Med-Trans Pilot Honored With Prestigious Award


Pilot Melvin Hughes has received the Federal Aviation Administration's “Master Pilot” Award
Med-Trans pilot Melvin Hughes was honored by the Federal Aviation Administration with the prestigious Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” award. Hughes, a pilot based at Erlanger LIFE FORCE in Sparta, Tenn., was surprised with the award during a celebration last month. The Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” award honors pilots who have at least 50 years of safe flying.

“This award is an outstanding personal accomplishment for Mel,” said Kimberly Montgomery, COO of Med-Trans. “Mel embodies the Med-Trans pillars of safety, service, and making a difference in people’s lives each day and brings those to our partnership with Erlanger LIFE FORCE. We are proud of the example he sets for all members of the Med-Trans family."

Like many young men in the 1960s, Mel began his career in aviation during the Vietnam War.

“The summer after high school, it became clear that I was going to be drafted,” said Hughes. “So, I decided to enlist so that I could get assigned into a role other than infantry. After a battery of qualification and physical exams, I was able to enter the Warrant Officer Candidate Flight Training Program.”

Hughes flew a U-21A aircraft for the Signal Brigade in Vietnam for one year. Upon returning to the U.S., he was cross-trained in helicopters and reassigned to the 101st Aviation Division where he flew both Huey and Cobra helicopters.

“I left the Army in 1975 to continue working on a college degree,” said Hughes. “After graduating from Austin Peay State University in 1980, I found flying jobs working as a corporate pilot flying both helicopters and airplanes.”

Hughes continued his work in aviation and came to Med-Trans in 1992, after several years of working for another air medical program in Tennessee. In 2008, Hughes transferred from Erlanger LIFE FORCE 1 in Chattanooga to LIFE FORCE 2 in Sparta.

Receiving the “Master Pilot” award is quite humbling, Hughes said. “I had absolutely no idea I was even being considered. Having walked into an event, surrounded by people who have shared parts of the past 50 years with me, people who came to celebrate our work together and to wish me well will take quite a while to process and unravel. It is all a bit overwhelming. I am so thankful that I reached this milestone but can only credit the support of my crews, mechanics and dear friends for reaching it.”