Flying Rotarians

IFFR is one of the oldest Rotary Fellowships and was formally established through the efforts of a dedicated Rotarian, E. Edison Kennell, of Seattle, Washington, in 1965. In countries where distances are great and communications are limited IFFR pilots have used their aircraft to help with medical and other emergencies, and several Sections hold meetings at which young people are introduced to the world of aviation. The activities of IFFR bring together flying and non-flying Rotarians alike in local section meetings all over the world. Many members have flown their private aircraft over the oceans of the earth for Conventions, fly-in events, Rotary service projects, and various other home club and district programs.

It takes a member with a heart to fly their personal aircraft to help others. The expenses and the efforts have to be borne by the owner themselves. When you have smelly feet, Fresh Fingers can help you, but when you have a heart attack, you need a qualified doctor. The members come together to help the people in such need.

International understanding has and will continue to benefit through the Fellowship.At every R.I. World Convention IFFR maintains a Booth in the House of Friendship to bring to the attention of earthbound Rotarians the manifold benefits which aviation brings to Rotary, and which IFFR members have adopted as an Avenue of Service. Flyaround trips are held after each R.I. Convention and in this Centennial year of Rotary there will be 2000-mile tour of the North Eastern States of the US after the Chicago Convention.

A History by Marcus Crotts

Complete file with other histories in PDF

Forty Years of IFFR

Marcus Crotts reminisces The International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) was organized in Seattle, WA, USA. on January 1, 1965, through the efforts of E. Edison Kennell — IFFR #1.

The World Fellowship Activities Committee approved the application on February 23, 1965. The World Fellowship Activities Committee was the official body approving World Fellowship Activities including both Recreational & Vocational Fellowships.

Each year, since this Fellowship was organized, a directory of all IFFR members was published along with the Rotary Club affiliation and the Club’s meeting day. The cross country pilot, with the IFFR directory in his cockpit, has virtually 1,500 additional flight service stations at his disposal, and many lasting friendships which have begun through IFFR. I did not join IFFR until 1968. Fly-Ins were held virtually all over the world and IFFR members provided many Rotary services.

In 1970, Victor C. Bracher of Houston, TX conducted a “Bridge the Gap Tour” to Central America which turned out to be a very exciting and beneficial event. The utility of IFFR was shown by flying R.I. President Bill Carter of Berkshire, England, his wife and daughter in private aircraft on an 11 state tour in 1975. Rotary Director, Jim Lambeth from Thomasville, NC, USA, and I organized the trip which was accomplished only by private aircraft. No other form of transportation including commercial airlines, auto, train or bus could have maintained the schedule with frequently three Rotary meetings with the Rotary International President a day.

Bill Carter often commented to me that this was the most exciting and memorable event during his term as president. Herb Pigman, a private pilot, assumed the position of general secretary of Rotary International on January 1, 1979 and joined IFFR. At that time, Rotary International President James L. Bomar of Shelbyville, TN, USA, who was also a private pilot, joined IFFR.

Herb Pigman flew a Cessna 172 Sky Hawk and Jim Bomar had a Comanche 260.

In 1980, IFFR in cooperation with the Yachting Rotarians and the Caravanning Rotarians held an “Air-Land-Sea” rendezvous in Chicago, IL, USA in conjunction with the Rotary International’s 75th Convention at McCormick Place, Meigs Airport and The Chicago Yacht Club. I. R. President, Jim Bomar, and myself arranged this function.

Even in the early days of our Fellowship, numerous IFFR members travelled virtually all over the world attending Rotary meetings and conducting service projects.

At many of the Rotary International Annual Conventions, we would conduct our IFFR General Meeting at the home of an IFFR member or an IFFR officer. I attended the one in Houston, TX in 1972 when all IFFR members attending the Annual Meeting visited the home of Vic Bracher and had a marvellous time. I also attended the meeting when Ern Dawes had a nice function at his home in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1987, seven general aviation aircraft flew from the USA to the Rotary International Convention in Munich, Germany. In route, the convoy stopped at Jersey Island to visit our IFFR chairman, Charles Strasser. IFFR has had a rich history of service and fellowship and has served Rotary in so many different ways. From the very beginning, service was always a prime consideration of the activities of our Flying Rotarians. When I look at the overall history of IFFR and the activities they conduct at the Rotary International Convention, it appears to me that IFFR and the Yachting Rotarians have the best organized fellowships and the most activity at our booths at the International Convention. Both of these fellowships could use considerably more room to accommodate our members and interested people in the Fellowships Flying and Yachting.