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Hilton Head Island Airport Flight Instructor and Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award Recipient Named District Honoree for 2020 General Aviation Flight Instructor of the Year

Hilton Head Island Airport Flight Instructor and Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award Recipient Named District Honoree for 2020 General Aviation Flight Instructor of the Year

Hilton Head Island resident Charles “Chuck” Copley was recently awarded as the District Honoree for 2020 General Aviation Flight Instructor of the Year at the South Carolina Aviation Association Conference held at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island. Mr. Copley is also a recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.

As a flight instructor for more than 50 years, Mr. Copley was nominated by a flight examiner who observed how well qualified his students were. Mr. Copley’s love of flying began as a child watching his father who was a pilot for the now defunct Pan American Airlines. He flew while in college and upon graduation, while looking for a pilot’s job, the recession of the 1970s hit so he became a charter pilot.

While a charter pilot, Mr. Copley flew such notables as Jacqueline Kennedy, His Holiness Terence Cardinal Cooke, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, and his favorite passengers by his own admission, the 1960s rock group The Band. The Band, a Canadian-American group is known for such hits as “The Weight” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

As a recipient of the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, Mr. Copley is recognized for his 50 years of piloting experience with a perfect safety record.

“I like to refer to my love of flying as a disease,” said Mr. Copley. “Once you are infected, you are infected for life. I’m most proud of my years working as an instructor at Hilton Head Island Airport. Local residents who are my students become licensed pilots, who then purchase their own planes locally, purchase fuel at the airport, rent hangar space at the airport—all of which helps Hilton Head Island Airport keep expanding and keep our local economy healthy.”

“When I became Airport Director, Chuck was one of the first people I met from the General Aviation community,” said Jon Rembold. “He has been a resource for me to better understand the needs of flight training operations and he has been a stalwart supporter of the work we’ve done to improve the airport. All of us at the airport are so very proud of Chuck and all that he has contributed to aviation. He’s a humble and worthy recipient of these honors.”


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