After 20 years of flying the state’s aircraft – with missions as varied as transporting the governor to meetings and events, to hauling building materials to Thomas Creek to repair the outhouse – Ray Glidden has decided to hang up his headset.
It is safe to say that there is not an inch of Idaho that has not attracted his gaze from on high. Crisscrossing the heavens month after month, through all the weather the changing seasons had to offer, Ray never once bent an aircraft and rarely terrified a passenger. To hear Ray tell it, (and rest assured, he likes to tell it) taking a heavily loaded plane into a short mountainous strip was just another day at the office.
But one has to ask, when was the last time an elk ran out in front of your office on short final, or an instrument panel fell onto your lap due to the near painful lack of smoothness in the runway you're departing?
Ray's cheerful demeanor and constant willingness to offer an opinion on any subject kept passengers entertained mile after mile through the skies over Idaho. The pilots who flew with Ray were never uncertain as to who was in control of the plane. As Ray once told the president of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) when he instinctively reached for the controls during a harrowing portion of a flight into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River Canyon "there's only one person flying this plane Bub, and it ain't you!"
Never one to flaunt his exceptional piloting skills, he is a true man of the people. Many times he was observed out in the hangar, assisting Tim on no-fly days. Sweeping hangar floors, washing aircraft and turning wrenches … none of these tasks were beneath him. His humble beginnings on a ranch near Bruneau served him well during his career in the Division of Aeronautics. His intimate knowledge of southwest Idaho was put to use during a three-year aerial study of bighorn sheep with biologists from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Ray's encyclopedic knowledge of Idaho's pilots and geography were indispensable whenever search and rescue missions arose. He knew the most logical drainage to search and who the most likely person to contact was for an initial "hasty search." All pilots at Aeronautics would want Ray on the search if they ever went down.
Sadly, Ray was rarely ever able to apply this "knack" to locating the biggest buck on the hillside or finding his errant golf ball.
Those opportunities will become more frequent beginning Monday (Oct. 8) when Ray enters formal retirement after more than 20 years with the department. The staff at the Division of Aeronautics, his colleagues throughout the transportation department and other state agencies, along with pilots from every region of Idaho extend their best wishes in retirement.
We collectively dip our wings and say, “have a smooth flight and a wonderful landing.”
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Photo: Ray Glidden and one of his frequent passengers, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, stand in front of the state's King Air following a recent flight.