MT. ZION, Ill. (WCIA) — A pilot who’s dedicated over 50 years of safe flight has been presented with an award Monday.

Jim Gould served in the US Army, Army reserves and Army National Guard. He served as an emergency medical services pilot until 2015. Later in his career, he flew for Air Evac, a medical unit.

“This was a fine job that I thoroughly enjoyed and honestly never thought it would last 50 years,” says Gould.

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was instituted by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on October 11, 2003, to recognize pilots who have practiced safe flight operations continuously for 50 or more years during the course of their aviation careers.

The award consists of a certificate and a pin and consolidates other aviation awards presented by the FAA district offices.

Eligibility for the award includes:

  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States during the entire 50-year period covered
  • 50 years of piloting experiencing, dating to the applicant’s first solo flight, during which the pilot must have been certified by either the FAA or the United States Civil Aviation Authority

The award was presented by fellow pilot and 20-year friend, Randy Ottinger. Ottinger is FAA Safety team program manager of the St. Louis Flight Standards District office.

Gould’s wife Sharon was also recognized with a pin for her support of her husband’s flight career.

Sharon and James Gould

“Jim was deployed to various locations including Vietnam. He was also part of a team that self-deployed from Decatur to Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Storm/ Desert Shield,” says Mrs. Gould.