Scott Risan joined the company in January 1998.
Scott was born on a USAF base in Okinawa, the son and grandson of pilots. His grandfather first flew in the Thirties. His father flew F-100s in Vietnam in the late 60s, then went on to fly many years with United Airlines. When he was old enough, Scott became the third generation pilot in his family.
"Dad wasn’t an instructor but he taught me most of what I know about flying…the important stuff, anyway. He died 20 years ago but I can still hear his voice in my head when I fly. He used to tell me, "Hook your a** to the plane and then put you’re a** where you want it!" Every instructor has a ‘danger level’ they’ll let you reach before they take corrective action. I think Dad usually waited until he saw his life passing before his eyes before he’d take the airplane from me and get it flying straight again. His approach made for some very memorable lessons!"
Scott officially soloed (after a somewhat “unofficial” solo in his grandfather’s Stinson Voyager quite a bit earlier…) on his sixteenth birthday and received his PPL a year later. In 1984, at the age of twenty-two, Scott received his A&P from Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, OK. In the fall of the same year, he entered the University of Idaho, studying zoology and intending to become a veterinarian. Hoping to land a summer job "wrenching" on ag planes, he called an operator in Parshall, North Dakota, his father’s hometown. "I don’t need a mechanic," was the answer. "But I sure could use a pilot…" With the ink still wet on his commercial ticket, Scott went to work flying Pawnees back and forth, back and forth, across the fields of North Dakota.
"I had all of 250 hours total time and I’d never flown a single-seat airplane," Scott remembers. "I was very tense most of the first season. My confidence level increased slowly and I grew to love the flying." He eventually accumulated over three thousand hours of ag flying. Along the way he survived bird strikes, barb wire fences and other impediments to flight.
In 1988, Scott graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in zoology and Cynthia’s phone number. The phone number proved to be the more useful. Scott and Cynthia spent 1989 and 1990 in Washington, DC, where Cynthia had a job with a consulting firm and Scott used his zoology degree briefly, working for a biotech company. They returned to the West Coast in 1991 and began managing the FBO in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. They lived in the old wood frame building over the office, which rocked and swayed in the wind as the winter storms pounded in off the Pacific. The salary wasn’t the greatest, but there were a few perks…the rent was free, and as a bonus for putting up with the low pay and living conditions, Scott’s employer bought him a complete RV-4 kit.
Scott spent six years building his RV-4…an off-and-on labor of love. Before it was finished, on Labor Day, 1996, he made an agreement with his wife: If he didn’t have the airplane done by Labor Day, 1997, Cynthia got to choose the paint scheme. Visions of having to explain a bright pink airplane every time he landed helped spur him along. Even so, it was April of 1998 before the airplane was ready for paint, and, in what can only be described as true love, Cynthia let him off the hook. When their RV-4 flew in June, it sported an attractive white and maroon paint scheme.
"I’ve had the opportunity to fly a lot of different single-engine aircraft in the last 30 years. The RV-4 is ‘head and shoulders’ above everything else I’ve ever flown…it’s just a fantastic airplane and always leaves me smiling. I feel lucky and proud to have the opportunity to work with Van and be associated with this great company."
Scott’s current title at Van’s is President and General Manager. Despite the titles, we did spot him fixing one of the toilets in the men’s room last week… he was smiling!