10/18/04 — Country star visits Goldsboro

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Country star visits Goldsboro

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on October 18, 2004 1:58 PM

The United States is "Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly," Aaron Tippin sang. It's also where Tippins fly.

Saturday night, Tippin's father, Willis Emory Tippin, 77, of Oak City, received an unique honor for a North Carolinian during the N.C. Wings Weekend banquet at Adamsville Baptist Church in Goldsboro.

Tippin was the first state resident to be given the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA recognized Tippin for more than 50 years of safe flight operations.

He had been trained as a fighter pilot for World War II and has logged more than 22,000 hours in the air since then.

Tippin did not know he was going to be honored. He had been told the event would honor his son, who's a country music star and also a pilot.

FAA officials carried the surprise throughout the evening, decorating the fellowship hall at the church with cardboard cutouts of Aaron Tippin. A video screen also showed a picture of Tippin singing. It was only when announcers prepared to call the younger Tippin up that they pulled the switcheroo and announced the Wright Brothers award.

"I feel like I've stepped on a land mine," Willis Tippin said, all smiles, after the ceremony.

Willis Tippin's brother, Bill, had already received the FAA's Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, which is given to mechanics with 50 years of experience. It's the first time that brothers have received the two awards, a FAA official said Saturday night.

Aaron Tippin is a South Carolina native. His first hit was "You've Got to Stand For Something," which reached the top 10 in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. Other hits include "There Ain't Nothin' Wrong With The Radio," "Working Man's Ph.D.," "That's As Close As I'll Get To Loving You," and "Kiss This."

"Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly," was released after the Sept. 11 attacks and made it to No. 2 on the Billboard chart. Tippin donated proceeds to the American Red Cross to distribute to the victims.

The Wings Weekend was sponsored by the FAA and the N.C. Department of Transportation and hosted by Goldsboro-Wayne Airport and SIG Aviation. Pilots and mechanics received training needed to renew their FAA certifications.