Airport: In good shape

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

HONORED FOR 50 YEARS OF AVIATION SAFETY — at the Eastern Slope Airport Authority’s annual dinner on Aug. 19 was Robert F. Mahanor, (at left) who was presented a commemorative framed certificate by Bill Gianetta, (at right), Operations Unit Supervisor for the Federal Aviation Administration office in Portland. (Ackley Photo)

FRYEBURG — The art and business of flying are in very good shape at the local airport, Eastern Slope Airport Authority Chairman Don Thibodeau told attendees at the recent annual dinner held inside a hangar here.

Earlier this year, Mary Build, owner and operator of Western Maine Aviation LLC, was named the ESA’s new fixed base operator.

Thibodeau said Aug. 19, “We’ve made a giant leap forward, with our new FBO (Fixed Base Operator). We are very proud and lucky to have Mary here with us. She has great credentials in the shop and a good background. Both mechanics have turbine (engine) experience. She’s done a great job of manning the office. She’s running a fabulous FBO,” he said, praising “the enthusiasm she brings.”

Announcing that the airport is going to be offering Jet- A fuel, Chairman Thibodeau stated, “Now we’re going to give Mary an opportunity to take this airport another step. Some of you may have seen the Jet-A fuel tank outside. We found a tractor-trailer to haul it home from Salmon, Idaho.”

Thibodeau said the Eastern Slope Airport would be offering Jet-A fuel, beginning this week.

Mary Build told of how she had her first plane ride with local pilot Tom Shaffner 20 years ago at the Eastern Slope Airport and enjoyed flying so much she went on to make it her life’s love and work.

“First of all, I have wonderful people working for me,” Build told the attendees.

Build then explained, “We are trying to introduce the airport to the public,” by holding different special events. “We had an ice sculpturing contest, then a ‘Women in Aviation Day’ offering a free lesson for any woman interested; on Aviation Day we flew 175 people for $15 a piece and then donated the $500 to ACE Camp (Aviation Career Education). We have also had three sessions of private pilot ground school with another one starting in September. More events include a safety seminar, poker run and a flying treasure hunt. Thanks to all the volunteers and employees who have helped make this possible.”

50 years of aviation safety

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of a prestigious award to local aviator Robert F. Mahanor, who received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from Bill Gianetta, the Operations Unit Supervisor for the FAA’s Portland office.

The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years. Recipients are awarded a certificate and a lapel pin and are recognized in the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award Roll of Honor located online at

The certificate presented to Mr. Mahanor says: “In recognition of your contributions to building and maintaining the safest aviation system in the world through practicing and promoting safe aircraft for 50 consecutive years.”

Thank you, Marty

ESAA Chairman Thibodeau singled out Fryeburg resident Marty Engstrom who has been involved with the airport for almost 50 years.

“Marty installed the airport’s Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) (air navigation) system in 1963, and he has maintained it, ever since,” Thibodeau said. “We hope he stays with us as long as the NDB stays with us.”

Thibodeau also recognized 93-year-old Howard K. Dearborn, who founded Dearborn Aviation and other corporations and who has been a longtime supporter of the ESAA.

“Our oldest Eagle, Howard Dearborn, is here tonight,” Thibodeau said.

Please follow and like us: