Maurice Sugden, Hallock, Minn., holds the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and his certificate for over 50 years of flying accident free given to him Nov. 21. Sugden is standing next to his Piper PA12 Super Cruiser.
(Photo courtesy of Megan Sugden Photography)
By Margie Holmgren
George Maurice Sugden, Hallock, Minn., was honored with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at a presentation Nov. 21, 2017.
The award is given to pilots who hold a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificate, have 50 or more years of civil and military flying experience, is a U.S. Citizen and has not had any airman certificate revoked.
Sugden, who has been flying for 67 years, was given the award at a ceremony which had all his children present along with many friends and fellow pilots.
Presenting the award to Sugden was Jay M. Flowers, Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team (FAAST) Program Manager from Fargo, N.D.
Sugden’s interest in flying started when he was a teenager watching the daily airplane activity at the Hallock airport. The sound of Dr. R.A. Knutson’s six-cylinder engine in his Stinson 108-2 airplane enticed Sugden further and he began flying lessons.
He took a couple of flights with Robert Younggren who managed the local airport before getting lessons from LaMar Anderson, Hallock.
After only 6.4 hours of instruction, Sugden soloed on Nov. 24, 1950 in a 1946 Piper J3C-65 Cub, N88593.
“Maurice flew as often as he could but sometimes lessons became father apart than desired because he had to earn the $12 for every hour of instruction,” related nephew Bill Sugden, who served as emcee for the event.
On July 17, 1951, Sugden earned his Private Pilot Certificate after taking his test in Grand Forks, N.D. with examiner James Montgomery.
Shortly after gaining his license, Sugden took his mother for her one and only flight with him. She was not impressed and did not fly with him again.
Many others can recall their first airplane ride with Sugden at the controls. I remember taking my first flight with him and he loved to do tricks that were scary and/or thrilling depending on how you looked at it. He made sure every flight was a memorable flight and he enjoyed giving rides to anyone who asked.
Sugden continued flying as much as possible and purchased his own plan a 1940 Taylorcraft Bl-65, N24712 in 1953.
After many years of flying, Sugden ventured to New Ulm and Fairmont, Minn., in the spring of 1965 taking lessons from Lloyd Alsworth. He earned his Commercial Pilot Certificate May 27, 1965 in Fairmont. He returned home and began flying a Piper Pawnee doing aerial application for Luther Younggren. He flew with Younggren for five years before partnering with Clare Nelson, forming Nelson-Sugden Flying Service. Sugden continued in the aerial application business for 40 years.
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During his career, he flew the employees of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources so they could complete their annual moose survey in North-western Minnesota. The survey was done when there was enough snow cover to spot the moose and never done when temperatures were at 25 degrees below zero. He enjoyed doing this for eight years.
“It wasn’t uncommon to see coyote, timber wolf, and whitetail deer as well,” stated Bill Sugden in his report on his uncles flying career. “He also helped with locating and counting the various elk heards in the region.”
Sugden also flew many trips to Lake of the Woods for ice fishing with family and friends.
Always looking to add to his piloting experience, Sugden flew to Inter-national Falls, Minn. in the fall of 1980 to get his Single Engine Sea (SES) airplane rating. On Oct. 28 1980, Sugden earned this rating from James Einerson flying a Cessna 180.
Over his 67 years of flying, he has logged over 16,000 safe flying hours with over 10,000 in an ag plane. One of his more memorable flights was this summer when he gave his three great grandsons rides in his 1947 Piper PA12-150 Super Cruiser.
To commemorate his flying career, Sugden took a flight Nov. 24, 2017 – 67 years to the day after his first solo flight.
Celebrating with their father were all seven of Maurice and Dianne Sugden’s children (l-r) Bob, Peggy, Rick, Debbie, Kathy and Scott.