Since purchasing the Sidney FBO in 1986, Ed & Kelly Nelson have dedicated their lives to serve those who share their passion for aviation. They have spent much of their free time exploring the North American continent with their own airplanes.
Raised on a ranch 25 miles from Sidney, Ed grew up with a passion for flying. His father, Leonard, served as a primary flight instructor during WWII, flew for United Air Lines in DC-3's, had a charter service and a fixed base operation, a Cessna dealership, and was a designated pilot examiner. Leonard owned and operated an aerial crop spraying service for over 50 years. In and out of airplanes at an early age, Ed tried his first landing at age seven, flying with Leonard whenever he could. As a 13 year old, he flagged fields for his father during the crop dusting season. Even at a young age, Ed knew his life would be focused on flying.
Ed soloed in a 1946 Cessna 120 in 1961, earning his private pilots license in a 1948 Cessna 170 in 1963. He earned his commercial pilots license in 1965, completing the flight instructor rating in 1966 while still in college. In June of 1966 he married Kelly and she has become a full participating partner in the family flying activities.
Both Ed and Kelly are 1967 graduates of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. While attending college, Ed worked at the airport to pay expenses. He completed the advanced ROTC course and went through Officers Training at Lincoln Air Force Base. Later that summer, they bought their first airplane, an open cockpit WWII era Fairchild PT-19, discovering the joys of "helmet and goggles" flying. Later in 1966, Ed first flew a new Citabria, delivering it to California, beginning his long association with these aircraft.
During the Vietnam war, Ed was an aircraft maintenance officer in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of Captain while assigned to the Strategic Air Command. He continued to develop his flying skills, honing his aerobatic talents, and they soon purchased a 7KCAB Citabria. After leaving the Air Force, Ed instructed aerobatics at Aerobatics Unlimited in Corona,
California, using Citabrias, Decathlons, and a Pitts S-2A. He acquired his Multi-Engine rating in a Beech 18 at Flabob Airport in 1972. He became chief flight instructor and general manager of Aerobatics Unlimited.
In 1974 they returned to western Nebraska to join Ed's father, crop dusting and instructing with Nelson Flying Service, the family business. During that year Ed finished his instrument rating. In 1977 he finished building an experimental Pitts S-1C, placing third in the Intermediate Category at the National Aerobatic Championships in Texas (it was his first official aerobatic contest). He also found time to add an Instrument Instructor rating over the next few years.
In early 1986 Ed was hired to fly copilot in a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon slurry bomber, fighting forest fires in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Later that year, Ed & Kelly embarked on a new adventure, purchasing the FBO in Sidney, Nebraska. Ed was also hired as the Airport Manager. He continued with his aerial spraying business, instructed aerobatic and primary students, and completed a Multi-Engine Instructors rating. He also found time for 15 years of night freight flying, finishing up the last 12 years while flying a Fedex Cessna Caravan for Corporate Air of Billings, Montana.
Since 1986, Ed has been actively involved in many major improvements to the Sidney airport. In 1997 the Sidney airport was named "Nebraska Airport of the Year".
In 1999 Ed & Kelly committed the resources of Sidney Aviation to a dealership and full service center for American Champion Aircraft, serving the west central U.S., and the Rocky Mountain region. These great little airplanes are a perfect fit for this area and the type of flying so popular here.
Ed has flown more than 25,000 hours in over 145 different makes and models of aircraft. He has over 11,500 hours of flying time in tailwheel aircraft. He is a very dedicated pilot who enjoys teaching his students the precision and excitement of aerobatic flight.
Ed & Kelly remain committed to customer satisfaction, while demonstrating the advantages and versatility of the American Champion Aircraft line of classic aircraft.
We have recently moved our business to the Kimball Municipal Airport in Kimball Nebraska.
We hope that you have enjoyed a little part of our history. We also hope that you will find time to visit us at Sidney Aviation. Visitors are always welcome!
~ Ed and Kelly Nelson