Please welcome Chip Vignolini, who joins the RAF team as PA and WV Liaison! Chip was born in Fort Myers, Florida, but feels that Western PA is home, since his family settled there when he was ten. His dad served in the Air Force and the family moved around the country quite a bit when he was young. Chip’s interest in aviation began while living on March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA, with hearing B52s flying overhead. He has pictures of himself flying control-line models in the desert with his dad.
Chip completed a Professional Pilot Program in community college and started flying in 1989. At age 19, in 1990, he earned his private pilot license. “Aviation jobs were limited in the early 90’s, so I transferred to West Virginia University in Morgantown where I earned a BS in Wildlife Biology,” Chip explains. He then earned his Executive MBA from Colorado Technical University, and has since worked for a major wireless provider for 24 years. Chip is a Sr. Engineering Manager, and his team engineers network infrastructure across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Focusing on building his career and a family, he set flying aside until 2009 when he again immersed himself in aviation. “I average 100-plus flying hours a year, have my seaplane rating and tailwheel endorsement,” he says. He flies a variety of singles in his flying club based at his home airfield, Zelienople, PA, where he serves on the Condor Aero Club as Director of Maintenance, responsible for all coordination of maintenance across the entire fleet. Chip is a Field Director for the Seaplane Pilots Association, and is FAA Drone Certified. While involved in RC aircraft, he competed internationally with gliders and precision aerobatics. “I also designed, kitted, and sold a hand-launch glider called the Ariel,” he adds.
Chip is dedicated to charitable service, and is a VP on the Pennsylvania Wireless Association board, and sits on its Foundation Board. “Our primary goals are fundraising events for charities such as Homes for Our Troops and wireless industry education,” he says.
“I have a passion for aviation and the outdoors. I spend most weekends flying to events nationwide, camping, and finding a stream or lake to wet a line,” he says. He also likes to ride motorcycles, golf, hunt, fish, travel, and snow ski, yet finds time to do all his own work on vehicles and home improvements. “I love being a part of the RAF. This organization is amazing. It’s structured, we have responsibilities. Not to mention it fits into all my interests perfectly,” Chip adds.
By Carmine Mowbray
Submitted December 14, 2023