Young Eagles Volunteer Pilot Recognized for 25 Years of Leadership
Bob Epting receives the Phillips 66 EAA Young Eagles Leadership Award
OSHKOSH, Wis. (July 25, 2019) – A life-long love of aviation and lifetime of leadership make this year’s recipient of the 2019 Phillips 66® Aviation Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles Leadership Award more than deserving. The award, which is announced annually at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, recognizes outstanding Young Eagles volunteers that have supported the future of aviation by going above and beyond the basic Young Eagles flight. This year, the award goes to Bob Epting of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Epting has flown Young Eagles for a quarter of a century – almost since the inception of the program in 1992. He’s flown 3,150 Young Eagles flights, which ranks him No. 4 out of 55,000 volunteer pilots worldwide. Many of the children he’s flown are burn victims from local hospitals.
“I am honored to receive this award for such a wonderful program. Every one of the kids I’ve flown is special to me,” said Epting. “I want to thank everybody at Phillips 66 and EAA for their support of this program. It really is a team effort, and I can think of a lot of people that deserve this award more than me.”
For more than 25 years, Phillips 66 Aviation has proudly sponsored The EAA Young Eagles, an organization whose sole mission is to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation by providing youths ages 8 – 17 their first free ride in an airplane. More than 2 million children have flown through the EAA Young Eagles program with the help of EAA’s network of volunteer pilots and ground volunteers.
“Bob’s an outstanding individual who’s committed to healing and inspiring others, and we’re fortunate he’s doing it through his love of aviation,” said Eric McMurphy, Sales Manager, General Aviation, Phillips 66. “On behalf of the aviation community, I want to thank him for his commitment to the EAA Young Eagles program and congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”
Emotional Healing through the Power of Flight
During his time as a Young Eagles pilot, he established a partnership with the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in which he regularly gave young burn victims their first ride in an airplane.
Epting saw firsthand the power that flight – especially one of his flights – had on the burn victims’ mind and spirit, and the impact that had on their healing process, as they strived to live a normal life again.
Epting encouraged the kids to fly the plane themselves, using the metaphor that as they take control and fly his plane, they can take charge of their treatment and overcome their injuries. What seemed like an insurmountable task, suddenly achievable with a little extra confidence and faith.
“Every one of these kids has left the airport thinking they can do something they never thought they’d do,” said Epting. “That’s incredibly important. It is in the belief that you can heal and live a normal life again.”
Today, the airport that accommodated those Jaycee Burn Center flights no longer operates those rides, but Epting has helped establish similar partnerships between other EAA Chapters, airports and local hospitals around the country.
Born with a Love of Aviation
Epting knew he wanted to be a pilot as early as 4 years old. He earned his pilot license in 1983, and since then, has logged 4,500 hours of flight, all in Piper Cubs, Piper Arrows, and RV-6 and RV-7 aircraft. He travels around the southeast for his work as an environmental lawyer and, of course, for fun. He especially enjoys turning kids into new pilots.
He shares his love of aviation with his twin brother, Jim, a retired lieutenant colonel and former executive officer of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
And although Epting’s an attorney by trade, he’s made a name for himself in the aviation world. In fact, he’s no stranger to receiving awards at Oshkosh. Epting received the Gold Lindy in 2015 for his restored 1946 Piper J3C-65, and in 2001, he received the EAA Young Eagles Humanitarian award.
“My brother and I don’t come from a family of aviators, but I’ve always had an instinct for sticks and rudders – even before I knew what they were,” said Epting. “I am truly honored to receive this award for something I’m so passionate about.”
To learn more about the EAA Young Eagles program, visit eaa.org.
To learn more about how Phillips 66 supports the Young Eagles program, visit phillips66aviation.com.
About Phillips 66 Aviation
Phillips 66 is one of the largest refiners in the United States and a top supplier of jet fuels and avgas to private, commercial and military aviation. Our extensive network of refineries, pipelines and supply terminals translates into secure, cost-effective supply now and in the future. Phillips 66 Aviation supports the nation’s largest branded dealer network. Currently, Phillips 66 Aviation supplies jet fuel and avgas to a network of more than 800 Fixed Base Operations. For more information, visit www.Phillips66Aviation.com and like us on Facebook. Phillips 66 is a trademark of Phillips 66 Company or one of its subsidiaries.
About the Phillips 66 Aviation Young Eagles Rebate
Through the Young Eagles program, Phillips 66 Aviation is committed to spreading awareness and encouraging interest about general aviation among the youth of America. As a proud supporter of the EAA and the Young Eagles program, Phillips 66 continues to provide a $1-per-gallon avgas rebate to all Young Eagles volunteer pilots.
Over 4,000 pilots have used Phillips 66 avgas to introduce more than 2 million kids to the wonders of flight. Because of the avgas rebate, Phillips 66 has helped the Young Eagles program exceed its original goal of one million flights with almost two million flights and counting.