Meet Mark Meredith, Captain, US Navy (Retired)

Me in front of Chippy, zoomed lessMark’s aviation career began with the Navy, graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1979 then Naval Flight Officer training in Pensacola.  He was an A-6 Bombardier/Navigator for awhile but spent most of his Navy career as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer, managing logistics and programs.  He attended the Navy Postgraduate School in Montery, CA, and served on many different aircraft carriers including as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer on USS Theodore Roosevelt and on Atlantic Fleet and Carrier Group staffs.  He retired as a Captain in 2004 then continued to serve the Navy for 9 years as president of M. S. Meredith Consulting, supporting acquisition programs and Pentagon staffs.  Then he left staff work in 2013 to finish rebuilding his Super Chipmunk!

But before Navy, from the time he was 8 years old Mark was enthralled with airplanes.  The son of an Air Force pilot (who also owned a Ryan PT-22 in the years after WWII), he had an early exposure to cool planes.  He was hooked early-on by the Ryan STA and Art Scholl’s Super Chipmunk.  He rode his red bike to Flabob airport in Riverside, CA, where Art was based – then and now a mecca  for airshow, vintage, early homebuilt and WWII warbirds.  The look he gave to his Super Chipmunk bears that heritage: a beautiful mashup of a 1930’s tandem STA and an Art Scholl-style Chippy.  Mark’s taste has always leaned toward Vintage airplanes, especially the Golden Age racers, not because of any nostalgia but because they were beautiful, that perfect blend of form and function, elegance and power, typified by the Hughes H-1, the Lockheed Sirius, and many WWII fighters.  The Spitfire is sublime grace…but many would say it is merely the rich man’s Super Chipmunk!  In Mark’s updated, open cockpit Chippy, a bygone age of Vintage charm comes together in an “almost” modern aerobatic machine the Everyman can afford to fly.

Mark spent a career keeping Navy jets launching off the pointy end of Navy carriers, and with his growing family he did not become a pilot until he retired from the Navy at age 47.  His two children now have children and his wife Martha is the pastor of Rockville United Methodist Church.  While still prioritizing family and Navy work, Mark began turning his attention to achieving his instrument and commercial certificates, and owned several airplanes including a nice Bonanza A-36 which he flew on 30 Angel Flight missions in service of patients needing transport for distant medical services.

All the while he was pursuing his pilot ratings and running his Navy consulting business, Mark had his eyes set on a restoring a classic airplane that could also fly aerobatics.  Not many of those around!  But when N7DW showed up on Trade-a-plane in 2009 he knew he’d found the one.  An open cockpit Super Chipmunk – how rare is that? It was red and big and evoked a 1930s charm.  And loud and open to the sky.  It was all about pure looks, an airplane glamour girl, and just as impractical.  Mark promptly sold the Bonanza to buy it, knowing it was an old and very tired “project plane”, though he really had no idea of the great challenge and adventure he was getting into!

The result, after 5 years and 5,000 hours of labor, was rebuilding of a Classic head-turner that won Vintage Champion Custom Classic Aircraft (Bronze Lindy) at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2015.  Mark and “Chippy” have since been partners in sharing its elegant charm and excitement at many contests and airports around the country.

Mark has served as president of his EAA Chapter and since 2014 as a full time flight instructor at Navy Annapolis Flight Center based at Lee Airport in Maryland.  He teaches Private, Instrument, Commercial and CFI students in Pipers and Cessnas, while also competing in International Aerobatic Club competitions and preparing to fly airshows. All of Mark’s students experience a free introduction to spins and aerobatics in his Chippy!

Mark’s student Amy Wolfgang is pictured at the 2017 Mason Dixon Clash IAC aerobatic contest, after winning first place in the Primary category.  Mark rode along as safety pilot in the back seat while Amy flew precise aerobatics, just two weeks after completing her Private Pilot certificate.  She learned to fly well in 3 dimensions while she was learning the basic skills to become a pilot!

850_2541
Some of the pilots and ground crew at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome after the 15 July 2018 show
850_2189
Waving to the crowd at Old Rhinebeck!