First ThedaStar Pilot Retires

Lee Huebscher

Congratulations to Lee Huebscher on his retirement from aviation. Lee played a major role in the startup of the ThedaStar Air Medical program and he was ThedaStar’s first pilot.

Lee’s career in aviation began as a military pilot, lying Hueys in Vietnam and Germany for the Army until 1971. His wings were pinned on in July 1969.

Following his service, Lee flew helicopters as a civilian fighting forest fires, crop dusting, and patrolling power lines. In 1974, Lee and his wife Carole moved to Singapore and Lee flew on the oil fields of Indonesia. They returned to the United States in 1976.

In 1985 Lee began working for Maxair Inc. in Appleton, flying a news helicopter. Later that same year, Bruce Botterman of Maxair was contacted by Bruce Loppnow and Steve Grode of Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah about staring a medical helicopter program.

Lee researched the market to buy a helicopter and in January 1986 he went to Provo, Utah, and brought back a Bell 206L-1 (Longranger), the original ThedaStar. Lee was responsible for outfitting the helicopter for medical transport and obtaining the certification for it. He was additionally in charge of hiring the first flight crew, which included Marshall Crandall, Ray Slavik and George Miller. Lee also provided maintenance.

 In 1986, Lee and Marshall started Chemair Helicopters Inc. and in 1988 Lee left Maxair to concentrate on his new company. Chemair continues to provide power line patrol services to the utility companies in Wisconsin and Iowa.

ThedaStar First HelicopterLee and Carole live in Abrams, and their daughter lives there too. Son Nigel lives in Alabama, where he serves in the Army as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. Lee plans to spend retirement making maple syrup and honey, traveling, fishing, hunting and playing with his grandkids.

Lee says when looking back on his 44 years in aviation, ThedaStar stands as one of his proudest accomplishments.

ThedaStar’s original pilots hired in 1986: Ray Slavik, Lee Huebscher, Marshal Crandall and George Miller