A Vernon Man Receives the Highest FAA Honor for Pilots

One man out of Wilbarger County is receiving the FAA's highest honor…. The Wright Brothers Award.

That means several decades of service and Kenzie Meek-Beck was at the Wilbarger County Airport and has more.

85 year old Harlan Screws out of Vernon has had a passion for airplanes ever since he was a toddler. 

"The first airplane ride it was in a Ford Tri-Motor …. which that airplane was a three-engine airplane. It was a high wing mono-plane. The airplane landed in Pampa and my dad got to ride it but he could also take one child with him. So I wasn't about three years old and I got to ride in this noisy thing" a pilot and mechanic,Harlan Screws said.

In fact, not only is he a mechanic, but he still flies…. and even collects airplane memorabilia. 

Nats: "That thing right here is a gift to Mary. These thing right here, ok?" 

His father worked on airplanes in Vernon ….. where Harlan started helping out at just 10 years old. 

"Curiosity. curiosity curiosity. curiosity and love. Every thing right there. Just made model airplanes. Widdle airplanes. Whatever" said Harlan.

Harlan then went on to serve in the Air Force…..starting in 1955 as a propeller mechanic….Before going on to become a pilot…. And then after retirement…. becoming a private pilot. 

And today …. He's receiving two honors for all of those years of work….. 

The Wright Brothers Award and the Charles Taylor Award…. which his friends over at the Wilbarger County Airport applied for. 

"And he doesn't have any family left so it leaves it up to friends to take care of those kinds of details. So for the wright brothers award it had to be fellow pilots that wrote those letters" said flight instructor and friend of Harlan, Mary Latimer.

The Wright Brothers Award is the FAA's highest award…. which is 50 years as a pilot with a safe track record…. while the Charles Taylor award honors a mechanic for more than 50 years of work. 

"And I feel really humbled in that I have been given these awards right there. Okay? Kinda makes you feel a little bit smaller" said Harlan.

But life-long friends like Mary Latimer…. who is a flight instructor at the airport….. says there is no one more deserving. 

"Not flying as much as days gone by. But like I said. He'll help anyone that needs it. He would give you the shirt off of his back if you were cold" said Mary.

Harlan said the last time he flew was just about a month ago with one of his buddies.


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