James Strang, of Millinocket, long-time owner/operator of Katahdin Air Service is the 2023 Gadabout Gaddis Cup Award recipient. The Award is presented bi-annually by the Maine Aeronautics Association to an
individual or organization who contributes significantly to the well-being of Maine’s aviation community. The award luncheon will take place on October 1, at 11:30 a.m., at North Country Rivers, Patrick’s Restaurant, located at the Gadabout Gaddis Airport in Bingham.
The award is given in the spirit of the “Flying Fisherman” Roscoe (Gadabout) Vernon Gaddis an early pioneer of radio and television. Gaddis starred in the television series the Flying Fisherman which aired from 1964 to 1969. These “folksy” 30-minute (in-color) fishing shows were filmed around the country — including locations in Mexico and Canada. But the series base of operations was from the private airfield “Gadabout” built at his home in Bingham. The beginning of every episode had a scene of him taking off from the Maine airfield in his Piper Cherokee. The airfield would later be named in his honor.
Strang’s aviation career includes over 40 years of flying floatplanes in the north Maine woods, as well as flying the islands of Penobscot Bay. Katahdin Air is located on Ambejejus Lake in Millinocket off the Golden Road. As owner and chief pilot for this thriving flight service Strang’s adventures were endless. From flying politicians and CEOs to prime fishing spots or a Maine lodge to picking up and recuing AT hikers or flying families and
fisherman to a remote camp—he according to the nomination “treated each and everyone the same.” That is with respect and professionalism and a dash of humor.
“Jim treated them as if THEY were the reason he was doing what he loved,” wrote Shawn Michaud, a former Katahdin Air/Penobscot Island Air pilot who nominated Strang for the award.
Strang’s enduring personality and his dedication to safety has earned him the respect and gratitude of his many “clients” and the entire Maine aviation community. He has logged over 20,000 flight hours without an incident or accident. He retired from commercial flying last month and his last flight was on August 28 when he picked up a group of fishermen from a weekend outing at Henderson Camp. He is currently the Director of Operations for Katahdin Air and Penobscot Island Air Services in Owls Head.
For over 40 years the GGCA has been recognizing those who have made significant contributions to Maine aviation. Former recipients of the award include some of the most well-known people in the flying community both past and present, like the late Kevin Waters of Penobscot Island Air, Tim Hodgkins of Lucky Landing Seaplane Base on Pushaw Pond, and Telford Allen of Greenville. And many more whose names are also synonymous with all-things aviation here in the great state of Maine and sometimes beyond. These include pilot and aircraft mechanic Kieth Strange of Lincoln; Ginny Geyer of Augusta, one of Maine’s first female flight instructors; Caleb Curtis at the Pittsfield Airport; Malcolm Brydon who helped establish Maine ACE Camp, a youth aviation summer camp; Max Folsom of Folsom’s Air Service in Greenville; Steve Welch and the Friends of the Biddeford Airport; former Northern Aroostook Regional Airport manager Dave Fernald, Sr of Frenchville; and Lisa Reece, president of MAA.