‘It’s been a good career’

By on October 13, 2023

Charlie Snow, to be honored for his many years in flight, with one of his planes at Outer Banks Airlines (Courtesy of Charlie Snow)
Pilot Charlie Snow flying stars of The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, on a private charter to the Outer Banks. (Courtesy of Charlie Snow)
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After more than 50 years in the sky, Charlie Snow honored with Wright award

From flying for the Civil Air Patrol at just 14 years old to running private charter flights for celebrities, Charlie Snow been airborne for more than six decades. And for his lifetime in in flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is awarding Snow with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of accident and violation free flying.

The ceremony will be held at the Dare County Regional Airport on Airport Road on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. with his son Brian and daughter Jennifer honoring him with a celebration for family and friends in the community.

The award comes with a few requirements, such as having 50 or more years of solo flying experience, and never having received any citations or your airman certificate revoked. And today, at 77 years old, Snow is still flying.

Snow, who grew up in Chesapeake, VA, says his mother was the one who signed him up for flying with the Civil Air Patrol, a congressionally chartered non-profit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.

Before that he had been a Boy Scout. And my Boy Scout troop broke up,” Snow recalled. “So I was sort of out there wandering around.”

Snow’s dad, a deputy sheriff in Wilmington, NC and a private pilot, died he was 10. His mother, raising three children and working as a beautician, tried to provide the advice and guidance his father would have. Then, one of her clients told her about this opportunity.

“My dad had been a pilot, and she knew that impressed me. So, she just came home one day, and she said, ‘Son, I’ve got some news that I think you’re gonna love. You can learn to fly.’”

So at 14, Snow became a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol and got to wear an Air Force uniform, go to encampments and do some things that an adult member of the Air Force would. “And then you get in airplanes and fly with the members,” he said.

But Snow never thought it was in the cards for him to be an actual pilot. The benefit of the program is that it was a way to fly that didn’t cost money. But becoming a professional pilot can be an expensive proposition.

“And then I went off to college at Virginia Tech to get my engineering degree,” he recalled. “And so for the next number of years, I wasn’t flying. We couldn’t afford to fly. I couldn’t afford to fly.”

Once he got his degree, Snow took a job as a civil engineer with the FAA. When the paychecks started rolling in, he was finally able to start the process of becoming a licensed pilot, and eventually, began flying for the FAA as a Collateral Duty Pilot, flying himself to his projects as an engineer and project manager designing and building control towers, radars, and instrument landing systems, among other things.

“And I saved the government hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Snow, explaining that he had sites he maintained and worked on all over the Southeastern U.S. “So I was able to fly out to all of those myself. And I could hit five or six sites in a day. Whereas, if you’re trying to fly commercially, you might be lucky if you get to one site in a day.”

In return, the government helped pay for him to get other pilot ratings, including becoming a commercial pilot. His first side gig as a commercial pilot was aerial advertising above Atlanta in 1985. According to Snow, he would fly across the city with a computer-generated sign hanging below the plane all around the metropolitan area.

“And it’s at night…So you’re flying at night generating these messages. And back then, you could fly over stadiums, and you could fly over shopping centers and malls and all that,” said Snow. “These days you can’t do that. After 9/11 you’re not allowed.”

In 1988, when he was in his 40s, Snow retired to the Outer Banks. He always knew he wanted to end up here.

“Believe it or not, my first trip to the Outer Banks was in one of those airplanes in the CAP [Civil Air Patrol],” Snow said. “We came down here, and I said, ‘this is where I want to retire.’”

Well, retire didn’t really mean retire. “I’ve retired four times,” Snow noted with a laugh.

He spent a few years working as an engineer for Quible Engineering, which had a contract with the Dare County Commissioners and the Dare County School Board to build schools. Then Snow had the opportunity to go back to work for the government and took a job at Cape Hatteras National Seashore as an engineer for the National Park Service, working on lighthouses and roads.

“I traveled to 55 national parks in 12 years of working with them. And the best part about that was that I got to fly to all those parks,” said Snow, adding that he flew himself to every single one except for Glacier Bay, Alaska.

He even flew down to his office in Ocracoke every day, which could have been as much as a six- hour trip with car and ferry.

“You know how long it takes to fly down there? Eighteen minutes,” said Snow.

He then worked for a few different companies as a charter pilot around Eastern NC until, in 2009, he started Outer Banks Airlines, Outer Banks Air Charters, and Outer Banks Aviation, which he sold in 2021.

During his time as a private charter pilot, Snow flew all kinds of people to and from the Outer Banks from across the Eastern seaboard. Many of them were families with kids who didn’t want to make the trip by car, given the bathroom breaks and hotel stops. Others had an elderly parent who couldn’t handle long travel times.

“That’s how unscheduled air carriers operate. It’s all about convenience,” says Snow.

“So sometimes you’ll fly disabled people, sometimes you fly dogs, cats, animals, all kinds of different animals. We scatter ashes, we fly bodies back home to wherever they came from if they came down here and passed away, so it’s just the whole gamut of things you do in the unscheduled air carrier business.”

And then there’s celebrities. There are celebrities who lived here, like Andy Griffith and his wife Cindi Knight, who flew with him often and once hired him to fly down to Florida to pick up her dog. There were also Saturday Night Live Actors and NASCAR drivers. Snow once received a call from Paramount once asking if he could pick up Glenn Close and fly her to the Outer Banks. She wanted to try kite surfing.

“And she was a very nice, sweet lady. And that’s the cool thing about flying for these people. They’re just ordinary people. You treat them like ordinary people. And they’re happy,” Snow observed.

Snow says he’s flown The Walking Dead stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Norman Reedus a few times, and Morgan had such a great time he posted it on Instagram to millions of followers.

“I was tickled to death. I felt like I was somebody,” Snow joked.

But, without a doubt, he says his favorite memories are those of riding in the plane with his wife and two children on their family trips. He says he feels fortunate to be able to receive this award because the odds are stacked against pilots enjoying that kind of longevity—given both advancing age and health issues.

I’ve known lots of guys who had to stop flying because they couldn’t pass the medical anymore. Some of them as early as their forties,” says Snow, explaining that if you have heart attacks and diabetes and those types of ailments, you can’t fly professionally.

“And so the good Lord was with me, and I had a lot of things going for me—a lot of support, good health, longevity, good genes and a great safety record. It’s been a good career. And I’m fortunate to get the award and I’m really excited about it.”


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room (https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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  • Just a mom

    What a delightful story!
    Thank you for sharing and congratulations to Mr. Snow on such a remarkably lovely life story!
    So glad you were able to live your dream! Very special.

    Friday, Oct 13 @ 12:48 pm
  • Ted R.

    I had the pleasure of working with Charlie at the NPS. Congratulations!!

    Friday, Oct 13 @ 8:06 pm
  • Billy Griggs

    Awesome man -Great Story

    Saturday, Oct 14 @ 6:00 pm
  • Mike M.

    Had the opportunity of working with Charlie thru the N.P.S.–many interesting projects.


    Sunday, Oct 15 @ 11:14 am