If men could grow wings, Art Rogers would've sprouted a pair years ago.
The longtime pilot has spent more than 30 years with his head in the clouds, literally.
Rogers, an Operations Officer for the Payson Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, a captain with Continental Airlines and a Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserves, has spent hours upon hours cutting through the sky.
"I've always enjoyed being in the air, seeing Earth and being outdoors," he said.
The Star Valley resident was recently awarded the Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol Pilot of the Year Award for his work as a flight instructor and flight examiner in the volunteer organization.
He was selected among more than 100 pilots across the state for the annual award.
Rogers said that his father's Air Force career and service as a pilot in World War II inspired him to take to the skies.
"I always wanted to be a pilot," he said. "I enjoy aviation."
He attended the University of Arizona, where he earned a degree in aerospace engineering before joining the Air Force.
He said he flew his favorite aircraft--F-105 fighter planes--while on active duty.
"The first time I flew, I got sick," he said. "But that didn't stop me."
Upon entering the Air Force Reserves in 1980, Rogers took up commercial piloting. In his commercial career, he's flown Boeing 737s, 747s, 757s, 767s and currently pilots international flights out of Houston in Boeing 777s.
"I could not do a 9-to-5 desk job," he said with a laugh.
He said he enjoys the long trips--sometimes as long as 16 hours--and doesn't mind the massive size of the aircraft.
"The (sizes of) planes I've flown are unrelated to each other," he said. "I enjoy both."
Rogers has flown flights all across the globe while working for Continental. He cited Europe, South America and the Scandinavian region, among some of his favorite places to fly.
After living all over the country as an Air Force brat, Rogers decided that the Rim Country was where he wanted to grow some roots, so to speak. He moved to Star Valley with his wife Laurel, who is also an Air Force pilot, and son in 1999. He feels as much at home in the small town as he does in the air.
"I liked the area so we decided to move here," he said. "I plan to stay."
Not long after moving to Star Valley, Rogers began working with the Payson Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, a job he says he'll continue as long as he can.
"I'll stay with the CAP as long as I get satisfaction from the job and am able to do it," he said.
Among the responsibilities of the air patrol include search and rescue operations, cadet training programs and aerospace education.
Although he said he's never found a survivor from a plane crash and only wreckage sites, he feels a certain importance in his search and rescue work.
"It's something worthwhile," he said.
The search and rescue work that the air patrol performs has expanded in recent years to disaster relief work, as well. Advanced technological equipment on the Cessna airplane stationed at the Payson airport, allows for rescuers to create maps and obtain geological information about disaster sites.
"The local Payson CAP is very active," he said.
Rogers was recently one of three pilots trained on new instruments for such operations. He then relays the information to other members of the air patrol.
Rogers said that primarily he instructs cadets, who are between the ages of 12 and 18, and examines flights, similar to what a driving instructor does in a driver's license test.
"I oversee flying operations for CAP aircraft based at the Payson airport," he said. "I enjoy flying cadets. They're always real enthusiastic about it."
As far as receiving awards for doing something he was perhaps born to do, Rogers said he doesn't think it is "that big of a deal."
"I was not expecting to get it," he said. "It's fun and nice to get it."
Want to know more?
For more information about the Payson Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, contact Cadet Commander Mike Snively at 468-1039 or Squadron Commander Carl Damon at 474-3136.