Dammel now a "Master Pilot"
Odessa local Stan Dammel has recently received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. This award, named after the Wright Brothers of early aviation fame, is to recognize individuals who have exhibited skill, professionalism and aviation expertise for at least 50 years piloting an aircraft. The Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots certified under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 61.
To be eligible for this award, nominees must meet certain criteria, including holding a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificate, having 50 or more years of civil and military flying experience (up to 20 years of the required 50 may be U.S. military experience) and being a U.S. citizen. Revocation of any airman certificate will disqualify a nominee for the award.
Dammel started flying on July 7, 1964 with instructor Claude J. Rainey and took his first solo flight on November 30, 1965 at the Odessa Municipal Airport. He later took additional instruction out of Moses Lake in Grant County with instructor Ora Ray Merk and Spokane's Felts Field with a military pilot, Major Lowell Warren. Warren signed off on his checkride on July 27, 1977, which he promptly took and passed that same day with Jim Kiernan. A checkride is a practical test flight leading to an endorsement for additional flight privileges.
He received his commercial license on March 5, 1981 and in 2008 completed his instrument rating, a license or rating given to a pilot authorized to do instrument flying.
Dammel and his wife Debby, also a pilot, currently own a Beechcraft J 35 Bonanza in which he stays proficient by donating his time and plane to local fund-raising efforts and to Angel Flights (he has over 120 flights), taking patients in need to distant locations for medical treatment.
He has flown numerous counter-drug missions with the Civil Air Patrol and currently has over 3900 hours of total flight time. He also teaches Aerospace Education at the Civil Air Patrol in Ephrata.
"I'm always trying to learn more about flying and always working to be a better instrument pilot," Dammel says. "Safety is number one. I always get the weather reports, preflight, use a checklist, never let myself be in a "have to get home" position and make sure I always have a way out."
He currently flies with instructors Lew Mason, an F-18 pilot in Moses Lake, and John Swedberg, recently retired head instructor for the Big Bend Community College flight program. A pilot's education is never finished. He adds, "Don't rush. If it doesn't seem right, don't move. Get it right. Keep the tanks full, stay out of bad weather and keep learning. The older I get the more I realize, I have a lot more to learn."