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Roger W. Peden was born June 17, 1933 on a farm south of Cozad, Nebraska. He began his aviation career at the age of 14 when he worked at the Gothenburg Airport. Instead of wages, he worked for flight time and soloed at 16.
Peden worked in Ainsworth as the first superintendent of Merritt Dam and used his airplane in this work. He began spraying part-time in a CallAir. In 1968, Peden was offered the job of Airport Manager and FBO at the Gothenburg Airport and so began the family business of Gothenburg Aviation. They offered flight training, an approved VA school, air ambulance, charter service, aerobatic training and aerial spraying.
During the Seventies, Gothenburg had the second largest flying school in Nebraska. They averaged 65 certifications a year. Roger taught advanced ratings to students from Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, California and even Canada. In his first year of instructing, Roger had 47 students.
Gothenburg Aviation played an active role in the Nebraska State Essay contests and gave hundreds of free rides to children.
The Peden’s were very active in the Flying Farmers and hosted many fly-ins. They were selected as Flying Farmer and Rancher Airport Operator of the year in 1971 and again in 1991. They also received an award for contributing to A .P. T. program. Peden provided free check rides for the Flying Farmers. For ten years the NAAA fly-in was held annually at Gothenburg.
Peden’s greatest contribution to aviation was the number of people he encouraged and taught to fly. Sadly, he passed away on April 21, 1997.