Written by RACHEL GAST Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 13 May 2013 09:32
The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded Cygnet-resident Frank Coulter with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for working as an aviation mechanic for 55 years, and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for his exemplary service and devotion to aviation safety for 56 years.
|Frank "Dick" Coulter is a veteran pilot and airplane mechanic who recently received two awards for his 50 years including as a "master pilot." (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
His wife, Iola Coulter, also received an award as thanks for her devotion to her husband and her support during Frank's aviation career. The two proudly display the plaques on their wall.
The Coulters still own the plane Frank's father bought in 1953.
"I've rebuilt it twice, recovered it and overhauled the engine. I'm a mechanic, I keep it working," he said, chuckling. Coulter remembers when his father would let him pilot the plane so he wouldn't feel sick.
He took his first airplane ride in 1952, sitting between his father's legs in a side by side two-place plane. A few months later, his father bought the 1946 Aeronca Champion plane, model number 7AC, for $600.
Flight instructor Nick Parish, of Southern Airways in Boardman, administered Coulter's flight test in 1957. "I was 19 when I got my private rating and 14 when my dad bought the Champion," he said.
Coulter joined the Air Force in 1958 as a mechanic, having decided "if I wanted to own an airplane, I better learn how to fix them."
After his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1962, Coulter earned his bachelor's in agricultural dducation and a master's in education. In 1978 he stopped teaching and became a full-time aircraft mechanic. The next year, he received his inspection authorization from the FAA.
"I have done as many as 65 annual inspections in a year, and still do a dozen of them each year."
Ronald Coleman of BGSU said, "Many of us depend on him for our flight reviews, additional training, and maintenance."
Along with the Master Mechanic and Master Pilot Awards, the FAA has given Coulter seven commercial ratings, seven CFI ratings, and Airframe and Power Plant Mechanic ratings.
Coulter retired from managing the Wood County airport in 2003, but continues to take weekly flights in his plane. Coulter has flown helicopters, the Aeronca, T-34's, Tri-Champs, a Cessna 172 Supercub, Lear jets, DC-3's, a Sanyo Blimp and a Comanche 250. He has earned Gyroplane and Single Engine Seaplane ratings.
Coulter has sold nearly 10,000 helicopter rides in the decade he owned a Bell 47 helicopter. "I currently have more than 7,856 hours of flight time."
He has flown from New Jersey to California, from New Mexico to Ontario, and through the five provinces of Canada to Alaska.
He still teaches a handful of students each year to fly and stores his Aeronca Champion at his private air strip near Cygnet.
Coulter's son, Lance, a fellow pilot, wrote in one of Frank's numerous recommendation letters for the FAA awards that his father "taught me to fly and is also passing the love and ability to fly on to my two boys. He has trained countless people to fly and has shared his passion for flying with them."
Coleman added that he is "always impressed with Frank Coulter's mastery of crosswind landings … he has the touch of a natural pilot."