SAVANNAH, Ga .– Mikel Hofer, a pilot with Doland, received the John Robert Horne Memorial Award from the National Agricultural Aviation Association at the NAAA conference, December 6-9.
The award is presented to a pilot with five years or less of experience in the agricultural aviation industry who has an exemplary safety record and / or has contributed to safety in agricultural aviation.
Mikel Hofer started his spraying career at the age of four. When his father, Perry, made his way to the hangar with Mikel behind him, he would sit in the cockpit and spray “many acres” while his father changed the oil or worked on repairs.
“Those fins would be really moving when Mikel was in the cockpit!” said Perry.
This young man had no illusions of being a firefighter, superhero, teacher, doctor, etc. Mikel wanted to be a spray pilot. How many kids do you know who, for their elementary science fair, would take a hair dryer from home and introduce Bernoulli’s principle?
His beginnings began on the family farm outside of Doland, the third of four sons.
The Family Farm has many dynamics that keep the Hofer Clan busy, including Farming, Cattle, Trucking, and Doland Aerial!
Mikel graduated from Doland High School in 2010, with his SDSU acceptance letter in hand, loaded his father’s plane last summer and moved to Brookings.
In 2013, while attending college, Mikel obtained his private pilot license. He graduated from SDSU in 2014 with a major in agronomy, then enrolled at the Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, obtained his business license in 2015, and graduated in 2016 with his A&P certificate (airframe and powertrain ) and obtained its IA (Inspection Authorization) in 2019.
Doland Aerial Spraying having only one aircraft, he set out to rebuild his father’s Weatherly 620A.
It was a process that Mikel said took hours and hours of patient labor under the watchful eye and assistance of Martin Beving, a friend, pilot and mentor. After completion, Mikel was ready to be an aerial applicator alongside his father.
Over the years I rode with The Hofer’s to our SDAA conventions and SDAA board meetings, I was never asked to officiate, and Mikel never hesitated to point out to his father when he could be wrong, or inform them of a better way to approach a problem, ”said Jane Barber-Pitlick.
“Even before Mikel became a pilot, he knew the ADs and service bulletins on his father’s Thrush. Safety has always been a topic I could count on Mikel on on these outings, being a young generation of riders they see it differently from the riders of yesteryear. Pilots now have bigger planes, cockpit distractions, wind turbines, weather towers, cell towers, the list goes on.
Mikel and his wife Jackie know the danger exists; she is a strong supporter of Mikel’s career in aviation. Mikel completed his fifth year without an accident or incident.
Mikel sits on the board of directors of the South Dakota Aviation Association and attends the NAAA PAASS program at every tri-state convention. He has also been a fundamental contributor to the NAAA Subcommittee for CAM 8, with his knowledge and understanding of the issue. Mikel has been a strategic planner for 3 Operation SAFE clinics in the SD. He helped with the clinics set up by Gardisser, Chor and Bretthauer!
“I think we can expect Mikel to make great strides in the NAAA industry, and I look forward to working with him on the SDAA Board of Directors and eventually the Board of Directors. of the NAAA, ”said Barber-Pitlick.
Mikel and his wife Jackie have a busy family raising three young sons. Oliver is four years old, Elliot 2 and Gus 4 months old.