State aviators have a new way to bond and keep track of each other’s travels.
The South Carolina Aviation Medallion, handcrafted from 28 ounces of bronze into a large aviation-themed medallion, was created as a physical manifestation and celebration of the rich aviation heritage of the Palmetto State.
The 2-pound S.C.A.M. made its debut when Ridgeland aviators Claude Dean and Charles Pinckney took the medallion on its first official flight from Ridgeland-Claude Dean Airport Jan. 17.
It was a calm Saturday morning as Dean and Pinckney prepared for the flight and stood by for the airport’s naming ceremony in Dean’s honor. He’s been chairman of the Jasper County Aeronautics Commission for 45 years and his father originally owned the property that the airport sits on today.
As he stood by his sky blue 1956 Tri-Pacer aircraft, he knew that flying the medal was the beginning of an exciting tradition.
“I think it’s a good idea,you know, it brings people together and it gives us something to do,” Dean said. “The guy that started this is a retired Marine fighter pilot that works at Gulfstream in Savannah, Lee Logan, and he thought we needed (a medallion) for Ridgeland, so he had one made.”
Dean said they asked him to take the medallion on its inaugural flight because he is the airport chairman.
He and Pinckney flew around town for a little bit before handing it off to seven other pilots that day. One of them took it to Hilton Head.
According to the South Carolina Aviation Medallion website, “It is intended that the medal be flown by aircraft owners and pilots in the course of their normal flying routines and be handed off to other pilots to continue its journey of promoting aviation and sport flying throughout the region.”
The medallion was designed by Ed Gillies, sculpted by Steve Posson, an accompanying carrying case was created by Abby/Flight Line Interiors and contains a logbook to allow pilots to document the flights they share with the medallion.
One side of the medallion depicts the first aircraft in the state flown on July 4, 1911. The reverse side pays homage to the S.C. aviators, asking them to “fly it all, log it in.”
Creator of the S.C.A.M. initiative Lee Logan said the idea may be new to state aviators, but it is a nation-wide tradition.
“In fact, years and years ago, flying around in the service, we had something like this that went around with a log book,” Logan said. “The aviators of the world used to connect…you might be in Beaufort and you’ll look and see it’s been on an Australian Submarine, with the Polish squad, or in South Korea. It was just fabulous to go through the log book and see where all it had been.”
Logan, a Jasper County resident, said it occurred to him to create something similar to promote and benefit the aviators in South Carolina. He said working at Gulfstream gave him the connections needed to make the vision a reality.
And now all state residents can join in on the fun.
There is a tracker with the carrying case that allows viewers to check in on the whereabouts of the medallion. By logging in on the website scavmedallion.com and clicking the “Where Is It” tab, a map pops up to show where the medallion has been and its current location.
As of Monday, the medallion had made stops in Chattanooga, Tenn., the Baltimore/Washington Airport in Maryland, and multiple stops in the Lowcountry.
Logan said he attends meet-ups with the S.C. Breakfast Club aviation group on Sundays and hopes that after hearing about the medallion, those pilots will transport the medallion around the country and bring it back to another comrade the following Sunday.
The initiative also serves to raise awareness of the value and broad utility of general aviation.
According to a press release by marketing agency AMPT Associates, general aviation contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually and employs approximately 1.2 million people.
Logan said we can see those numbers closer to home with aeronautic companies bringing big business to the state.
“With Boeing in Charleston and all the Gulfstream people living in South Carolina, there’s a lot of investment in aviation, it’s not a trivial industry,” Logan said.
He said the medallion will be a connection point for state pilots and aeronautical enthusiasts.
“We just all hope it does what it’s intended to do, encourage aviation celebration and a lot of fun for families to track its whereabouts,” Logan said. “Hopefully the medallion will help economic interests.”
For more information and whereabouts of the medallion, visit scavmedallion.com.