2021 Inductees  

Rob Mark

Rob Mark has made his “mark” on the aviation world work as a pilot, teacher, journalist, podcaster, and a blogger. Mark shares his passion for aviation as a contributor to Business and Commercial Aviation and the publisher of the Jetwhine blog.

He returned from four years in the US Air Force and became an FAA air traffic controller first at Pal Waukee Airport (now Chicago Executive Airport) and 10 years at various towers and radar rooms 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 and multi-engine rating at Priester Aviation, and later added his flight instructor ratings at ATE DuPage. He spent a few years as a CFI at PWK and DPA. Madeleine Monaco was one of his first students. He was eventually hired at the original Midway Airlines where he flew until that company shut down in 1992. After Midway closed, Rob enrolled at school Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism earning a master’s degree. He later returned to NU to teach in that same journalism program.

Mark created CommAvia in 1996 as an aviation media company that handled public relations for several airports around the country like Chicago Executive, Dallas Addison, and Oshkosh’s Wittman airport. Realizing how much he missed flying, Rob turned to business jets as a Part 91 media company and Part 135 on-demand charter pilot. In his free time, Rob began writing for aviation media including AOPA Pilot, Air Line Pilot and Flying magazine creating feature stories and pilot reports about a variety of aircraft from LSAs to business jets and even the mighty A380. He was twice awarded the Airbus Aerospace Journalist of the year and twice awarded the NBAA’s Gold Wing award for Outstanding Journalism.

Over the past 15 years, Rob also served as an on-air aviation news analyst for CNN, Fox News, The BBC, and WGN-TV. In 2016 he became senior editor at Flying magazine, a position he left when the magazine was sold to a private investor this summer. He’s now a contributing editor to Business and Commercial Aviation, a part of the Aviation Week Group.

At PWK, Rob served on the board of the Chicago Executive Pilots Association (CEPA) presenting programs at the CEPA and IMC Club monthly meetings. More recently, he led a team of six people to develop an action plan to halt PWK’s efforts to close Runway 6/24. Over the years, Rob’s also volunteered for years at the 99’s Chicago Aviation EXPO and IFR/VFR seminar programs. He also provided photography and publicity for the 99’s Annual Girl Scout Aviation Badge Day. The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame honors Rob Mark for his contributions to aviation journalism and the industry itself on a national as well as his contributions to state-wide 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, Reed’s Fly-On Farming.

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

Reed served as Executive Director of the IAAA for 35 years, retiring in 2018. He had become the liaison between the Agricultural aviation industry and the Illinois Legislature, Department of Agriculture, FAA, Illinois EPA and other Illinois 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 (PURRF) by the U.S. 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, a position reconfirmed every year through 2018, when he formally retired.

Reed mentored individuals seeking to become aerial applicators. Although now retired, 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.

In his 40-year career in aviation, Reed amassed nearly 20,000 hours of flight time and holds a multi-engine Airline Transport Pilot’s certificate. He has been honored on several occasions by his industry and received the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2020.

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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