“I am pleased Ronnie has agreed to serve as the Director of Aeronautics,” Gov. Heineman said. “He has a wealth of experience that ranges from flying Cessna 152s to Boeing 747s, and he has piloted many of the flights I have taken. Ronnie understands Nebraska’s aviation issues and I have full confidence that he will continue to serve Nebraskans well, as he has during his seven years with the department.”
Mitchell, 68, has been an executive pilot with the department since 2002. Additionally, he is the writer, editor and photographer for the PIREPS state aviation newsletter with 3,700 subscribers.
Mitchell has logged more than 13,000 flying hours since beginning his aviation career in 1965 when he enlisted with the U.S. Air Force.
He served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years, achieving the rank of full colonel. While at Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Bellevue, he was selected as command pilot for SAC’s senior staff. He managed 14 aircrews flying worldwide reconnaissance missions and flew more than 100 highly-classified long-range reconnaissance missions during the Cold War era. He also served for three years at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. After retiring from the Air Force, he spent 11 years as a commercial pilot and captain for United Airlines.
Mitchell has a degree in business from the University of Evansville in Indiana and a master’s in counseling from Troy State University in Alabama. He is a lifetime member of the U.S. Air Force Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is also a member of the Bellevue Chapter of the Eagles Club, a fraternal organization dedicated to volunteer service.
The Department of Aeronautics maintains and directs the Nebraska Aviation System Plan and the use of state and federal funding for airport development. The department oversees the state’s 81 public-use airports, manages three airports and staffs a team of pilots providing air transportation for state officials.
Mitchell’s salary will be $70,000.