2021 Inductees  

Rob Mark

Rob Mark has made his “mark” on the aviation world work as a writer, editor and blogger. Currently Senior Editor for Flying magazine, and publisher of Jet Whine blog, Mark shares his passion for aviation with all of us.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Rob Mark returned from four years of service in Viet Nam to become an air traffic controller at Palwaukee Airport (now Chicago Executive Airport) in Wheeling Illinois. He worked for the FAA for 10 years as a controller and then as a supervisor.

Mark earned his private pilot certificate at the old Sky Harbor Airport, and then while working as a controller completed his instrument, commercial license and multi-engine training with Priester Aviation, and then added on his certified flight instructor airplane, instrument and multi-engine at DuPage. He began flying business jets from Palwaukee and Waukegan Airports, both as a Part 91 pilot and as an on-demand Part 135 charter pilot. He later flew turboprops for the original Midway Airlines out of Midway Airport. While gaining all of this experience in aviation, Rob Mark also wrote articles for aviation publications.

After Midway Airlines closed, Rob Mark decided to return to school, earning a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He later returned to Northwestern for six years to teach in the journalism program. Needing to reduce his flying time and use his writing skills, Mark created CommAvia, a media company that handled public relations for a number of airports around the country. CommAvia handled public relations for Chicago Executive Airport (formerly Palwaukee Airport) between 2002 -2007 and again from 2013- 2018. During this time period, he created an educational outreach program between the airport and the local high school district.

During the CommAvia years, Mark continued to write articles for AOPA Pilot, Air Line Pilot and Flying magazines. After 25 years in the public relations business, Mark closed CommAvia to accept a position as senior editor with Flying magazine, more recently acting as the magazine’s editor in chief. In 2009 and 2018, he received the NBAA’s Gold Wing award for Outstanding Journalism.

On a local note, Mark has served on the board of the Chicago Executive Pilots Association (CEPA) for several years, presenting programs for pilots at the CEPA monthly meetings and their IMC Club meetings. Most recently, he lead a team of six people in developing a plan of action and providing constant public pressure to convince the airport board of Chicago Executive Airport not to close Runway 6/24. He also provides support for the 99s Chicago Aviation EXPO and IFR/VFR seminar programs, and has provided photography and publicity for the 99s Annual Girl Scout Aviation Badge Day on several occasions.

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame honors Rob Mark for his contributions to aviation journalism on a national level, and his local Illinois contributions to aviation programs and the Chicago Executive Pilots Association.


John Richard (Rick) Reed

For over 40 years, Rick Reed has been the voice of agricultural aviation in the state of Illinois. Raised on a farm in Ashmore, Illinois, Reed earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois in 1970. He then served as a U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer until 1975, when he returned to Illinois and started his agricultural flying business, Rick’s Fly-On Farming.

As he gained experience in aerial application, it became clear to Reed that a strong, united voice was essential for the agricultural aviation to thrive and gain respect. He joined the Illinois Agricultural Aviation Association (IAAA) and by 1982, had held all of the offices in IAAA and was elected to the National Agricultural Aviation Association. In 1983 the IAA created the non-expiring position of Executive Director for Reed to expand his leadership of the association and the agricultural aviation industry. It was a non-paying position.

Reed served as Executive Director of IAAA for 35 years, retiring in 2018. He became the liaison between the agricultural aviation industry and the Illinois Legislature, Department of Agriculture, Illinois EPA and other state regulatory agencies. He lobbied in Springfield, testified in legislative hearings and helped write key legislation pertaining to the industry. He is a recognized expert on aerial applications for Illinois agriculture.

Reed’s commitment to the industry was felt at the national level as well. He served as Vice President and later, President of the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA). He was on the Board of Directors of NAAA for a total of 15 years. He also served two years as a Director of the National Agricultural Aviation Research and Education Foundation (NAAREF). He was appointed to the National pesticide User’s Research and Regulatory Forum (PURF) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in 1988, and also served at the request of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to help design a national exam for licensing aerial applicators. He has served on the selection board of the National Agricultural Aviation Museum Hall of Fame, and was elected Chairman in 1994 and reconfirmed every year through 2018, when he formally retired.

Reed mentored individuals seeking to become aerial applicators. He is still on the list of recommended mentors offered by the National Agricultural Aviation Association, and a number of his mentees have become aerial applicators and run successful spraying businesses.

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame honors Rick Reed for his contributions to Illinois aviation, and for his service in agricultural aviation at both the state and national level.


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