Lester A. Larsen
1914 – 2004
Les Larsen was best known for his skills as a pilot, master flight instructor, flight examiner, and successful flight school owner whose aviation career spanned more than 50 years, with 35 years dedicated to Wyoming aviation.
Born and raised in DeWitt, Iowa, Les was constantly in search of new challenges. Whether motorcycles, speedboats, or boxing, he enjoyed the thrill and excitement of speed. At 14, Les started working at the DeWitt Airport for flying lessons. Later, he and a friend bought an aged biplane and proceeded to teach each other how to fly with Les soloing in 1930. During WW II, Les joined the Army Air Corps and was assigned duties as a primary flight instructor. At the end of the war he returned to Iowa continuing his flight instructor career.
He moved his growing family to Cheyenne in 1953 for a 23 year career as chief flight instructor and pilot at Sky Harbor Air Service. Les was one of only three Wyoming senior flight instructors designated as a pilot flight examiner by the FAA. During his time at Cheyenne, Les and his students flew 9,800 hours without a reportable incident, a record for Wyoming. He was named the Wyoming Flight Instructor of the Year in 1973. Later Les and his wife settled in Lander, operating a successful flight school until 1988.
Les is indeed Wyoming's master flight instructor, having logged well over 30,000 hours instructing over 2,500 people how to safely fly and giving more than 1,500 flight tests resulting in the award of a pilot certificate or rating.
He died on Oct. 24, 2004.