Duncan Aviation’s Bartlett Wins FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award


Duncan Aviation announced today (March 29) that its senior captain, Larry Bartlett, has received the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. The award is the agency’s most prestigious for pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 and “recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft.”

Raised on his family’s farm in Gothenburg, Nebraska, Bartlett would climb to the top of the windmill and watch airplanes arriving and departing from a nearby airport. He wrote his senior paper in high school on agricultural flying, having watched aerial applicators from his roost at the top of the windmill from a young age. After entering the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, he discovered skydiving, which continues to be a passion. He began flying lessons in 1971 and soloed with eight hours logged, earning his private license at 39.1 hours.

His first professional flight after earning his commercial certificate (at 188 hours) was transporting ag chemicals from Salina, Kansas, to his home airport in Gothenburg. As he built up ratings, he joined the ranks of instructor pilots, charter pilots and even agricultural pilots, learning to spray crops from a Piper Pawnee.

In 1982, Bartlett moved his family to Lincoln, where he won the job of chief flight instructor for Duncan Aviation’s flight school. When the school closed in 1985, he became Duncan Aviation Flight Department’s chief pilot. 

Bartlett joins Duncan Aviation Chairman Emeritus Robert Duncan, previous Duncan Aviation pilot David Moll, and the late Harry Barr as the company’s proud Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recipients. 

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Funny true story.

    One of my patients, now nearly 100, remains an active pilot.

    He has been flying for about 80 years and a zillion hours now and a few years ago received an award form the FAA for 75 years of safe flying.

    Shortly after receiving the award he hit a poplar tree while blinded by the setting sun and crashed his Taylorcraft on short final at his home field.

    He broke multiple bones, but lived to fly again.

    When I saw him for his medical after the crash he told me about 75 year award saying,

    ” Guess I won’t get another of those.”


    • Great story William – nothing like that one moment that caught him off guard – of course after 75 years, I’m sure he’s had a couple of close calls too.