Fred Lundahl is known as a man about town in Langley, often seen driving visitors around in the official golf-cart shuttle, volunteering at various events and hosting “Fred” Talks at his business, Music For The Eyes.
He’s also a busy guy up in the sky. Lundahl is a pilot and a flight instructor.
And, apparently, he’s a really good teacher. Lundahl, 73, received a 2018 Distinguished Flight Instructor Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, one of the world’s largest aviation organizations.
He was among 150 pilots from around the country cited for their training skills and top-notch safety awareness for the annual award.
Winners of the Flight Training Experience Awards were presented in October at the association’s headquarters in Frederick, Md.
People who received flight training last year were encouraged to fill out a survey about their experiences and those results were used to select winners, according to the AOPA website.
Six students were under Lundahl’s wings last year and he put in about 100 to 150 hours of flight time.
Lundahl flies out of the Whidbey Airpark in Langley. His 1975 Cessna 150 Aerobat is called Scarlett. She’s known for her big fluttering blue eyes painted on the canvas cover.
“Some of my first flying students on Whidbey were baristas, young women working at Useless Bay Coffee,” Lundahl explained. “They loved the Disney Pixar movies ‘Cars’ and ‘Planes.’” They noticed there weren’t any strong female leads and no lady planes with Dusty Crophopper.”
So they bestowed the name “Scarlett” on the small red plane, painted the cabin’s cover and instructed Lundahl to tell others she is no shrinking violet.
“She’s Scarlett, she’s not Dusty’s girlfriend, wife or colleague,” Lundahl proudly points out. “She’s his supervisor.”
Instructing others to soar for some 50 years and with 4,500 flight hours to date, Lundahl says he flies for “the freedom, the freedom.”
“It is an incredible sense of freedom,” says Lundahl. “Just this morning I was up there and you could Mount Baker behind us, Mount Rainier in front of us, Olympics to the right, Cascades on the left and all those vehicles crawling down I-5.
“And I thought, ‘My gosh, isn’t this a great way to get around.”
Sky and Tara Rudolph, owners of the airpark, recently wrote in a newsletter, “We are very proud of Fred’s dedication to aviation and inspiring so many others to share in his passion.”
Lundahl and other local pilots are also involved with helping the South Whidbey High School Flight Club get off the ground.
Asked to describe Whidbey from 4,000-or-so-feet, Lundahl replies in typical Fred fashion, “More trees, more whales.”