On March 15 I opened my email and found the following message from Stephanie Smith: “Many years ago (2012 to be exact), my husband, Dennis, and I met you during the Minam Airlift, based in Joseph, Oregon, to deliver supplies to Minam Lodge. My husband was president of the Oregon Pilots Association at the time, a role Mary Rosenblum took over as a result of the organization’s normal election process. Mary took her love of general aviation, along with skills and experience from her life interests, and became one of the strongest, most knowledgeable advocates for general aviation I’ve ever known, in her role as president and beyond.
“Even being involved in aviation in my personal, educational, and career pursuits, I have yet to meet another who would personally go to the level she did to understand the problems — and potential solutions — facing Oregon aviation. Her loss this past Sunday (March 11) in a plane crash near Daybreak Field in southwest Washington is a tremendous blow to Oregon aviation, and general aviation, as her research and thoughts were openly shared with others around the country facing similar battles as Oregon aviation. If there is any chance, perhaps you can write a story on her for GA News, recognize the impact she’s had on our aviation community and perhaps encourage others of the difference one person can make.”
I was left stunned by reading that email.
I last saw Mary walking down the aisle at the Northwest Aviation Conference in Puyallup, Wash., on Feb. 24, lost in conversation with the person she was walking with. Sadly, for me, I elected to not interrupt her.
My most profound memory of Mary is her encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of state rules and regulations. She could cite chapter and verse for aviation and airport-related rules and regulations like no one I’ve ever met.
But others knew Mary far better than I so it makes more sense to let their words tell part of Mary’s story.
Dennis Smith, Past President, Oregon Pilots Association
I first met Mary Rosenblum back in 2011 as we planned for that year’s Oregon Pilots Association annual convention. She was a popular member from the Troutdale Chapter, flew an easily recognizable purple Cessna 152, and from the beginning established herself as a very important asset to the organization.
As I began my two years as President of OPA, Mary volunteered to be the President Elect. That was the beginning of several years of quarterly board meetings, annual conventions, and other airport events together. We also spent a few years in a row manning the OPA booth at the Northwest Aviation and Trade Show in Puyallup, Wash.
At every event Mary was integral. Mary always invited people into the world of aviation, to be involved with OPA, to see what general aviation is and does for us all. She was a truly tireless voice for GA in Oregon. She was well researched and well spoken.
She defended the interests of GA on several fronts. When the Troutdale Airport was threatened by potential thermal plumes in the traffic pattern, Mary organized and led the opposition that avoided the construction that would have emitted the plumes. When the Hillsboro Airport was targeted by anti-aviation fanatics, Mary voiced reasoned and logical arguments at local public meetings that defused the situation and exposed the anti-airport group for what it was.
Maybe Mary’s biggest accomplishment was one that affected GA throughout the entire state of Oregon. When faced with a very underfunded Department of Aviation, that was having difficulty keeping up with the regular maintenance of some of the state’s airports, she almost single-handedly organized a coalition of organizations and local governments to get a new fuel tax passed on commercial aviation which provided much needed revenue to ODA.
Mary sent out a regular email called “Places to Fly.” It contained many aviation events, fly-ins, and GA news. It was responsible for improving participation at many regional events.
Of all this, I can unequivocally state that Mary Rosenblum, in my opinion, was the most important and effective voice for general aviation in the State of Oregon in the past decade, perhaps longer.
And she was my friend. I will miss her greatly.
Vetrichelvan Jayaprakasan, Friend
Mary Rosenblum was an award winning author, avid flyer and a passionate advocate of general aviation (GA) in Oregon. She was an inspiration to many pilots and writers. She served as President-Elect, President and Vice President of the Oregon Pilot Association (OPA). On March 11, 2018, around 1 pm while coming in for landing at Daybreak Airfield (WA46), her Piper Super Cub airplane crashed and she died at the scene of accident. She was the sole occupant in the plane. She was 65 years old. Her sudden death shocked the general aviation (GA) and writing community.
Mary Rosenblum was President-Elect of Oregon Pilot Association in 2012. Every month, Mary sent out an email titled, “Places to Fly.” She wrote about important issues such as the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA) that faced shortage of funds to maintain small airports, reducing taxes on avgas and aviation politics that affects GA.
She was very concerned about the closure of small airports. She believed that small airports have a strong economic value which benefits rural counties and small towns. Often she would say, it is small airports that create future pilots for major airlines, for the military and bring local jobs. She also wrote about fun stuff such as beautiful places to fly, prevailing weather conditions and upcoming fly-in events.
Mary was a valuable source of inspiration for many pilots. She started learning to fly in her 50s and she received her Private Pilot certificate at the age of 57.
She was a strong advocate of pilot safety. I remember, in 2012, she sent out an email informing us about a proposed thermal plant to be built near Troutdale Airport (KTTD). Mary strongly protested that it will pose grave danger to pilots who fly out of Troutdale Airport.
Mary explained that the proposed power plant would directly come beneath the downwind pattern on the old Reynolds Aluminum plant site.
She testified against the proposal during the hearing and as a result of her testimony, the proposed power plant was not built. She would always say, “We have to protect ourselves and our airports. No one else is going to do for us.”
Mary was also a compelling spokesperson against the closure of Cascade Locks Airport (KCZK). The Cascade Locks Airport was established by Washington and Oregon Department of Aeronautics to provide a safe place to land for pilots who are caught in the Gorge’s rapidly changing weather condition. As a result, many pilots are alive today because of this airport (KCZK). Mary’s argument was that the Cascade Locks Airport (KCZK) has an important value as it plays a great role in the safety of pilots.
She was an accomplished award-winning author who wrote and published science fiction novels and nonfiction books. She won the Compton Crook Award in 1993 for Best First Novel, “The Drylands.” In 2009, she won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.”
In addition, she offered services in content editing, publishing and marketing. She helped many writers to publish their first book. Her knowledge of contracts, editing and writing was very helpful to newbie writers trying to publish their first book. While helping new writers, Mary was professional, honest and very thorough.
Mary’s significant work in the world of GA and Writing will continue to be alive and inspire many pilots and writers to pursue their dreams.
We miss you, Mary!
I couldn’t say it better myself. Godspeed Mary.