BINGHAM, Maine — The weather was cooperative and the setting picture-perfect for the Maine Aeronautics Association’s annual Gadabout Gaddis awards luncheon Sunday at North Country Rivers in Bingham.
Gaddis, known as the “Flying Fisherman” from his outdoor television series in the 1950s, built the airstrip in Bingham, and the award is given to a person or group who has made a significant contribution to Maine’s aviation industry.
This year the honor went to Max Folsom of Greenville, whose family has operated a flying service in the Moosehead Lake region for more than 50 years.
Lisa Reece, president of the Maine Aeronautics Association, presented Folsom with a plaque and the “traveling trophy” that the recipient keeps for a year.
“This is in recognition of what he and his family have done for the Greenville area and for the floatplane business in general over the years,” Reece said. “It is truly a well-deserved honor.”
Folsom, 58, has been flying since he was 16 and said he couldn’t ask for a better way to make a living.
“I’d walk out of the front door of the house, and I’d be at work,” Folsom said. “Over the years, my father [Dick] and I did a lot of equipment testing, too.”
They were the first pilots to put a DC-3 airplane on floats and perfect “water bombing,” a technique still used today by the Maine Forest Service to extinguish fires in remote areas.
“We had a lot of ‘firsts’ in the area … But it’s a lot harder to run a commercial operation today than it was back in the ‘50s through the ‘80,” Folsom said.
He added that he was “humbled” and really appreciated the award.
“It means a lot to me,” Folsom said.
One of the guests at the luncheon was Dr. Peter Thompson of Hampden, a physician in the process of obtaining the fixed-base operation at the Greenville Municipal Airport from Folsom.
Under the pending arrangement Thompson is buying the 60-by-80 foot hangar at the airport, a house on the property, 10 tie-downs and the low-lead gasoline pumps.
Folsom would lease hangar space for maintenance work, continue to give flight instructions and assist Thompson in overseeing the fixed-base operation.
“[In any profession], you look at the people who have done things the longest and you learn from them. So I’m hoping I can absorb some of the things that Max has experienced,” Thompson said.