Col Stuart E. MacTaggart “Stu” Col. USAF (Ret.) passed away on February 20, 2017 at the age of 74, having spent nearly 50 years as a professional aviator; 27 of those years as a US Air Force Pilot, serving numerous tours in Southeast Asia during Vietnam, and flying over 150 combat missions.
After retirement from the Air Force in 1992, Stu flew for the Methodist Hospital Outreach Program. Later, he served as a pilot and was appointed as the Director of Aeronautics (NDA) for the State of Nebraska by Governor Mike Johanns. He continued to serve under Gov. Heineman until his retirement in August of 2009.
“Stu was appointed as the Director of the department on August 12, 2004,” said Ronnie Mitchell, current NDA director. “I had the privilege to work with Stu as a fellow pilot and remember him as a great leader and a real gentleman. He was well regarded by the aviation community and he will be missed.”
Stu was an Eagle Scout, an Admiral in the State’s Honorary Navy, and a member of several brotherhoods and fraternal organizations in the Air Force. He directed and led several youth-oriented aviation outreach programs through the State, and had a particular knack for storytelling. Stu enjoyed the mountains, hiking, and fishing with friends and family. He especially loved spending time with his grandchildren, and was lovingly devoted to his wife Kay, to whom he was married for 47 years.
“I enjoyed immensely the opportunities I had to spend with Stu and his wife Kay,” said Kim Stevens, Publisher of the State Aviation Journal. His kindness and love for aviation was both an inspiration and encouragement.”