Recreational Aviation Foundation names executive director

Following a nationwide search, the board of directors of the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) have named Carl Hicks as its first executive director.

Truly a recreational pilot, Hicks, 58, of Gig Harbor, Wash., received his private pilot license in August 1975, and has several thousand hours of flight experience. After retiring from his first career as a combat decorated, U.S. Army Airborne Ranger Officer, Carl pursued a successful career in business, attaining the COO, CEO positions in diverse companies from start-up size to nationwide.

Carl Hicks RAF Using aspects of his business experience on the non-profit side, he helped build the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) from a small little-known patient organization into one that is revered internationally with thousands of members around the world. Currently serving as the immediate past chair of the PHA board, Hicks has extensive lobbying experience on Capitol Hill. A key vote required visiting 115 congressional offices in a 1-½ day period which ended with the bill passing.

“One of my fondest memories in aviation was that of taking a date for a picnic before the ink was dry on my private ticket to a beautiful little grass strip alongside Pleasant Hill Reservoir near my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio,” says Hicks. “It was a state-owned strip that now sadly, like so many others, has vanished forever from the charts. The Recreational Aviation Foundation exists solely to prevent this from occurring in the future, preserving, maintaining and creating safe recreational airfields, and providing recreational opportunities for generations to come. I am deeply honored to be selected and am deeply committed to this endeavor.”

Hicks is a longtime member of the AOPA, EAA, International Cessna 180-185 Club, and an active volunteer in the Young Eagles with several hundred missions flown in his Cessna 180A. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from The Ohio State University. Contact him at

The RAF is one of the fastest growing general aviation organizations in the country. An airfield advocacy and conservation group, it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation with active volunteers in all 50 states. Its mission is “Keeping the legacy of recreational aviation strong by preserving, maintaining and creating public use recreational and backcountry airstrips nationwide.

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