Paul Middlebrook makes the skies friendly

There’s nothing Paul Middlebrook likes more than looking in the mirror above his head as he’s flying the bright yellow 1943 Boeing Stearman to see a broad grin on his passenger’s face.

“You have no idea how rewarding it is to look in that mirror and see them smiling,” he told a crowd of about 150 family and friends Saturday evening at the former Seneca Flight Operations hangar at Penn Yan Airport.

The crowd was gathered to honor Middlebrook as he was presented the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at an event punctuated with heart-felt testaments to the man who has circled the earth as a pilot, instilled a love of aviation in scores of others, managed corporate flight operations, and advocated for valuable improvements at the Yates County Airport.

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