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President's Message

As President of the Red Star Pilots Association (RPA) it is my pleasure to welcome you to our website!  The RPA is a Federal 501(c) (3) Not-For-Profit corporation registered in the state of Virginia. The association's mission is to promote and preserve the safe operation, display and enjoyment of all aircraft originating in the current and former communist block nations. The RPA strives to function as a clearing house for all information related to maintenance and safe operation of these aircraft. Through our designated Check Pilots and Instructor Pilots, we develop performance standards, principles and techniques which we disseminate to member pilots in order to promote safe formation flight and the safe operation of our aircraft.

Through our website, our national officers and our regional directors, we communicate with members in order to identify issues and concerns, provide training opportunities and organize events that provide resources and foster camaraderie.

We are an FAA-sanctioned signatory to the Formation And Safety Team body known by the abbreviation F.A.S.T. This position allows us to train, qualify and manage civilian formation pilots in the United States and Canada for the safe conduct of formation flight displays in the US and Canadian air show industry. Pilots the world over benefit from formation training at all levels while the public interest is maintained through our efforts to reinforce safety of flight. Membership is open to all pilots, aircraft owners and enthusiasts. You do not need to own an Eastern Block aircraft to become a full member.

Gil "NAFOD" Lipaz
President, Red Star Pilots Association

The History of the RPA

Originally started as the Yak Pilots Club (YPC) founded by Bud Harrell in 1993 with approximately 18 members operating the Nanchang CJ-6A aircraft. The membership expanded to over 200 by 1999 when leadership transitioned to Mike Filucci who established the organization as a non profit named the Yak Pilots Association (YPA) and signed on as signatory to FAST, the Formation And Safety Team program. 

The membership climbed to approximately 280 members, most operating the CJ-6 and Yak-52 aircraft. In 2002, Drew Blahnick was elected President of the YPA, and through a national referendum, changed the name to the RedStar Pilots Association (RPA) and modified the charter to insure the organization was fully inclusive of both prop and jet aircraft of all types. The RPA then ushered in a new set of bylaws and overhauled the infrstructure (web, magazine, online store) to form a regionalized organization to support growth. Membership has grown to over 450 with members operating all types of jet and prop aircraft. In 2007, Darrell Gary was elected President and Operations Officer by the Board of Directors for a three year term in accordance with the Bylaws. 

Following Darrell came Terry Slawinsky who served as president for five years.  Following Terry,  Hartley Postlethwaite served for three years.  Currently, membership stands at over 500.