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Two Successful DC-3 Captain Checkrides: Mark Simmons and Ben Smith

Nearly a month overdue, the Tunison Foundation team is proud to present two new DC-3 captains: Mark Simmons of Pawcatuck, CT and Ben Smith of Flemington, NJ. Both Mark and Ben passed with flying colors after a thorough checkride with warbird examiner Doug Rozendaal of Clear Lake, IA. Both pilots had previously been active contributors to our volunteer teams as leaders and as SIC (second-in-command) pilots, and are very excited to start captaining the DC-3/C-47 to airshows and to Normandy in 2024.

Mark is the owner and manager of Simmons Aviation Services, which offers banner towing, scenic tours, and other aviation services from bases in Rhode Island and Florida. He is a long-time warbird owner, mechanic, and pilot. Mark holds an ATP (ASEL/ASES/AMEL/AMES) with Commercial Helicopter, Instrument Helicopter, and Glider privileges, type ratings in the DC-3, G-TBM, and N-B25, and an A&P License with Inspection Authorization. He is also a CFI, CFII, MEI, and CFI-G. Mark has been a key contributor in growing and leading our volunteer corps.

Ben is Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Tunison Foundation and Chief Information Security Officer for iCapital Network, an alternative investment financial technology firm headquartered in New York, NY. Ben's first exposure to general aviation was almost 10 years ago, when, as a passenger on a repositioning flight, he was invited to take the controls of Placid Lassie for a few minutes. That day, he set himself the goal of becoming a DC-3 pilot. After achieving his CPL (AMEL/IR) with Private ASEL privileges, he has now completed the last step: a DC-3 PIC type rating. We are especially proud of Ben's remarkable achievement which has been nearly a decade in the making.

The Tunison Foundation is exceptionally pleased by their performance in back-to-back checkrides on September 28th, 2023, and grateful to Doug Rozendaal as an experienced partner and friend in delivering top-quality DC-3/C-47 instruction and examination to our volunteer crews.

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