Surprise ceremony held at Champaign Aviation Museum
Upon entering the Aviation Research and Learning Center and seeing the crowd, Hupman was momentarily stunned.
"To say that I’m truly overwhelmed is an understatement," he said after receiving the plaque from the Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAAST) program manager Kirk McConnell. "It didn’t really hit me until I walked through that door. All the way up I was racing through the interstates wondering what they could possibly want me to talk about? I was full of ideas about what they might have questions about, but obviously that’s not quite the case this evening for the program.
"So as I came in and I looked at all the people in attendance, of course it finally sunk in," he said. "My career over 50 years has been full of fun. I’ve met a lot of great people, some with the FAA, and of course my family, people I’ve worked with at Aviation Sales — now called First Flight Aviation. As I look around the room at friends and neighbors and so forth … you caught me off guard on this one and I’m really truly overwhelmed and almost speechless on what this represents."
According to the nomination form, Hupman performed his first solo flight on Sept. 13, 1968, in a Cessna 150, and his highest grade of pilot certificate was as an airline transport pilot. His flight experience includes 20,400 hours, the majority as pilot in-command, with 1,530 hours of flight instruction given.
Hupman is currently a professional pilot and consultant and says he has no plans to retire.
"It is certainly a wonderful feeling to look out at all those faces and sort of have it all come together after all those years in flying," he said. "I’m not done yet."
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304