ARSA Remembers – Gene Mike Bland (1945-2020)
In June, passionate aviator and former FAA inspector Gene Mike Bland – Gene to friends and Mike to family – died in a single car accident while driving to his home in Nocona, Texas.
Bland’s long commitment to aviation included personal and professional experience as skydiver, jump master and instructor, A&P mechanic, pilot, FAA inspector and aviation consultant. After growing up outside of Redding, California, he became a smoke jumper for the U.S. Forest Service before joining the U.S. Army and deploying to Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star and remained in service after completing his tour in Vietnam on assignment to the 8th Special Group, Golden Knights, rigging parachutes. He later became a member of the U.S. Army parachute team and then the 7th Army parachute team in Europe, which won gold and silver medals in Belgium, Yugoslavia, Germany and Switzerland.
After an honorable discharge, Gene completed his BA degree at the University of Nevada, Reno Mackay School of Mines, where he initiated the UNR Parachute Team and taught others to skydive. Upon graduation, Gene was employed with Fairchild, Inc. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, working on A-10 Aces 2 ejection seats. He became an A&P mechanic and earned his pilot’s license in 1979 while acting as director of maintenance for a flight school in North Carolina. For many years, he operated the Astroid Parachute Center in Asheboro, North Carolina.
He was instrumental in resettling Montagnard refugees in the Asheboro area. During 1980s and 1990s, he made several trips to Cambodia and Thailand and worked with the Royal Thai Border Police, taking advantage of language skills and experience gained during his Vietnam service.
From 1990 to 2006, Bland worked as an FAA principal maintenance inspector in Dallas, Texas for general aviation. His knowledge, stead character and integrity earned respect in the general aviation community. Bland is remembered by certificate holders for his dedication to their business success as well as the safety of the aviation system.
After retiring from the FAA, Gene continued Astroid Aviation as a consultant and expert witness, where he was able to fly his Cessnas frequently and assisted other aviators in any way he could.
“Every moment spent with Gene was worth a lifetime; his open-minded approach to aviation safety brought critical thinking to compliance well before the term was coined by the agency,” ARSA’s Executive Director Sarah MacLeod remembered. “The aviation industry lost one of its most dedicated professionals; my heart goes out to his family and the entire community.”
He is survived by his first wife, Mary Katherine McMillan Bland, son Charles William Bland and daughter-in-law, Tyffany Lyiana Price, grandson, Evan Page Bland, sisters Margaret Blackford Bland, Joyce Woods, Connie Cochran, and brother Bert Cochran. He will be especially missed by his wife of 27 years, Ellen Drew Bland and “Winkie,” the hangar cat, Gene’s constant and loyal companion.
ARSA Still Remembers...
April 20, 2020
It is with great sadness that ARSA informs its membership of the recent passing of Joe Sirico, long-time quality fellow and regulatory compliance stalwart at Pratt & Whitney. (Company sources advise that his death was not related to the current pandemic.)
Sirico arrived at Pratt & Whitney after graduating from the University of Connecticut, where he also attended law school, to begin a career that spanned parts of six decades. Although he had recently retired – his LinkedIn bio proclaimed he was no longer seeking work – those who regularly attended ARSA’s Annual Conference know that he was always an active participant, a tireless advocate of “good government” principles and an important ally in educating both government and industry representatives about their regulatory obligations and roles. He frequently traveled to Pratt & Whitney’s facilities all over the world and was as well-known to and respected by international regulatory authorities as he was to the FAA.
“Many people didn’t know that Joe was also an attorney and he used that knowledge, along with his technical skills, to carry out his day-to-day responsibilities,” said ARSA Managing Director and General Counsel Marshall S. Filler. “ARSA could always rely on Joe to help out when needed. He was a kind and gentle soul and the industry is stronger for his significant contributions to aviation safety.”
For more information about services and remembrances, and for Joe’s full obituary, click here.
February 27, 2020
On Feb. 26, Helicopter Association International announced the death of its Immediate Past President Matt Zuccaro. Zuccaro passed away on Feb. 25 – he was 70.
Zuccaro began his long career in aviation through teenage service in the Civil Air Patrol before joining the 7/17th Air Calvary flying helicopters as an Army helicopter pilot. He earned several commendations for his service in Vietnam. After completing his military service, Zuccaro continued his flying career and embarked on a series of roles supporting the broader rotorcraft community. He was a founding member of the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council and spent the past 15 years as president and CEO of Helicopter Association International.
An HAI member since the early 1980s, Zuccaro was elected to the association’s Board of Directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. He was named president of HAI in 2005 and retired last month, working often with ARSA team members as his own staff coordinated on industry initiatives, hosted meetings at HAI’s headquarters building in Alexandria, Virginia and otherwise supported the shared needs of the aviation community.
“My tenure as president and CEO of HAI has been the highlight of my working life,” Zuccaro said in his farewell message in ROTOR Magazine’s Winter 2020 edition, highlighting his pride in contributions to aviation safety, career development and expanding the network of professionals supporting the industry. “Leading this association offered me the opportunity to pay back the industry that has provided me with a rewarding and fulfilling career.”
During HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim in January, Zuccaro was honored with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognizing his 50 years of professionalism and skill as a pilot.
“Matt’s dedication to the industry was impressive,” said ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “His demand that safety remain first and for his pilot colleagues to ‘land the damn bird’ ensures the leadership he provided will leave a lasting mark on the helicopter sector.”
To read Zuccaro’s full obituary in The Journal News, which includes service information and a means to share memories of his life, click here.
HAI has set up a remembrance page through which industry colleagues can share memories, which can be found at www.rotor.org/about/matt-zuccaro.
January 3, 2019
Anthony J. “Tony” Broderick Jr., the long-time voice for good government, reasonable safety oversight and wise leadership in the aviation industry, died on Dec. 30, 2018 in Bealeton, Virginia. He was 75.
Born in New York on Feb. 23, 1943, Mr. Broderick grew up in Levittown and graduated from Saint Bonaventure University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He then spent seven years in the private sector developing optical systems before joining the Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971. Mr. Broderick’s work in several areas, including ozone reduction, led him to join the FAA in 1976, relocating his family to Warrenton, Virginia.
Tony spent the majority of his agency career in the FAA’s regulation and certification organization, playing a central role in several major regulatory initiatives. He helped develop international audit standards and regulate extended and polar operations while serving as the regulator’s clear voice for sensible interpretation of the aviation safety rules. He left the government in 1996, racking up countless personal honors and awards – including an Aviation Week & Space Technology Aerospace Laurel and later an Aviation Week-Flight Safety Foundation Distinguished Service Award as well as Flight International’s Aerospace Personality of the Year in 1995 – and later served as a technical advisor for a number of industry leaders before retiring in 2014.
“Tony possessed a unique combination of intelligence, dedication and honesty at the FAA’s highest-level career safety position,” said ARSA Managing Director and General Counsel Marshall S. Filler. “His decisions were almost always about the data even as the politics of aviation safety swirled around him. It is his example on which ARSA’s insistence on ‘good government’ is based.”
Tony is survived by wife; Sylvia; his children, Sean and Pia; his grandchildren, Isabelle and Magdalena; his sisters, Penelope and Christine; his brothers-in-law Jimmy and George, and numerous extended-family members. Sean has become known for his own work as a voice for the aviation industry, serving countless industry stakeholders and watchdogs including the American Association of Airport Executives, the Aviation Week Network and boutique marketing firm MKD Strategic, which he founded in 2016. Notably, Sean ran ARSA’s communications department in 2006 and remains a trusted resource, regularly reporting on the association’s support of the aviation community.
ARSA extends its condolences to the Broderick family and thankfulness to Tony for a life spent in service to his community, the aviation world and the global flying public.
To view Tony’s full obituary, visit: www.fauquiernow.com.
Those wishing to express their condolences and appreciation for Mr. Broderick’s life are encouraged provide a donation to Blue Ridge Christian Home, 7034 Catlett Road, Bealeton, Virginia 22712, or a memorial donation in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association.
August 19, 2018
Stewart Mercer, passionate aviation professional, community leader and world traveler, passed away on Aug. 12. He was 80.
“The industry lost another of its ardent supporters, ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod said. “For those that did not know Stewart, his is an example of a life well-lived for the many of us who loved, admired and respected him. We who were lucky enough to have met him will remember him and his family with affection. Our love and prayers remain with his family and many friends who will miss him dearly.”
Stewarts family shared an announcement of his death on Aug. 17. The following edited version of that announcement is provided to help old friends remember and the rest of the maintenance community learn about his great life (service and remembrance information included):
Born July 20, 1938 in Flushing, New York to Quintin Ulysses Mercer & Dorothy Westervelt Mercer. Raised by his mother and sister, Kathleen; they lived in a great many places while growing up. He attended different schools in NY: Elementary school, Sunday school, High school, Reform school, and the “School of Hard Knocks.” (and he would be the first to say the knocks were often self-inflicted!) He left home at the early age of 14, and eventually enlisted in the USAF at 17, with his mother’s reluctant consent.
On July 10, 1982, he married Noelle Carlson whom he met in Denver, CO; They married in the Catholic Chapel at San Geronimo, on the Taos Indian Reservation, in New Mexico.
He lived in many places including New York City, where he was born, and New Orleans after he left home at 14. Later he lived in Tripoli, Libya and spent a short-term residence in Valetta (St. Paul’s Bay) Malta. Stewart also resided in Portuguese Bend, Rolling Hills, and Palos Verdes, California. His time in Denver, Colorado marked his fortuitous meeting of Noelle in December 1981. Together, they also lived in Miami Springs, Florida and Dallas, Texas. His travels took him to more than 100 different countries around the world and numerous cities within those countries. He encountered various war zones in Beirut, Lebanon, Managua, Nicaragua, Larnaca and Nicosia, Cyprus, and Amman, Jordan.
He chose to be in the commercial aviation industry during his long career. He founded AV-EX, Aviation Excellence and headed the global aircraft parts distribution firm, debt free, for his entire tenure as CEO & President, until its sale in 2009. He was proud of the business until the end, particularly of its continuing to thrive and support many of the same employees who worked under his ownership.
Stewart provided good counsel for his aviation colleagues until the end of his life, focusing his consultation on operational excellence, airline parts distribution and sales growth. His personal and business life were always based on the principle that “The harder he worked, the luckier he got.”
Persistence was his mantra, and they served each other well.
Notes about Stewart’s life, family and interests:
General Aviation Flying – He flew more than 36 different aircraft types into more than 100 different airports.
Airports – Those 100+ airports witnessed his non-spectacular, non-eventful landings hundreds of times, including 9 of the top 10 busiest airports in the nation; dozens of times.
Skydiving – His first official log book entry was in 1966 at Lake Elsinore, California
Paragliding, Parasailing, and Hang Gliding
Stewart supported several philanthropic organizations including the SPCA, The Dallas Symphony, and The Dallas Summer Musicals (where he was a member of the Board of Directors), The Frontiers of Flight Museum, where he also served as a Member of their Board. He also mentored entrepreneurs personally and through his participation in “The Board Room.”
He and Noelle created a Scholarship Fund at The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences for students of veterinary medicine. The Scholarship Fund was named in honor of their long-time veterinarian, Dr. Terry Ford, and the staff at North Dallas Veterinary Hospital.
Survivors include his wife Noelle, her children Dori & Derrik and their children Richie, Kenny, and Krystall, his sister Kathleen Smyth and her husband Dennis Smyth, sisters Judith Gingras; Linda Thorsen, Diane Mercer Toomey, and nieces & nephews; Kathleen, Kerry, Doreen, Denise, Laure, & Tim; Jeffrey & Matt.
Stewart was preceded in death by his mother & father, Dorothy & Quintin.
Among the thousands of people that Stewart met over the years, he was most proud of having met and been in the company of several Four-Star Generals, including John R. Dailey, Stanley Allen McChrystal, Raymond T. Odierno, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, David Petraeus, Tommy Franks; and Admiral John Walsh.
Dallas was where Stewart chose to spend most of his life, but in his heart and mind, New York was always “home”.He particularly enjoyed his times there with Noelle and introducing daughter, Dori, son Derrick and the 3 grandchildren to the wonderments of New York City!
Thursday, August 23 at 12:00 p.m.
7405 West Northwest Highway
Dallas, TX 75225.
Stewart will be cremated with a portion of his remains being scattered off the coasts of Palos Verdes, California and Catalina Island, a most favored place for him.
Memorial contributions are welcome at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and/or Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. (Mercer Scholarship Fund)
May 4, 2016
James J. “Jim” Ballough, Jr. passed away at his home on May 3 after a seven year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.
A Vietnam veteran, Jim earned his B.S. in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics’ AMT program. He started his civil aviation career as an A&P mechanic with Eastern Airlines before becoming an FAA safety inspector. He quickly rose through the agency, serving as principle maintenance inspector of US Airways and manager of the Eastern Region’s Technical Branch before his promotion to director of the Flight Standards Service in Washington, D.C.
After 27 years of public service, Jim transitioned to the private sector as vice president of Cavok, a division of Oliver Wyman in Keller, Texas.
“[Jim] was one of the finest public servants I’ve known,” said Marshall S. Filler, ARSA’s managing director and general counsel. “He did what he thought was right even when it wasn’t popular or politically expedient. Nor did he avoid tough decisions; though he worked to build consensus he managed to get things done without it. He will be sorely missed.”
Jim was a vital supporter of ARSA’s during his tenure with the FAA as well as in his private career. The association’s team sends deepest condolences to his family and many friends in the aviation maintenance community.
Jim is survived by his wife of 45 years Michele; his children Lauren and James III; and siblings Margaret, Susan and Michael. He was preceded in death by his parents, Betty and James Sr.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
February 2, 2016
Mary Alice Rice, who was instrumental in the operation of the Northrop Rice Foundation, passed away on Jan. 26 at her home near Houston, Texas.
Alice’s long commitment to the aviation community began with a job at Braniff Airways in Kansas City, where she met her husband James in 1956. The two moved to California and eventually Houston, where they helped put a man on the moon before founding Rice Aviation (later renamed Northrop Rice USA, Inc.) in 1972. She led the company as chief executive officer for 44 years.
In addition to NRF, where she helped support the careers of thousands of aspiring aviation professionals, Alice was actively involved in the Aviation Technician Education Council and the Association for Women in Aviation. She leaves behind her husband, six children, nine grandchildren and a legacy of dedicated commitment to the future of flight.
The association has long support NRF by providing for the annual ARSA Scholarship, which helps a selected AMT student with money for books, tuition and fees. The scholarship honors Alice’s commitment to the men and women who keep the world safely in flight by investing in their future.
To learn more about the ARSA Scholarship, and to see how you can get involved in NRF’s mission, visit: http://northropricefoundation.org/index.php/scholarships/amt-student-awards-and-scholarships.
To view Alice’s full obituary and to learn about funeral arrangements, visit: http://www.crowderfuneralhome.com/obituaries/mary-alice-rice/.
August 18, 2015
Dr. Thomas C. Accardi – the life-long aviator and public servant – passed away on Aug. 14.
Dr. Accardi earned his pilot’s license at 17 and flew as a commercial pilot before joining the FAA. During his agency career, he served as director of Flight Standards in Washington, D.C. and director of Aviation System Standards in Edmond, Oklahoma. He retired in 2011 after 33 years of federal service.
“Tom served the public during some very difficult times when the FAA was often caught in the middle of highly-publicized labor disputes,” remembered Marshal S. Filler, ARSA’s managing director and general counsel. “While he was fair-minded in his approach to those issues he never wavered from his responsibility and was a relentless advocate for aviation safety.”
Dr. Accardi is survived by a large family including his wife, Deborah, and their two daughters and granddaughter. He also leaves behind the legacy of his long commitment to the safety of aircraft crews and passengers around the world.
To read the full obituary and express condolences, please click here.
June 16, 2015
Jay Pardee, the FAA executive who was instrumental in multiple initiatives that greatly improved aviation safety, passed away suddenly on June 12. He was 68.
Pardee devoted his 44 years of FAA public service to improving the safety and reliability of aircraft engines and using data to reduce risk in commercial aviation through the work of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), which he helped create.
“Jay Pardee’s leadership and innovation is in large part responsible for today’s outstanding U.S. commercial aviation safety record” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Pardee pioneered the establishment of ETOPS (Extended Range Twin-Engine Operations), which is one of the major contributors to the drop in the U.S. commercial fatal accident rate.
With CAST’s creation in 1997, Pardee helped forge a remarkable government and industry partnership that became the model for the world. By 2008, CAST achieved an 83 percent fatality risk reduction in commercial aviation through the voluntary adoption of safety enhancements. In that year, CAST was presented the Collier Trophy in recognition of its achievements.
He also helped transform the focus of aviation safety management from a forensics approach to a more prognostic approach through the establishment of the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program.
“Jay was always supportive of mutually beneficial meetings,” said Sarah MacLeod, ARSA’s executive director. “He never dismissed the industry’s concerns or solutions merely because they weren’t aligned with the agency or his own view of a situation. With his ability to listen and understand multiple positions, the solutions he endorsed were always feasible.”
May 7, 2015
On Wednesday, April 29, Frederick Joseph Emery passed away at his home in Washington, D.C.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Fred moved to the nation’s capital in 1963 to serve the FAA and Department of Transportation as a regulatory lawyer and eventually as Director of the Office of the Federal Register. While in public service, he remained connected with future legal minds as a professor of administrative law at Antioch Law School.
In 1980, Fred started The Regulatory Group, Inc. to advise government agencies on the rulemaking process. The firm provides both training and consultant services in regulation writing, policy development, training, indexing, management of regulatory systems and report writing. Fred’s son Andrew (one of his three children, along with nine grandchildren and countless friends) continues that work today as the Regulatory Group’s president.
Through his long career as public leader, mentor and coach, Fred has been an indelible part of the Washington, D.C. community. For ARSA and its members, his passing marks the loss of a great friend to the aviation community and cause to celebrate his long service on behalf of the American people.
A celebration of Fred’s life will be held on June 14, 2015, at 2:00 pm at the Thomas Room, University of Maryland golf course clubhouse, MD 193 and Stadium Drive, College Park, Md. Memorial contributions may be made to SOME or a charity of your choice.
April 22, 2014
On Monday April 14, Edmond Boullay passed away.
Edmond was a lifelong advocate of the aviation industry and friend of pilots, passengers, and aviators everywhere. He lived a life of humble service and leaves behind a legacy of international cooperation between aviation communities.
Born in Montrichard, France, in 1943, Edmond worked for 13 years with the French MOD Flight Test Center as an Experimental Test Engineer and Pilot before being appointed Aeronautical Engineer at the Office of Armament Attaché at the Embassy of France in Washington D.C. In 1986, he joined the French Ministry of Transportation/Civil Aviation Directorate (DGAC) and created the position of Civil Aviation Attaché and DGAC representative to the FAA. That position he pioneered would later become part of the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) in 1994 and ultimately, in 2003, part of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Retiring in 2008, Edmond joined U.S.-CREST as a senior research associate and project director. He held a commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and IFR ratings. He also earned the French Médaille de l’Aéronautique, which is awarded to both military personnel and civilians for outstanding accomplishments related to the field of aeronautics.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of Edmond’s passing,” said Marshall S. Filler, ARSA managing director and general counsel, “Through his lifetime of dedication to international aviation collaboration he helped to ensure that millions of fliers can travel the world and arrive safely every day. The international civil aviation community has lost a great friend and ally.”
Due to the overwhelming affection shown to Edmond’s family in his passing, they have planned a memorial service open to all at 10:00 am on Saturday, April 26th at Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be sent to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (http://www.stjude.org) or the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
U.S. CREST is also working with Edmond’s dear friend Julian Hall to put together a book of remembrance from his fellow professionals to present to Edmond’s wife Roberte and his sons Emmanuel and Alexandre. You may send messages for inclusion to email@example.com or to U.S. CREST, 1400 Key Blvd, Suite 420 – Arlington, Virginia 22209.
May 6, 2014
ARSA was sad to learn of the passing of former House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) on May 3.
Oberstar, a lifelong transportation advocate, represented Minnesota’s 8th congressional district for 18 terms from 1975-2011. Dubbed ‘Mr. Transportation’ by his colleagues, he began his career as an aide to his hometown congressman, John Blatnik (D-Minn.), then-chairman of the House Public Works Committee (now known as the House Transportation & Infrastructure [T&I] Committee). Oberstar himself served as T&I chairman from 2007-2011, solidifying his reputation as an ardent supporter of infrastructure investment and a transportation policy expert. Even after leaving Congress, Oberstar remained engaged in transportation policy, speaking frequently about key issues.
“The transportation community has lost a great advocate and leader,” said Daniel B. Fisher, ARSA’s vice president of legislative affairs. “While we didn’t always agree, Chairman Oberstar was always respectful, passionate, and open to hearing other points of view. Nobody knew transportation better than him.”