OSHKOSH, Wis. – Phillips 66 Aviation revealed that this year’s Leadership Award winner is Fred Stadler, a year-round volunteer for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Stadler reached an unprecedented milestone in July when he flew his 6,000th Young Eagle, setting the record for the most volunteer flights by any pilot participant in the program.
“Fred’s above-and-beyond contributions to the EAA Young Eagles program made him the clear recipient for this year’s Leadership Award,” said Greg Hart, Manager, General Aviation. “On behalf of Phillips 66 Aviation, I want to congratulate Fred for his contributions to the future of general aviation.”
Stadler began volunteering for the EAA approximately 30 years ago and particularly enjoys flying Young Eagles, a program which began in 1992. Today he is actively involved with Oshkosh’s EAA Chapter 252, serving as its treasurer. He assists with aircraft maintenance at EAA’s Weeks hangar, including work on the Pioneer Airport GlaStars and biplane aircraft.
In addition, Stadler is the volunteer chairman responsible for the AirVenture NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), a booklet that outlines aircraft arrival/departure procedures, radio frequencies, Wittman Regional Airport details and more. During AirVenture he can be found on the taxiways directing the heavy flow of air traffic at the event, which attracts more than 10,000 aircraft.
After retirement, Stadler and his wife, Carol, also an EAA volunteer, permanently moved from Arlington, Texas, to Oshkosh to be closer to EAA headquarters. A longtime Cessna 310 owner, Stadler previously worked as a software manager for IBM. Many years after earning a math degree from Stanford University, he returned to school to earn an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) certification, largely to complete the maintenance on the family’s aircraft and to pursue his passion.
When asked if he has one particularly memorable flight, Stadler fondly recounts a few enjoyable experiences. While every child who participates in the program is different, all walk away with a positive experience and a photograph to help maintain the memory of their EAA Young Eagles flight long into their life.
“Right after a takeoff, one little girl just said, ‘Wow, I never knew the world was so big,’” recounts Stadler. “It’s my hope that even if a child doesn’t become a pilot, they will appreciate general aviation for the rest of their lives. They’re just so smart and capable of so much.”
Stadler believes that it’s important for each child to envision themselves as a pilot, and not a passenger. That’s why he lets each Young Eagle take the controls during the flight as much as possible. Overall he has two objectives he wants them to take away from the experience:
- Aviation is fun.
- Developing the skills needed to fly is very attainable.
“Volunteering for the EAA Young Eagles program is a personally rewarding contribution that helps to positively influence the public’s opinion of general aviation and hopefully inspires the next generation of pilots,” said Stadler.