The husband-and-wife CFI team join a who’s who list of inductees including the late aviation journalist Richard “Dick” Collins (2018), the late flight simulator engineer Rudy Frasca (2012), Sporty’s Pilot Shop founder Hal Shevers (2007), and dozens of aviation education luminaries.
The National Association of Flight Instructors administers the award and says on its website that nominees are recognized for making “significant contributions to aviation education and flight instruction while reflecting credit upon themselves and their profession,” and emphasizes the “important role flight instructors play as a foundation for the safety of the entire national air transportation system.”
The Kings began their flight instruction careers more than 40 years ago by going door to door to explain federal aviation regulations, the principles of flight, and other concepts in an easy-to-remember format that features the two bantering back and forth while taking turns leading the instruction.
They ushered in a sea of changes during transitions from in-person sessions to videos, then DVDs, and the current online format. Interjecting facts with humor, providing real-world scenarios, and sharing personal stories are the couple’s hallmarks. It’s hard to forget some of their memory-jogging phrases, which include the admonition for pilots to “look out below” when “going from high to low” during cross-country flights through changing weather systems.
“John and I have spent a lifetime in aviation, and we—like you—have a passion about flying and the people who fly. It’s a wonderful community,” Martha King told attendees at a “Straight Talk About Aviation Safety” AOPA safety forum during EAA AirVenture in July. “I want to make it clear [that] Martha is just a little bit better pilot than I am,” John King said to AirVenture attendees, “because she knows where she is, and what’s happening, and what’s about to happen next. And I’m going along saying, ‘What the hell just happened?’”
During a brief ceremony October 13, NAFI Program Director John Niehaus said that the thirty-third and thirty-fourth inductees “were the hardest people we have ever had to surprise.” He thanked the couple for giving back to the community “through articles, seminars, educational scholarships, and corporate philanthropy” and for providing instruction to “thousands of aviators” during their 43-year educational career.
The Kings have flown a variety of aircraft—from single-engine piston airplanes to helicopters and multiengine jets. They were inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2019 and have accumulated dozens of additional awards and recognition. Flying Carpet author and former Flight Training magazine contributor Greg Brown was also inducted into the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame.