The RAF welcomes Chris Arno, who will serve as a co-Liaison for the state of Maine along with long-time Liaison Andy Rowe.
Chris was born, grew up, and now lives in Dover Foxcroft in central Maine. After high school, Chris took after his father in the utility power line trade and now owns a power line construction company that he started with his father who has since retired. Chris has always had a vast interest in aviation, and during his youth had a large collection of RC airplanes. In 2019 at the age of 47, he received his private pilot license – his seaplane rating and tailwheel endorsement soon followed.
Chris has been flying a 1942 Aeronca Super Chief Seaplane and recently completed a three-plus year total overhaul of a Cessna L-19 Birddog along with his IA. “The project started with only the firewall in a jig, and the rest of the airplane built new around it,” he says. It has many performance upgrades and is rigged for wheels, skis and amphibious floats. “The lovable ‘one niner’ (L-19) turned into a bucket list item that I didn’t know I wanted,” Chis added. “I swear that I didn’t have the RAF in mind for the color scheme. My wife Diane picked out the colors for it.”
While still a student pilot owning a Piper Cherokee, Chris had hopes of building a hangar at Charles A. Chase Jr. Memorial Field, (44B) a 3,000-ft grass strip in his hometown. The airport was named for Charles A. Chase Jr. who was tragically killed in December of 1959 while flying his Cub dressed as Santa. The Chase family gifted the airfield to the people of Dover Foxcroft but neglected to stipulate that it remain an airfield in perpetuity.
When Chris learned that the town manager and board had plans to close the airport for a solar power generation farm, he joined the dedicated group of individuals who formed the Save the Charles A. Chase Jr. Memorial Facebook page. It attracted 1,000 followers along with much of the town, as well as Chase family members determined to save the airport. “The town manager was one postage stamp away from sending the paperwork to the FAA to shut down the runway when this all started,” Chris says. He was introduced to the RAF. Together with the support of RAF supporters Steve Mason, John Meade, Rene Robillard, and Andy Rowe. Wearing their signature orange, they attended public meetings along with townspeople and Chase family members. The town manager and board of selectmen decided not to close the airport. “The airport is now doing well with three new hangars that have been built since I built mine,” Chris said.
Chris is heavily involved with the charitable organization “Wings for Wishes” that benefits the Make A Wish Maine Foundation which raised over $60,000 in 2023. Wings for Wishes is held each August and brings people together from all over the country to a private airfield in Exeter, Maine. “We eat, laugh, fly, and enjoy each other’s company for a few days but most importantly, we raise money to put smiles on the faces of kids and families who might not have that opportunity without the help of Make A Wish,” he says.
“The RAF has been a big part of my aviation background already, and I have been lucky enough to meet so many great people in the organization. I look forward to seeing more good things we can do to help create, maintain and preserve backcountry aviation!
Submitted on February 9, 2024.