This article is from MAAG's Blog Mid-America Antique Airplane Group, who has kindly granted permission to re-publish on

Tonight was the MAAG Christmas party at Savute's Italian Restaurant in Wichita.  88 people were in attendance.  The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Ed Merkel.  Many of Ed's friends from his distinguished career were on hand, traveling from both coasts and other parts of the U.S.

Ed was in the Air Force and also the Kansas Air National Guard.  He received a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Wichita State University and designed, built, and flew his own airplane design, the Merkel Mark II Biplane. Ed's engineering career included time at Cessna, Learjet, and Boeing.

Jim Lamb from the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Wichita was on hand for the presentation, assisted by Greg Pavlish, who did much of the research and application preparation.  Don Grunke, Dick Curtis, and Al Strasser prepared letters of recommendation on various aspects of Ed's career and were also part of the presentation.  Ed's wife Bonnie and Sharon Brown did a lot of behind the scenes work to make the presentation a success.  It was fun to listen to the stories from Ed's career as told by his many friends in attendance. Congratulations Ed!

Our next MAAG event will be on Sunday, January 15 at the Stearman Cafe in Benton at 1:00 PM.  We will plan events for the remainder of the year, enjoy some good food, and do some hangar flying.  Hope to see you there.

Some of the crowd enjoying a lasagna dinner. Lots of airplane pictures and other items covered the walls and hung from the ceiling, making this a perfect location for pilots to gather.
Jim Lamb (FAA) on left presenting the award to Ed Merkel. Gary Pavlish says a few words.
Ed and Bonnie The Master Pilot Award
Let them eat cake! The Merkel Mark II Biplane Ed designed