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Esko pilot honored for six decades of flying

Robert Sharkey, 79, of Esko is flying high these days.

He was recently honored with the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” award at the Great Minnesota Aviation Gathering in Blaine, Minn. The award was initiated by the Federal Aviation Administration in honor of the Wright Brothers, who designed, built and piloted the first powered airplane.

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The award is presented in recognition of pilots demonstrating “professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years.” Sharkey has far outdistanced that benchmark by flying for 63 years. He has also contributed many years of service to the industry through his nine years as a commissioner for the Carlton County Airport and by flying more than 300 youth, or “Young Eagles,” and introducing them to the world of aviation through EAA’s Young Eagles program. Young Eagles was created by the United States Experimental Aircraft Association in 1992 and provides children between the ages of 8 and 17, an opportunity to experience flight in an airplane while also educating them about the industry. The program is currently chaired by actor/pilot Harrison Ford.

For his recent “Master Pilot” award, Sharkey was written up in the April edition of the Minnesota Flyer magazine.