Our many RAF supporters have such vast and varied experience, and we’re capturing some of their words of wisdom to share with you. This month’s guest editorial is from Jim Hanson, a career aviator and longtime RAF Supporter.

The RAF Turns 20:

There is so much to be proud of on this 20th anniversary of the RAF! Searching for a way to illustrate this, it occurred to me that creating a large organization or business is much like bringing up your own child. YOU gave it life – YOU molded it into the success it has become. The success of the RAF is a reflection on YOU, the “parents.” Here are some lessons learned from my own parents, who brought up six kids, applicable to starting and managing a business, or an organization like the RAF:

  1. When the “baby” is young, it is all-consuming; you think about it every waking minute, and in turn, it keeps you up all night.
  2. In the beginning, the “baby” needs to be changed—A LOT!
  3. As it gets older, it starts to develop its own personality and identity—with or without your input.
  4. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t be more true—you need help and input from many people.
  5. The “older kids” help bring up the “younger kids”—imparting “tribal knowledge” and wisdom to the younger kids, as well as helping out the parents.
  6. As an adolescent, the kid thinks he or she knows everything, and will only find out after making mistakes that they do not.
  7. As your “youngster” matures, you take increasing pride in their accomplishments.
  8. As it reaches adulthood, your “child” has fully assumed its own identity, and you realize it can function without you. You can (and should) be proud of that fact!

That has certainly been the case with the RAF!

To continue the analogy of a person or organization growing from a young child to an adult, I offer the following examples from my parents (and you likely heard it from your own). Whether bringing up kids, or starting a business or organization, these attributes are applicable:

  • “Always associate with people smarter than you” (in my case, that isn’t a problem!).
  • “Don’t make promises you can’t keep”.
  • “Under-promise, and Over-deliver!”
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help—we all need it at some time, and you can learn from the failures of others.”
  • “By helping others, you often help yourself.”
  • You have one chance to make a “First Impression”.
  • The most valuable commodity you have is people’s confidence in you to “do the right thing”—don’t let them down.
  • “Just because _____ acts that way doesn’t mean YOU have to! Be your own person!”.
  • “Do a few things, but do them well.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—we all make them—but be sure to learn from your mistakes.”
  • “Much can be accomplished if you don’t care WHO gets the credit!”
  • “Respect (and reputation) is earned, not granted.”
  • “It’s not WHO you know—it’s who knows YOU—and what you stand for!
  • “If you ever want to make a friend, ask THEM to do YOU a favor!”
  • Those that give themselves so their progeny can have a better life are to be admired—“the kids are gonna be alright!”

I would have to say that the RAF “checks all of the boxes” when it comes to dealing with others. Perhaps these are the secrets to their success!

Click here to read about how the RAF aided aviation in Minnesota, which is when Jim first got involved with the RAF.

Jim has been flying for 60 years and been in the FBO business for 54 years. He is type rated in 4 jets, and flies helicopters, balloons, gliders, single and multi engine seaplanes and instructs in all of them. He has flown to 83 countries around the world, plus Antarctica. He has owned 487 airplanes (and brokered about twice that number) and flown 373 unique types, but his “pet” airplane is his first one, a Cessna 120 that he repurchased and restored. Jim flies a corporate King Air 200. Jim writes for several aviation publications.

Submitted on April 26, 2023.


  1. Amy on April 27, 2023 at 9:53 am

    Jim is a staunch and passionate RAF supporter and a force in Minnesota aviation! We are fortunate to have him here in MN and as an RAF supporter.

  2. Tim Clifford on May 1, 2023 at 6:37 am

    I always smile when I see Jim come in the room at an RAF event. I know I’m going to come away having learned something and by that a little smarter. He doesn’t say a lot but when he speaks, it is wise to listen. Now, having read this I see why his contributions have been so strong for our organizations. What a foundation to live by or build an organization.

  3. Kirk Hiner on May 1, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    I’m fortunate to have known Jim for a long time and flown with and learned from him. He is a great
    RAF guy as he is always willing to share his knowledge to help others become better pilots. Kind of
    like that generous spirit that he is talking about the RAF promoting.

  4. Vincent A Stubbs on May 2, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    I’m proud to count Jim as a mentor and friend.

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