Michael Pittard only recently learned of the existence of the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t even know they had a Hall of Fame. I was surprised when my son Jeff said he sent a letter to nominate me,” said Pittard, who goes by his nickname.
The 80-year-old Carmel resident will be inducted into the Indiana Airlines Hall of Fame on October 8 at an honorary banquet at Carmel’s 502 East Event Center. The first class will be introduced in 2021.
“Since then, I am very humbled,” said Pittard of his selection for the 2022 class. Flying is why I did everything. I was able to enjoy flying and the rest was management, firefighting, etc. ”
After graduating from North Central High School in 1961, he enlisted in the US Navy and was assigned to an aircraft carrier. After he spent two years in the military, he attended Ball State University and graduated with a degree in accounting.
The aviation entrepreneur purchased Hoosier Air Sales at Fishers’ Metropolitan Airport in 1974. Hoosier Air Sales was soon renamed Indianapolis Aviation. He sold his 1985 Indianapolis Aviation, which had flight instruction, fuel sales, and aircraft sales.
Pittard acquired Kokomo Aviation in 1977 and launched Direct Air, a commuter airline, in 1981.
Pittard purchased a retail division at Lafayette Airport called Fixed Base Operator in 1981, then sold it to a Purdue affiliate in 2015 and renamed it Purdue Aviation. Carmel resident Jeff Pittard is president of Purdue Aviation at Lafayette Airport.
Pittard also owns charter operations in Indianapolis and began air charter services at Indianapolis International Airport in 1988. He sold the business in his 2008.
Pittard served as president of the National Air Transport Association from 1997 to 1996. He has also served on several other FAA committees during his 34 years in business.
Pittard has owned an entire carrier of aircraft, chartering and freighting, amassing over 13,000 hours.
“We were like empty limousines. They called us when someone needed to go somewhere,” said Pittard. “I made the rules, I’m unhappy, but I have to give up flying when I hit 65.”
Pittard and his wife Debbie have seven children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“We have people from California and Arizona, and the rest are here,” Pittard said of his attendees at his inauguration.
For more information, visit inahof.org.