Ulysses Rip Gooch

I met Ulysses (Rip) Gooch in 1998. I had moved to Wichita in 1995 and until I met Rip, I had not met any other black pilots there. In the fall of 1998, Rip invited me to a meeting where the Wichita Jayhawk Chapter of the Black Pilots of America was formed. Rip and George Johnson had been long time members of NAI. They provided the group the history of NAI and the need for the BPA. Rip and George provided the new chapter with meeting facilities and funding. Rip also brought a lot more with his vast array of contacts in the BPA, FAA, and the Kansas aviation community.

An example of this is when Rip volunteered the Wichita chapter to complete one leg of the Anderson-Forsythe recreation flight. No chapter members owned an airplane at that time. A couple of us had checked out in a Cherokee 235 at a local airport. We reserved that airplane to complete the flight. However, two days before our planned departure, it developed engine problems and was taken out of service. Rip sent me to talk to another local FBO owner where I had been flying. I told Rip that I had flown every airplane in the FBO’s rental fleet and that I didn’t believe their airplanes were suitable for this mission. Rip replied that I should go talk to the FBO owner. When I spoke with the owner, he told me Rip had asked him to loan me his personal airplane (a Comanche 260) and he just gave me the keys!

Rip had a long career in aviation. During that time, he mentored countless aviators – some who went on to fly professionally and many who pursued other careers. I have been able to meet several BPA members and supporters who were mentored by Rip or mentored by someone Rip mentored I moved to Kansas City in 2001. Rip provided me introductions to several contacts in the area which led to the formation of the Kansas City Chapter.

During the BPA’s existence over the last 25 years, it was a time the Rip worked mostly behind the scenes. However, he made a tremendous impact on the BPA that will continue to ripple throughout the organization for many years to come.

Wichita Jayhawk, KS