OSHKOSH, Wis. - Keyser resident C. William Pancake Jr. of Keyser was named the 2018 Aviation Technician of the Year recently during the AirVenture General Aviation Awards ceremony held July 26 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

OSHKOSH, Wis. - Keyser resident C. William Pancake Jr. of Keyser was named the 2018 Aviation Technician of the Year recently during the AirVenture General Aviation Awards ceremony held July 26 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Pancake’s aviation career has spanned 62 years. By age 12, he knew that he wanted to fly. He would ride his bike to the Keyser Airport - where the Airport Addition is now. Several local attorneys who were pilots saw Bill was trustworthy and possessed great mechanical skills, and became his mentors, taking him flying whenever they could.
Bill soloed on his 16th birthday in 1956. His instructor was Forrest Miller, owner and operator of the Keyser Airport.
When the airport closed, Bill continued his flying 20 miles away at the Cumberland airport in Mineral Country, where he also got a summer job doing fabric work. In the fall, he found another job closer to home at Baker's Airpark and Aeronca Sales and Service in Burlington.
In 1957, at age 17, Bill passed his Private Pilot written test with a score of 100 percent, and later went on to earn certificates as Commercial Pilot, Instrument, Multiengine, Flight Instructor, Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic (A&P), and Inspection Authorization (IA).
Bill’s lifelong passion for repairing and restoring small vintage airplanes (mostly Aeroncas) began at Baker Airpark. He continued to work there until 1962, gaining an encyclopedic knowledge that made him one of the most sought-after Aeronca experts in the country.
In 1960, Bill began working for West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (Westvaco) as an electronics technician, and remained with the company for 42 years until his retirement in 2002.
Despite his employment at Westvaco, he never lost his passion for airplane restoration and engine work. So, in 1973, Bill decided to open his own restoration shop: Pancake Aviation. Word soon spread that Bill was back in the airplane business, and what started out to be a sideline grew into a successful enterprise.
Today, Bill spends much of his time helping aircraft owners and mechanics. Most days, he responds to 10 or 15 phone calls and dozens of emails from all over the world. Airmen from all over the world—Russia, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and many of the 50 states—have traveled to West Virginia to meet him and visit his shop.
During his career, Pancake built or restored 13 EAA AirVenture award-winning vintage airplanes. His first award-winner was a 1949 Aeronca 11CC owned by a longtime friend that took the Best Aeronca Chief award at Oshkosh 1978. Bill restored the same aircraft again in 1998 and it took honors again at Oshkosh that year.
Other Oshkosh award winners restored by Bill include a 1951 Aeronca Sedan (1980), Bill’s own IFR-equipped 1946 Aeronca 7AC Champ N1390E (1981), a 1927 Waco 10 with an OX-5 engine (1981), a 1946 Aeronca 7AC (1983), a 1927 Pitcairn PA4 Fleetwing (1991), a 1946 Sweizer glider (1998), a 1955 Champion 7EC (2000), a 1946 Aeronca 7AC (2003), a 1946 Aeronca 7AC (2007), Bill’s own 1946 Aeronca Champ NC1890E (2008), and a 1970 Bellanca Citabria (2015).
In 2006, Bill received the FAA’s two highest awards—the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award—respectively given for being an aircraft mechanic and a pilot for 50 years without any infractions, violations, or accidents.
At the time Bill received these awards, he was one of only 40 U.S. airmen to have received both awards, and the only West Virginian to do so.
In 2008, he was inducted into the EAA Vintage Hall of Fame at Oshkosh.
In 2010, Bill and his wife Saundra started working on creating a West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame when they discovered that the state was one of only 14 that didn’t have one. Four years later, in 2014, the Hall of Fame became a reality, and Bill was among the first group of inductees, along with Gen. Chuck Yeager, astronaut Jon McBride, and other notable West Virginian airmen.
Bill has been a member of AOPA since 1970 and of EAA since 1976. He has presented technical forums at Oshkosh for the past 33 years, and presented forums for both the Baltimore and Washington DC FSDOs. Bill serves as an EAA technical counselor and flight advisor. He has written for or been featured in Air and Space Magazine, EAA Sport Aviation, Vintage Aircraft, and the National Aeronca Association Magazine.
Although Bill is best known for his restorations of Aeronca airplanes and Continental engines, he has also maintained older Pipers, Cessnas (including the Airmaster), Wacos, Pitcarins, Commonwealth Skyrangers, Mooneys, Maules, Ercoupes, Taylorcrafts, Sweitzer gliders, Messerschmitt 108s, Republic Seabees, Stinsons, Staggerwing Beeches, Stearmans, Rearwin Cloudesters, and Bellancas, and worked on engines including Jacobs, Warners, Wrights, Pratt and Whitneys, Curtiss OX-5s, Lycomings, and Franklins. Bill has received FAA approval of five Supplementary Type Certificates (STCs) for modifications to vintage aircraft to make them safer and easier to maintain, including a starter system to eliminate the need for hand propping, and an improved method for attaching fabric to structures.
Bill met his wife Saundra at Baker's Airpark in 1958. They’ve been married 54 years, and she’s been Bill’s partner at Pancake Aviation. They have a daughter Stacey (a college math professor) and four grandchildren.
Bill taught two grandsons to fly and soloed them both on their 16th birthdays. He’s presently working with one of them to build a Van’s RV-8 in Bill’s shop, and he plans to teach his granddaughter to fly soon.