Surprise ceremony held at Champaign Aviation Museum
Nearly 50 family members, friends and fellow pilots crowded into the aviation library before 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Dana Booghier, president of the Champaign County Pilots Association, praised them all for their ability to keep a secret. Unfortunately, Hupman had been asked to undertake a last minute flight to Baltimore, so he was 15 minutes late for his own award ceremony.
Upon entering the Aviation Research and Learning
Center and seeing the crowd, Hupman was momentarily stunned.
"To say that I’m truly overwhelmed is an understatement," he said after receiving the plaque from the Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAAST) program manager Kirk McConnell. "It didn’t really hit me until I walked through that door. All the way up I was racing through the interstates wondering what they could possibly want me to talk about? I was full of ideas about what they might have questions about, but obviously that’s not quite the case this evening for the program.
"So as I came in and I looked at all the people in attendance, of course it finally sunk in," he said. "My career over 50 years has been full of fun. I’ve met a lot of great people, some with the FAA, and of course my family, people I’ve worked with at Aviation Sales — now called First Flight Aviation. As I look around the room at friends and neighbors and so forth … you caught me off guard on this one and I’m really truly overwhelmed and almost speechless on what this represents."
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