CJP Member Don Lockard Recognized with Wright Brothers Award for 50 Years of Safe Flying
by CJP Newsletters Editor Rob Finfrock
CJP member Don Lockard was honored recently with the FAA’s distinguished Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, in recognition of his 50 years of safe flying and aircraft operations. And pardon the pun, but such an honor does not happen by accident.
“One lesson that’s always stuck with me came from my very first flight instructor,” Lockard recalled. “He absolutely drilled into me that you must make the plane do what you want it to do; don’t let it do what it wants to do.”
Like many CJP members, Lockard began flying single-engine Cessnas before moving into cabin-class aircraft, then high-performance single turboprops like the Piper PA46 Meridian and ultimately owner-flown jets.
He took delivery of his Citation Mustang in 2009, the latest plane he’s flown in support of his company, National Socket Screw Manufacturing of Beamsville, Ontario.
“My wife, Jane, is also a pilot,” Lockard said. “Once we decided to start using our aircraft for business, we also realized the added exposure to risk. Any plane we flew needed to be FIKI-certified, and either currently still in production or with a strong parts and support network behind it.”
That cautious mindset also developed from Lockard’s time working at Bendix-King as an electrical engineer shortly after graduating from Georgia Tech. Among his projects was developing the now-common underwing radar pod seen on many piston and turboprop singles.
While flying for business frequently exposes Lockard to more demanding and challenging conditions, “those things don’t make you safer or a better pilot,” he said. “It does put you in the position to better determine what is acceptable, though.
“If I don’t like the hours or weather, I don’t go that day,” Lockard continued. “We’ve cancelled many trips and gone commercial instead or waited days for better conditions. The risk is simply too high to do anything stupid.”
Lockard also benefitted from his time flying with Bob Scott, developer of the PA46 and “a training guru.” When away from the flight deck, he also emphasized the important safety benefits of participating in industry gatherings and in candid discussions with other owner-operators.
“The CJP member forums provide an open exchange of information and allow us to ask questions in a safe environment,” he said. “As long as people have openness and confidence to ask the question without fear of condemnation, it’s a phenomenal resource.
“Until COVID locked us down, we always attended CJP and other conventions,” he continued. “Jane and I attend the sessions where you get to talk and learn with others. You can’t get that anywhere else. It is a phenomenal safety resource.”
In summarizing his approach to flight, Lockard cited a quote by USAF colonel, NASA astronaut and former Eastern Airlines chairman Frank Borman that hangs on his office wall near a cherished photo of his Citation Mustang.
“‘A superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill,'” he concluded. “First and foremost, all pilots must continually work to overcome our ‘Type A’ personalities and always be focused on doing what is safe.”