Last month, Range Regional Airport was the proud host of a truly special ceremony. In recognition of his decades of excellence in the field of flight, the FAA's exclusive Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was given to Hibbing's own Keith Knopp. Nominated by many of the pilots who formerly and currently fly out of Range Regional Airport, this marks Keith as truly being among the best of the best.
What It Means to Be A Master Pilot
The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most exclusive and prestigious that the FAA gives out. To even be nominated, one must have at least fifty years of flying experience, either private or military and a flight record free of a serious incident. Only 118 Minnesota pilots have ever qualified for the award, and Keith is the first from here in Hibbing.
About Keith Knopp the Pilot
Keith Knopp exemplified everything the FAA looked for in a Master Pilot. His love of flying started at a very young age, witnessing a plane landing on his family's lake in 1935 when he was only three. After growing up, he joined the Air Force and served on a KB-29 tanker, although not as a pilot. He did not become a certified pilot until after his term was out, first gaining his certification in 1956.
In 1960, he returned to Hibbing and became a regular sight at Range Regional Airport (then called the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport) for most of his career. He flew a wide variety of aircrafts, both commercially and privately, and was an inspiration to everyone who flew alongside him. When he wasn't taking passengers or giving lessons, he was probably up in his own 1947 415-D Ercoupe.
Range Regional Airport Is Proud
Keith was able to attend the presentation in person, along with his wife and many long-time friends. Pilots, trainers, and administrators from Range Regional Airport were there as well, sharing stories of their respect for him. As our own flight instructor Terry Hocking said, “Keith is 25 years older than I am, and I get in an airplane with him and he just inspires me with the way he flies it ... As a flight instructor, I learn something every time I fly with you.”
Our hats are off to Master Pilot Keith Knopp, and we wish him many more years of adventures in the sky.
Please, contact Range Regional Airport for flight information and aviation news.