MISSOULA — Airport hangers is where you will almost always find Peter Graf, a retired Air Force officer and commercial airline pilot, and a current 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 awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration to pilots who hold a FAA pilot certification and have been flying for at least 50 years.
“To make it as far as this man has in and 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 fligh, the letters MSO are etched in the book, marking his first wheels-up flight, right here 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 in Missoula.
Each venture brought a new set of experiences and lessons with them. But the most important - 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 more than 17,000 hours of flight time.