Pilot and RAF member Perry Null ignited a multi-generational love of flying, especially exploring the backcountry. He began flying “late in life” and often flew between his home in Gallup, New Mexico and Texas in his Cessna 210, and his Cessna 206. He modified his current craft, a 1976 I/O 550-powered 182 with VG’s and 28-inch mains for backcountry flights, and he and his wife Sandra select interesting airstrips, often from Galen Hanselman’s books, and head out together.

His son earned his pilot’s license at age 17 and now flies the 206 with his family of five. “I have nine grandchildren,” Perry says, “Six live right here in Gallup,” which makes it easy to take them flying. His 14-year-old grandson really enjoys going with Grandpa to Mystic Bluffs (NM56), and looks forward to getting his license and landing there by himself. Perry’s granddaughters love to fly, too, and he gives them the opportunity often. 

Perry settled in Gallup in 1959 from Texas, and he operates Perry Null Trading Company, where you’re invited to “Join us in Celebrating the Culture and Craftsmanship of the Native Americans, specializing in authentic native art, crafts and jewelry.” Perry has been in the business for 50 years. Sandra works in the commercial insurance business, and manages to get time off to enjoy flights with Perry.

Folks have seen the couple volunteering at Negrito work parties many times, installing new fence and painting runway markers. Sandra pitches in to wash dishes, while Perry always helps cook. They have volunteered at many other states’ events, as well.

Each year in late summer, Perry, Sandra, and their son Jason help organize the Mystic Bluffs Fly-in, coordinating with owner Cindy Crawford. “This fly-in has very strong community support,” RAF New Mexico Liaison Ron Keller says. Local women create a gourmet breakfast spread on multiple eight-foot long tables, and folks from many states attend. Over the last eight years, Perry has worked with a nearby resident with equipment who volunteers to grade the runway, and they have improved the runway and parking areas. Thanks to these efforts, a fire ring, picnic tables, sun shade, and porta-potty have been added. “Perry keeps a low profile, but make no mistake, he and Sandra are very strong supporters of recreational aviation and the RAF,” Ron emphasized.

The Nulls enjoy the southwest for camping, but have ventured into Oregon, Montana, and much of Idaho’s backcountry strips. “It’s a great thing for us to do together,” Perry says. “I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who loves to camp, and loves the aviation camaraderie.” 

Years ago, Nulls got acquainted with the RAF in Utah’s backcountry and they appreciate that the RAF has expanded across the country. It has motivated them to try some of the airfields “east of Texas, where I’ve never been,” Perry says. 

“It’s such a good world, these backcountry people have made,” he says.

By Publicity Liaison Carmine Mowbray

Submitted on October 13, 2020

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