July 26, 2022 — With great sadness we must tell you that our dear friend Dave Higdon has passed away. Dave was a co-founder of the Uncontrolled Airspace podcast, and a colleague of unlimited talent and generosity.
We'll both have much more to say about Dave in future podcast episodes, with others who also knew him well. We have every intention of continuing the podcast, though it certainly will not be the same without Dave.
We'll pass along information about arrangements when we know them. But in the meantime we're sure Dave would say, "Go flying!"
— Jack and Jeb
Send your condolence messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be posted here. Jack and Jeb will see them. And they will be forwarded to Dave's family.
Click for tweets seen via the @classgairspace twitter.
Tom, Sep 4
I just wanted to add my condolences to Dave’s family and friends; we have a lost a true gentleman and warm spirit who embodied the best of GA. Hopefully, he set an example in many ways which others will emulate. I smile at the memory of his voice, his welcoming smile, engaging personality and shared wisdom from when I met all the UCAP team several years ago at Oshkosh.
Bill, Aug 23
Hello Jack and Jeb,
I am behind on podcasts and just started listening to UCAP 1052 on my way to work this AM, I was saddened to hear about Dave's passing, my condolences to you and all of Dave's other friends and family. UCAP was the first podcast I subscribed to way back when podcasts were new, so it's been a pleasure having Dave (and you two) share his knowledge over all these years, he will be missed.
Michael, Aug 8
Greetings Jeb & Jack,
So sorry to hear about the loss of Dave. He was a excellent part of the podcast. His aviation knowledge was amazing.
I don’t have a specific memory of him except that I had to chuckle each time you could hear his house phone ringing in the background during an episode. I am sure it drove Jack batty. I think I heard it twice in his last episode! Maybe you should do a little sound clip of it and slide it into the background of occasional future episodes just so we can laugh and remember Dave!
Jonathan, Aug 6
Jack, Jeb, Dave’s family and friends, and UCAP listeners,
My condolences on the passing of Dave. I’ve listened to every episode going back over twelve years and will miss Dave’s witty wisdom. But Dave was more than one of the voices in my voice in my head.
In 2010, I started to think about buying an airplane and getting back into GA as my military flying career was closing in on 20 years. Airplane ownership seemed daunting. But hearing Dave’s stories of flying his Comanche with his bride Annie resonated with me, and nudged me into buying my Cessna Cardinal in 2012. General Aviation has been an important part of my life since. In addition to my annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh each year, I participate in Young Eagles flights, introduce friends and neighbors to GA flying, and I volunteer for Pilots N Paws. GA flying (and airplane ownership) has enriched my life, both in terms of the enjoyment, privilege, and freedom, as well as the opportunity to give back. And all of it is directly attributed to Dave Higdon.
I had the pleasure of meeting him at Sun N Fun a few years ago. I introduced myself as a UCAP listener and we spent a few minutes talking about Cardinals and Comanches. He was as genuine in real life as he was on the podcast.
After hearing the sad news this year while camping under the wing at OSH, I raised a local craft brew (which I may or may not have flown in to OSH 😬) to Dave. You made a difference in my life. Thank you.
Blue skies and tailwinds.
Cessna Cardinal Owner
Alex, Aug 3
Jack and Jeb,
I just wanted to express my sincere condolences to you and Dave’s family.
I have been a UCAP listener since around episode 6 or 8. Back then I was fresh out of university in the UK with a crazy idea of pursing a career in general aviation. I had heard about these new podcast things and did a search for “general aviation podcast” on iTunes. UCAP was the first to come up and I have been a listener ever since. Listening to you guys kept me in touch with my dream as I saved up the money for flying lessons. I moved to New Zealand about a year after you started the podcast and fulfilled my dream. Some 16 odd years later and I’m still at it, you guys have kept me company along the way.
Although I have never met any of you in person I somehow feel like I know you all. It was always my intention (and still is) to make it over to Oshkosh one year to say “hi” in person. Unfortunately life gets in the way and I haven’t made it yet, I’ll keep trying I promise.
Although it will not be the same I look forward to hearing a lot more from you in the future.
Mike Harris, July 30
Jack & Jeb,
Dave will be so missed by so many. My fondest memories of Dave are similar to the sentiments that Jack shared about how welcoming and encouraging Dave was when Jack joined the Oshkosh newspaper staff.
I was a long time UCAP listener, having gone back and listened to every single episode, when I became a Sun ‘n Fun Radio volunteer. I had learned about SnF Radio from UCAP. I had also started my own podcast, Why We Fly, which was very much inspired by listening to UCAP.
Now a novice Aviation podcaster myself, through SnF Radio and Camp Bacon at Oshkosh I became acquainted with Dave, Jack, and Jeb. What struck me about Dave is how approachable and friendly he always was to me. Here I am - a total newbie at Aviation journalism and only a podcaster anyway - and then there’s Dave with a lifetime of real deal professional journalism experience. Yet every time I run into Dave at the Media Center or SnF Radio station, he’s talking with me like a true colleague and just could not be any nicer. He would give me tips from his decades of experience about how to pursue the interviews I wanted at Oshkosh & SnF and help me understand the lay of the land during my first trips to these shows. Even as busy as he was at the shows, he was willing to spend time with me chatting airplanes and podcasting, always graciously answering all my questions.
Dave was a respected professional, passionate aviator, and genuine & kind human being. He most certainly left a positive legacy on the world and the Aviation industry, and I feel very fortunate to have known him.
Mike Harris, "Why We Fly Podcast""
Greg Marshall, July 28
I eagerly opened the latest UCAP email to see if there was a new Podcast from OSH. I admit I caught my breath when I saw the title and read the message about the passing of Dave.
I never got to meet him or shake his hand, but I've listened to enough of your shows that I've felt like I've known him as well as many of the flying friends and acquaintances who I've chatted all things aviation with while sitting on a lawn chair at the airport watching aircraft come and go.
Listening to the camaraderie the the three of you shared was always a treat. It's a great gift that you folks shared with the public to make your chats available for all to download and listen to. I know personally it's helped scratch that aviation itch during periods when I haven't gotten out flying as much as I'd like, or been away from the airfield for an extended period of time.
Dave was a wonderful ambassador for all things aviation, all types of flying, and a great example for people to learn from on how to participate in a positive way with the general aviation community.
My condolences to you, Jack and Jeb, and all of Dave's other family and friends. He'll be missed.
"Do not cry because they are past!
Smile, because they once were!"
Jeff L. July 28
It is with great sadness that I learned today of Dave’s passing through AVWeb, and then of course the UCAP episode. As Jack and Jeb both mentioned it is a shock.
I got to meet the three of you briefly at Sun N’ Fun in 2018, and was honored to meet the guys who came into my living room a few times each month and rag-chewed. I can’t count the number of times I’ve paraphrased something which was said on the podcast at various times over the past 12+ years.
As a listener, Dave’s insight will be missed. But I’m sure that’s just barely scratching the surface compared to how you Jeb & Jack are doing and feeling.
I just want to say thank you guys for great lively conversations over the years. Please keep it up!
[Lightly edited for readability.]
Ryan and Amanda Cobb, July 28
Jack and Jeb,
I met Dave in 2016 in what remains one of the most wild "small world" moments in my life to date.
While in college at the Air Force Academy I often listened to UCAP to get my GA fix. By 2015 I had become a KC-135 Navigator stationed in Wichita.
While deployed one spring I received a text message from my now-wife, Amanda, who'd taken a job at a local brewery, telling me she had a regular customer who just revealed he was a pilot and wanted to meet me to do some hangar flying over a beer. When I got home, I walked to block from my apartment to "Third Place Brewing" on the night he'd up.
At one point in the conversation, I lamented my isolation from the GA community and how rarely I get to hangar fly these days (military pilots just aren't that into it off duty). That's when Dave told me he had a Podcast to which I should listen to get my fill.
That's when it clicked: Dave, the Air Capitol of the World, a podcast... "You're Dave Higdon?!" I bellowed, "THE Dave Higdon? Of Uncontrolled Airspace?!"
Humble as he was, he demurred the celebrity status I assigned him. "I've been listening to you since college. It's an honor to meet you."
This launched a years long friendship between him, Amanda, and me. Every Thursday night at the brewery became "Hangar Fly with Dave" night. He spurred me to get back to GA flying. I ended up pursuing and obtaining my instrument and commercial ratings at his insistence.
When Amanda and I would fly cross country, we'd make the short hop to Stearman Field to meet Dave (who always jumped at the opportunity to have an excuse to ride his motorcycle out to Benton) for breakfast before continuing on our way.
We hit every brewery in town together and when my wife brewed her first beer at another local brewery, Dave was first in line for a pint. We never told him this, but we decided to adopt him as our honorary grandparent and referred to him, lovingly and in private conversation as "Grandpa Dave."
When I deployed, he'd come have dinner with us before I left. When the Air Force decided it was time for me to go elsewhere, he came to see us off and then offered a send-off on the podcast that made both of us tear up. Amanda even took up listening to the podcast to hear his voice.
When I came back to Wichita to take possession of the RV-8 I purchased, we picked up right where we left off with Dave. He seemed as excited as I was to have another aircraft owner in the world. Cue another shout-out on the podcast, for which I'm eternally grateful.
If we had known that spring day in 2019 would be the last time we'd see him, I'm sure we would have lingered a little longer after breakfast or shamelessly entertained a French Goodbye in the lobby of our hotel.
We would text on occasion in the ensuing years. He took my tail number down and kept an eye on my flying via flight aware. Occasionally I'd get a text, "How's Dallas?" or "Having fun in New Orleans?" and I'd smile knowing that Dave was flight tracking for us.
Dave was a giant to me. He was kind, generous, gracious in conversation, and a real pilot's pilot. He packed a heck of a lot of adventure into his 73 years and has the stories to prove it: I never grew tired of listening to him relate his biography, bit by bit, and I never heard the same story twice. He'd forgotten more about flying than I'll ever know, but he managed to teach me a thing or two.
Our friendship likely looked odd from the outside: Amanda and I were in our early 30s when we met him. He never seemed to notice the age difference, and comfortably related to us without ever talking down to his younger, less experienced interlocuters.
He treated us a equals, always. That might be a testament to how progressive a man he was, or just evidence of the fact that Dave Higdon was just a really, really good man.
Another thing about Dave: he so deeply loved his wife, Annie. I never had the pleasure of meeting her unfortunately, but long after she passed, he still had that look in his eyes whenever he spoke of her. Dave could bring a room to tears just talking about her.
But most often, Dave spread joy: the joy of flying, the joy of a deep and unrelenting love, and the joy the attends zealously living life.
The General Aviation community has lost an unimpeachable advocate, talented journalist, and all around good guy. I've lost a wonderful friend and a valued mentor. He will be sorely missed. The universe will forever be a better place having had David Higdon in it.
I'd like to think that wherever aviators go next, Annie is there waiting for him, with their beloved retriever Charlotte. "I've been waiting for you!" she'd say, "Pre-flight's done and she's got full tanks. We can go anywhere you want."
Ryan and Amanda Cobb
P.S. I've attached a graphic that my wife made featuring Dave's favorite quote. We framed a copy and have it hanging above our bar where we poured a beer for our friend. Please use it however and as often as you like.
July 28, 12:10 pm
I first became aware of Dave back in the 80's through his articles on the early ultralights in magazines such as Glider Rider and Ultralight Aircraft. Later I would see his articles in Avionics News, Kitplanes, AvBuyer and other places. As a journalist and photographer, Dave was the consummate professional.
For me, Dave really came to the forefront when I started listening to UCAP. His passion for all forms of aviation was infectious. Also, Dave's tireless promotion of low cost ways to get into flying must have changed many lives. The other side of Dave we heard on UCAP was his staunch defense of personal liberties and rights. His rants about the TSA and mindless bureaucrats are legendary. Dave was one of those people who always said what was on his mind but he always spoke with authority and with a clarity that few others could. He was a man who knew what he was talking about. I got the impression that Dave was also a daredevil at heart and I loved all those old hang gliding and ultralight stories. I think UCAP listeners truly believe that "Dave will fly anything". However, I also appreciated his breadth of knowledge about all forms of aviation and Dave was equally at home talking about the heavier end of the industry, instrument flight and avionics.
Although I never met Dave, I truly felt like I knew him and I learned a lot from him. He was a communicator and was bloody good at it.
Above all else, the thing I will remember Dave for is "time spend flying is not subtracted from your life span ...... ". So sad that he didn't fly more.
Condolences to Dave's family and to Jack and Jeb. We have lost a great aviator and a passionate defender of General Aviation.
Let's all raise a Leinenkugel's in Dave's memory.
July 28, 10:35 pm
Utterly gutted in reading the very sad news of Dave’s death. What a lovely and knowledgeable man he was. Dave was so good to me when I started in the Cirrus PR position. I will not forget his kindness.
My heartfelt condolences to all of you at Uncontrolled Airspace, who knew him best.
July 28, 8:50 pm
I’m very sorry to hear about about Dave.
I only met Dave (and you guys) once in Ponca City a number of years ago. I was still a relatively inexperienced pilot at the time. I was one of the last planes to fire up to head home. I was running through my checklists and I looked up and saw Dave with this big grin just watching me. He stood by the whole time grinning until I took off. It made me a bit nervous at the time but, I often think back on that. It just makes me laugh.
July 28, 8:46 pm
Hi UCAP gang
Sad news as I tuned in this morning (Aussie time), I have had the privilege to listen to your great podcast from conception.
I was hoping one day to get to Oshkosh and meet you all in person (but life and COVID got in the way), I am devastated to know that I will never meet Dave in person.
Please keep the podcast going for he would hate for it to stop.
Condolences to his family and friends.
Cheers Aussie Dave
July 28, 8:35 pm
My sincerest condlence on the passing of Dave Hidden. I have been listening to Uncontrolled Airspace since episode 1, ever since I got my US private pilot license in 2006. Even though I never met him in person, Dave (and the two of you) have been part of my flying life, and part of that great adventure we call General Aviation.
Dave, blue skies and tailwinds on your last flight!
July 28, 11:22 am