Lori MacNichol learned to fly in McCall, Idaho, in 1982, because she wanted to get into the most remote fishing spots in the Idaho backcountry. Through her love of fishing, she developed a lasting love of flying and voraciously accumulated as much aviation knowledge as possible. This knowledge grew to include the history of the Idaho backcountry and its early aviators. The private pilot license led to commercial and flight-instructor ratings, and Lori carefully began keeping notes on the essential piloting skills and peculiarities of backcountry flying.
While expanding her piloting experiences working as an air-taxi pilot, she absorbed invaluable insight into the mountains and canyons from the old-timers in the area. Along the way, she added multiengine and seaplane ratings and is qualified as an airline transport pilot. After many years of flying as a 135 air taxi pilot across the Frank Church Wilderness, USFS contract fire pilot and corporate 135 pilot, Lori also discovered her true calling in aviation, as an instructor and teacher. She now owns and operates McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminars LLC, a flight school located in McCall, ID conducting seminars in Idaho, Utah and around the world.
In addition Lori conducts aviation-safety seminars for general-aviation pilots and many advanced specialty groups, such as US Border Patrol and US Forest Service, military Special Operations and Susi Air an on demand carrier located in Indonesia. She is currently involved in the preservation of the wilderness airstrips across the nation and has been invited to speak in Washington, D.C. during Congressional hearings, giving testimony in favor of preserving backcountry airstrips. She has had the opportunity to work with Idaho Public Television’s “Outdoor Idaho” filming and has been hosted on segments of “Back Country Pilots” and the History Channel series “Modern Marvels” titled “Runways.” During the past years she presented seminars at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association national convention, Sun ’n’ Fun, and the Alaska Airman Show.
Striving to foster the love of aviation and share the beauty of air travel in the wilderness, Lori continues to travel and speak at seminars and conventions across the country, radiating her enthusiasm for flying and teaching. Her total time is over 10,000 and of that she has flown approximately 8,000 in the backcountry.
She considers herself extremely lucky to be able to spend every day doing what she loves best.
Holbrook holds air-transport pilot, instrument instructor, multi-instrument instructor, Part 135, and A&P certificates. He has over 23,000 hours of experience, including over 2,000 hours in the Idaho backcountry. He started flying in 1949 and served 3 years with the Army Paratroopers and 10 years with the LAPD, where he flew helicopters. He also retired from United Airlines with 36 years of service.
Holbrook owned a skydiving school and a FBO in southern California in the 1960's and later started a FBO in Honduras. He continues to compete in the Reno Air Races and plans to fly a Formula One and his Unlimited in September.
He currently owns a Cessna 180, 185, and 195; a Russian Yak3; a Beech 18; an L5; and a helicopter. He is also restoring several other projects for his museum, “AEROPLANES OVER IDAHO.” He recently restored a 1937 Military Harley Davidson and a Model T.
Holbrook will roll out the red carpet for anyone donating planes and military memorabilia to the museum.
“I told my third grade teacher that I wanted to be an airplane driver, and I have been very fortunate to have earned a living doing exactly that for over 40 years. “
Rich earned his Private Pilot Certificate on his seventeenth birthday flying out of the same big red hangar that is home to McCall Mountain Canyon Flying Seminars today.
“My summer jobs in college and off and on for a few years after were flying the Idaho Backcountry for commercial operators. Even during the many years after, as I was flying FAR 135 charters, FAR141 flight schools, Corporate and Airline, I always made time in the summer to get in some flying in Idaho.” 19 years ago having moved to McCall full time, Rich began instructing for Lori and has been active each season on his days off from airline flying.
“Of my 31,000 hours in 135 types of airplanes, my time instructing for this school is among my most cherished; I am very proud to be associated with this school”. Besides instructing the scheduled seminars here in McCall and in Utah, Rich has been involved with the programs for the Military and has made three trips with Lori and Holbrook to instruct in the mountain/jungles of Indonesia.
“I still pinch myself sometimes; I am so grateful for the incredible opportunities I have had in aviation and I look forward to each new season of flying the backcountry”.
Gary has over 13,400 hours of flight experience and over 4800 hours as a flight instructor.
He learned to fly in Rangely Colorado in 1985. While there he also became a volunteer firefighter and a 911 dispatcher.
After going to college he moved to Danville Virginia to work at a 141 flight school flying Piper Tomahawks. He also had an opportunity to fly pipeline patrol from southern Virginia to Boston Massachusetts in a C-182.
Moving back to Colorado, he took a job as a flight instructor in Grand Junction Colorado, gaining experience in aerobatics (Decatholon & Extra 300) air to air/air to ground photography, search & rescue, wildlife tracking and backcountry training.
Working for Redtail Aviation, a 135 charter company out of Moab & Green River, Utah, was about as much fun as you can have in an airplane, mostly doing scenics and support for river rafting companies. One dirt runway was at 9200’!
Exciting times!! Other duties included fiber optics line patrol, wildlife tracking, emergency services, flight instruction, movie support, OAS and UPS contracts. Gary has also worked as a corporate pilot flying a P210 over most of the west for almost a decade, as well as instructing for American Bonanza Society for a few years.
His time at Weststar Aviation, an FBO in Grand Junction was another interesting turn of events, he got to be part of a team to help design a stall test recertification program for the Lear 20/30 series. Flying first officer was a hoot for him!
Gary was also involved in transporting aircraft coming or going to Mexico, Central/South America for maintenance via Texas or Louisiana. He would also fly mechanics around to repair or inspect aircraft.
For a time, he worked for a company that bought & sold airplanes, and he would deliver different aircraft across the United States to their new owners and teaching them to fly.
Throughout all this diverse flying, he has always kept one foot on the path of flight instruction. Having kept in touch with Lavar Wells, which he knew from his Redtail years, Lavar asked Gary to get in touch with Lori MacNichol and said “you’d make a great instructor for her”, so he did!
Sam holds the ratings of ATP, Instructor for SEL/MEL land and sea, glider, helicopter. Type ratings include B-747, DC-10, B-727, C-500, NA B-25, and ALL TYPES single and multi engine piston powered aircraft.
Sam also comes with an A&P/IA certificate.
He has in excess of 26,000 hrs, 100 different types of aircraft and helicopters. Two years experience in the Idaho backcountry, one in canyonlands. He started flying in 1958 and graduated in Aerospace Engineering in 1961, spending 10 years working for McDonnel Douglas and Boeing aircraft in sales engineering. Sam retired in 1998 from United Airlines after 30 years flying the Orient express.
Sam operates Sam's aircraft and restores and re-builds warbird type aircraft, and has raced at the Reno Air Races for 6 years in the Unlimited division. Other hobbies are RC aircraft building, flying, motorcycles and antique car restoration.
Based in Boise Idaho for the last 20 years - Paul Leadabrand is the founder and chief flight instructor of a unique flight school (Stick & Rudder Aviation).
The only Kitfox-Specific, and factory-endorsed, flight school In-the-World. Serving over 5500+ aircraft owners scattered in every country. Offering brand new 100% factory-built, certified, Light Sport aircraft - in turbo-charged tailwheel configuration - ideally suited and proven for the type-specific training in the mountains of Idaho.
Paul grew up with flying parents, in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and has made a career as a pilot.
Paul has background as a Mountaineer, Search & Rescue instructor, Paramedic, Fire-fighter, Forest Ranger, Para-professional Archaeologist, Law Enforcement officer, and White Water Raft guide...but he has always been a pilot.
The majority of Paul's 15,000 hour flying career has been in the on-demand charter or corporate segment of general aviation - from Captaining light-jets around the world - to flying a Pilatus PC-12 air ambulance on dark & stormy nights - to ferrying single-engine aircraft across the iceberg-strewn Atlantic - and to hauling llamas to ice-cream into the remote one-way, airstrips of the Idaho backcountry.
Paul met Lori in the late 80's - while they both flew for competing Idaho backcountry charter operators - primarily flying river rafters and all their equipment - in Cessna 206's.
Paul strives to bring the barnstorming-like joy of flying back into flight instruction with his safe, common-sense, practical approach.
Bart started flying at age 18 and has accumulated a vast amount of flying experience. He is a Commercial Pilot, an Instructor in both single and multi-engine, an Instrument Flight Instructor and a Certified Ground Instructor.
He has held an A&P Mechanic License for many years and possesses an Inspector Authorization (IA). He is also an FAA Safety Counselor, and an EAA Technical Counselor.
Bart Welsh is one of our original Flight Instructors and has been with McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminars since the program’s inception. Prior to that he instructed with the Challis “River of no Return” Mountain Flying Program.
Bart is the former Director of Aeronautics for the State of Idaho and has spent many years working to develop and preserve the Idaho network of backcountry airstrips. He and his family have enjoyed visiting and camping at numerous backcountry airstrips over the years and clearly understand their value.
He currently owns an Ercoupe and several Stinson 108 Voyagers (some of which are under restoration). He has flown nearly 7,000 hours with over 2,000 instructing and about 4,000 in tail wheel aircraft. Bart has been flying in the backcountry as well as teaching in the backcountry for over 25 years.
As a boy, Lytle loved any kind of model airplane. Freeflights were his favorites because everything had to be right aerodynamically to get them to fly at all. In 1964 Lytle saw an ad for a Taylorcraft in the paper for about what his Harley was worth, so he sold his bike and bought the plane, all 720 lbs of rotten fabric. The next day he signed up for flying lessons and started re-covering the T-craft.
He eventually took the T-craft to the Bahamas twice and across the US twice, parachuted out of it multiple times, and learned a lot about flying. He started flying skydivers in 1965 and got a commercial license when he got tired of flying for free jumps.
An aerobatics course in Boulder showed him what the world looks like upside down. His first Cessna 180, a 1953 model, took him on many trips across the country and up into Idaho for his first taste of the backcountry in 1974. Backcountry flying has been an addiction ever since.
Lytle started flying floatplanes in Seattle and spent 21 years flying for a Part 135 floatplane operator, which involved radial engines and turboprops. Along the way he's picked up ATP and CFI ratings, flown Alaska, instructed with McCall Mountain Canyon Flying, and completed a Northstar, a SuperCub look-alike homebuilt that loves to go into all of the Idaho and Utah backcountry strips.
Lytle now shares a house on a runway in the San Juan Islands with a large black cat. Sometimes he and Awos the cat travel to Illinois to chase mice and enjoy their large hangar there.
I earned my pilot certificate during the summer of 1969.
Since that summer, flying has evolved into a passion, a lifestyle. Along the way, I acquired over 15,000 hours of flight time in Jets, Turboprops, Helicopters, Floatplanes, Gliders and some very interesting experimental aircraft. I have been employed as a 135 Charter Pilot in airplanes and helicopters, a Director of Maintenance, Chief Pilot, Chief Flight Instructor, Test Pilot, and some other not so glamorous aviation jobs like cleaning hangars and pumping fuel. Altogether, I have had a wonderful career in aviation.
I retired in 2013 from corporate aviation, but I'm still active in aviation. I am a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner which keeps me occupied. Now, it is time for me to join my fellow flight instructors and share the knowledge that we have acquired throughout our flying careers.
By far, my favorite place to fly and teach flying is in the Idaho Back Country with McCall Mountain Flying Seminars. I am eager for the new flying schedules to be announced every year and to meet new Pilots who want to expand their flying experiences. Get on the schedule and come join us!
If you talk to anyone who knows anything about Utah back country flying they will know of Lavar Wells. If there is anyone more knowledgeable about the back county airstrips of Southern Utah and how to get in and out of them, we don't know who that would be. With Lavar its a generational thing - his father pioneered back country flying in the area when he started flying after he returned from World War II. A good number of the Utah back country airstrips are there because of him. Lavar's son, daughter, grandsons and nephews now carry on the tradition.
Lavar soloed in 1960 in Flagstaff, Arizona at the age of 16. Since that day he has been in the air as much as possible for pleasure, personal travel, aerobatics, business travel, drilling and mining support, finding cattle, chartered flightseeing, chartered photographic expeditions, chartered historical tours, chartered geological tours, finding lost persons, medical rescues, flight instructing, chartered transportation, back country instruction, personal favors and any other number of worthy causes. Some of that has been routine flying, but a good deal of it has been flying that has demanded absolute knowledge of the country and terrain and of the performance of the aircraft under all kinds of conditions. In his 53+ years as a pilot he has flown more than 13,000 hours in just about every single-engine aircraft.
He has been featured in Inside Out Magazine (www.insideoutmag.com) and Pilot Getaways and is the subject of numerous blogs.
He has been called "legendary" by more than one writer. "Lavar Wells is as good as instructors get" and "If you want to fly with one of the best, contact Lavar" are just a few of his many accolades.
Growing up in south Louisiana I will always be a southern boy at heart. I have an extremely close family that will find any reason to celebrate. I completed the majority of my flight training in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but naturally I migrated west.
I fell in love with backcountry aviation during the summer of 2014 when I took a job pumping gas at Redtail Aviation in Moab, Utah. That summer I met my dear Friend Neil MacNichol. We were thick as thieves from the minute we shook hands! Flying, boating, climbing and living young and free in the Utah desert made that summer one to remember. The following summer 2015 I Flew for Skydive Moab while working part time at Redtail. After a winter of schooling at LSU with some part time banner towing work, I landed a Pilot slot at Redtail for summer 2016. The experience and life long friendships I made were bar none. Between flying boaters in an out of the backcountry, doing front country charter work throughout the southwest, and UPS contract mail there was never a dull day. I worked for Redtail Aviation until October 2018. Currently I am flying a Cessna Grand Caravan in western Alaska for Hageland Aviation. We operate a vast network through out the state providing scheduled and on Demand charter.
With a life-long interest in all things flight, I am honored to work with the incredible group of Pilots at McCall Mountain Canyon Flying since Summer 2018. Learning the intricacies of mountain Canyon flying from Lori MacNichol has helped me to become a safer and more knowledgeable pilot than I ever thought was possible. Always seeking further training and skill, I look forward to operating in the Idaho Backcountry for many summers to come.
Neil had spent most every summer since 1998 working at McCall Mountain Canyon Flying Seminars, doing various activities from flying overhead air support, dispatch of aircraft, many tireless hours of filming clients taking off and landing at various backcountry airstrips to assisting in website design and creating training videos for classroom curriculum.
Neil began his aviation career at a very early age. In Kindergarten, Neil would ride the school bus to his mother’s business at the McCall airport every day after school and be entertained by videotapes of John & Martha King. As he grew, so did his passion for aviation, he began to wash airplanes at the airport in exchange for flights, his business card read “will work to fly”. This evolved into driving the fuel truck & fueling airplanes for his mom’s business, as well as answering phones & mowing the lawn.
At age 10, Neil was trained in & conducted aircraft dispatch. He would soon begin to co-pilot with his mom in a C/206, carrying elk meat out of the backcountry.
Neil did his first solo flight at the age of 16, and was a licensed pilot at age 17.
In 2013 Neil became a commercial, single &
multi engine, and instrument rated pilot. The Spring of 2014 Neil was employed by “RedTail
Aviation” at Canyonlands Airfield in Moab, Utah as
a 135 air carry pilot flying within the Canyonlands and enjoyed climbing the red rocks on
his days off.
Tragically, Neil passed away July 2nd, 2015 in
his PA22 aircraft while flying from Moab, Utah to Stanley, Idaho for a family