Member: “Finlay arrived at the Michigan Flyers in 1987 with a private and instrument. His aviation pursuits quickly led him to the commercial and CFI in 1988, which he earned at the club. It was clear he liked aviation and being at the airport. Well, before you knew it, he had just kinda’ moved into the place.
He started to supply gourmet coffee, on his dime, as hard as that may be to believe! Before you knew it, between the coffee and Finlay’s, shall we call it Bovine Scatology, the club became the airport “sandbox” for the local pilot population. The club rapidly grew and regained its old enthusiasm.
Before you knew it, Finlay was the Chief CFI and club president. Over the next 15 years he continuously held both positions. He must have really enjoyed his coffee or the club; I’ll leave it to you to decide.
After 10,000 hours of dual given, countless ground schools and endless meetings, and a spotless club safety record, Finlay moved to the next phase of his career.
He took a position as a King Air 350 pilot with a local company. This was followed by a position as a Citiation XL instructor with Flight Safety International out of Toledo. Within six months, he was reassigned to Farnborough, England where he remained for the next two years. By the time he returned to the U.S. he had acquired the Synthetic Flight Instructor with CRMi privileges in the UK, Cessna Citation 560 XL and Gulfstream 450/550 (G5) type ratings. I really don’t know what all that stuff means, but it sounds impressive.
Upon his return from England, Finlay took a position with USA Jet Airlines as a DC-9 instructor and pilot. This guy really likes to teach flying!
Finlay’s aviation journey has come full circle, and he has resumed his duties as the club’s Chief CFI, after more than 20 years.
While the club supplies the coffee now; the camaraderie, enthusiasm for learning and philosophy of safety above all else, are legacies that define the club. They are due in large part to Finlay’s contribution over more than two decades of service.
Club Questioner: “Well Ma’am, I guess that just about wraps it up. Do you have anything else to add?”
Anonymous Club Member: “Yes there is – just one more thing.”
Club Questioner: “What’s that?”
Anonymous Club Member: “Well, uh . . . Boy, he’s a great guy, but he sure is a BIG FLIRT!”
Dick Cupka: Club Mechanic
Dick Cupka came to the U of M Flyers from another aircraft facility at Ann Arbor airport. He fit in perfectly. Not only was Dick a fantastic aircraft mechanic for our Club, but he also has an outstanding personality. He is married to Trish (the Dish). He earned his private at the Flyers & generally added to the great ambiance of the place.
At one time he maintained 13 aircraft, some of which were Cessna 150s, a Cessna Aerobat, a Cessna Cardinal, a Grumman Cheetah, a Beechcraft Debonair, the infamous Apache (so we could all get out multi), then a Baron, a Piper Lance (so we could all get our commercial licenses), and more! Cupka even found time for all of us in the maintenance hangar; he conducted maintenance workshops for us to learn & understand systems.
Dick loved annual trips to Oshkosh; all the planes were filled & plans made for the next year even before the current airshow was finished; X/C requests were placed early in the year. On one trip when several of the pilots were comparing notes about the flights to Oshkosh, I laughed that in the Deb, I had made a checkpoint report to ATC at a certain DME fix. It was VFR so that one was easy (ground visual). Cupka ripped into me because the DME wasn’t even in the a/c. It had been removed for service!! Aircraft mechanic par excellence!
Gladys Post Miller: International Commercial Pilot
Gladys Post Miller, formerly Provenzano
Gladys started flight training in 1977 at the Michigan Flyers. Soon after Soon finished her private, she went to Oshkosh for the Fly In with a group from Flyers. Quote Gladys: “I was addicted to aviation from that point on.”
Gladys was a U of M Flyers Flight Instructor from 1982-1984. Some will remember her hanging out at the NW T’s with her Springer Spaniel Barry.
In 1984 she went to work at ComAir Airlines in Cincinnati Ohio. She flew the EMB-110, SF-340 and CL-65 and enjoyed all the fun of flying around the USA for 23 years.
After retiring from ComAir, Gladys did a tour of A-320 operators and the highlight was flying overseas. She flew for Vietnam Airlines in Ho Chi Minh City and Air Astana in Astana Kazakhstan.
When asked what was her favorite aircraft, her favorite place or favorite job, she said: “Flying the Debonair at the flyers, or flying the Bandit(EMB-110) around the Midwest, or the RJ in the Northeast, or the 320 out of Hanoi, or just hanging out with pilots. It was all fun and wonderful and it all started at the Michigan Flyers.”
Tom Tann: Jet Instructor
Tom’s life work has been devoted to precision and speed. By the time he started his flight training at the Michigan Flyers in 1977 he had already had worked on a winning Indianapolis 500 race team (McLaren 1974). He owned and raced various Alfa Romeos and motorcycles and even ran a racing engine shop. During his active days in the Flyers Tom could often be found at the Ann Arbor Airport northwest T hangars working on his Cessna 140 or an Alfa.
Over the years, T², as his friends call him, obtained his ATP, CFII, MEI, and type ratings in the Learjet, CE-500, CE-650 and CE-750. He instructed at the Flyers and flew freight out of Willow Run Airport before being hired at FlightSafety Toledo to instruct in jets, becoming one of the first designated examiners in the fastest civilian airplane in the world, the Cessna Citation X. His students described him as a serious instructor who inspired them to excel.
Tom recently retired from FlightSafety and still rides performance motorcycles. He has always been a caring and good friend and a truly professional pilot.
Gary Hess: Rock Star
Gary Hess may have appeared to be a mild mannered flight instructor around Michigan Flyers in the late 70’s and 80’s but he has a secret side few people today would suspect.
Oh sure he cut dashing image back in the day: tall, strong and with one of those porn star mustaches popular then. Women were widely known to swoon when he appeared in his Briarwood Shell Softball uniform.
Was it Gary’s mastery of the air that made him special? As a practicing dentist Gary brought the same precision and skills used wielding his dental tools to his handling of airplanes. Gary was often seen in the clubs high performance planes of that era with particular fondness for the Deb, the Lance, the Baron and using the term “high performance” loosely, good old 82P.
The truth is that Gary Hess is our very own Rock Star! In the 60’s Gary teamed up with a singer from Niles MI recording a song that is known by virtually everyone.
The singer was Tommy James, the song was “Hanky Panky” and yes Gary is one of the original Shondells. After a summer of performing, Tommy James had to find a new batch of Shondells to continue the tour as Gary and the rest of the Shondells had to return to High School. Who knows what might have been?
Thirty two years after learning this bit of trivia I continue to think of Gary Hess every time I hear that song and from now on you will too!
"One quick note from Jayne: Gary and I can always lay claim to shutting down a runway at YIP with a bum tire on a Baron!"