MISSOULA — In airport hangers is where you will almost always find Peter Graf, a retired Air Force and commercial airline pilot who is now a current Missoula Civil Air Patrol member. And if that resume wasn’t impressive enough, he is now a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award winner.
The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is given by the Federal Aviation Administration to US citizen pilots who hold an FAA pilot certification.
“To make it as far as this man has and any other pilot that flies, there's two words," said Jeff Vercoe, Monatana FAA saftey program manager, about Graf. "Forward Thinking. It's called safety. If you don't think forward, you're not going to have safety and without that, you don't make it very far.”
The requirements to obtain this award are extensive, but the most important being that the recipient has exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for 50 years.
“It's quite an honor," said Graf. "I mean, I never thought anything about this. When I started here 51 years ago in September of 1970, and I just couldn't wait to fly.”
And in his first flight log book, for his first flight, the letters MSO are etched in the book, marking his first wheels up flight in Missoula.
Graf spent 28 years in the Air Force, 12 years flying commercial for Sky West and 22 years volunteering his time as a flight instructor for the Civil Air Patrol Missoula Squadron.
Each year brought a new set of experiences and lessons with them, but the most important was combining his passion and purpose together.
“It's quite an honor to have that and realize that I'm still not done," Graf told MTN News.
Graf is now a permanent part in the history of flying. And to this day, he has logged over 17,000 hours of flight time.