Kids growing up in a rural setting learn to operate trucks, cars, or farm equipment by sitting on the seat in front of their dads and gradually learning to drive. Growing up on a farm in Michigan, Rick Fiddler was one of those kids but, luckily for him, he had an added boon: his dad owned a 1957 Piper Tri-Pacer and a grass airstrip. As soon as he took the controls of the plane, his fascination with flying was launched and rapidly developed into a life-long passion for flight. After college, Fiddler’s career path was set when he acquired a job flying helicopters with the Lansing Police Dept. In 1982, Fiddler landed a job with Amway Corporation in Grand Rapids, MI, flying both helicopters and jets.
Fiddler’s skill and experience came into play while flying Amway executives over Lake Michigan in the company’s S-76 helicopter. The aircraft went out of control after its tail rotor gearbox and vertical stabilizer failed. The standard corrective response failed; and Fiddler had just a few seconds to gain control of the helicopter and successfully execute a water landing, saving the lives of everyone on board.
After serving as Chief Pilot, Director of Aviation, Fiddler is currently Vice President of Aviation for Amway – the most extensive “Part 91” department in the world with 15 aircraft and a staff of 71. He has logged over 17,000 hours and holds ATP’s for both fixed-wing and helicopters, along with multiple type ratings.
Giving back to the aviation community, Fiddler serves on the Michigan Aeronautics Commission. He is also a board member for the Michigan Business Aircraft Association and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. The latter is a public high school serving over 600 students. The academy brings a one-of-a-kind aviation experience to school age children, ensuring a quality learning experience to the next generation of pilots so that they can enjoy sitting in the front seat of an aircraft as he has.