Mark Hrutkay Has Gone West

IMG_5166 - Copy

We have lost one of our own here at (and and and Editor, writer and photographer Mark Hrutkay passed away unexpectedly on May 10, 2019 at age 59.

Although many people have seen his fantastic photography and writing displayed on our pages, few, except some of our family of around two dozen contributors, knew of his tireless support of aviation history, and of our efforts to tell stories about aviation. You could count on Mark attending the Reno air races and the EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh yearly, and the EAA’s Sun N Fun and more headlining aviation events, recording history at every chance.


As Mark’s obituary, posted by the Evans Funeral Home of Chapmanville WV read, “Mark loved airplanes and aviation and spent his retirement years attending airshows, aviation events, air races, and visiting museums, documenting and publishing articles of the events that happened there. He shot over 1 million photographs a year and spent nine months a year on the road, covering the entire United States. Mark treasured his many airshow friends across the nation and they will all miss him dearly.”

Mark was born in Pennsylvania, and after high school, went on to receive college degrees from Washington and Jefferson College, West Virginia University, the University of Notre Dame, and finally the West Virginia University Law School. He practiced Law in West Virginia, all the while being devoted to aviation, for his father was a mechanic for multiple airlines.

As one of the founding members of the staff, he offered praise and support (both emotional and occasionally, even camera equipment) to new staff members, as well as his wealth of knowledge of people, places and events to look up and visit in the aviation world.

We’ve added some anecdotes from several members of our staff who fondly remember some of the key attributes Mark displayed in everyday life. Some photos and a list of some links to many of his articles published in out digital aviation magazines follow too.



“Mark was a friend to so many. When I met him six years ago, he didn’t hesitate to take me under his wing. He believed in my photography and he believed in me as a person. He would never let me give up on myself. He was a true friend and will be terribly missed.”

Stephanie Othersen

“If it wasn’t for Mark, I would not be writing this today. It was four years ago that he convinced me to join the Photorecon Group and started a journey I had only dreamed of at that point. Mark took me under his wing and became a teacher, mentor, adviser, listener, encourager, colleague and most of all friend and brother. Mark YOU will always be “The Man”, now and forever. We will never forget you, as your legacy will live on in each and every one of us. I (we) will miss you dearly, “blue skies” my dear friend.”

[As Mark said regularly] “Live it up, these are the good old days”
Scott Jankowski

“I’ll say this…. If you want to do a REAL trip. I like to drive to shows, museums, etc.. I live in West Virginia on the east coast…. I just got back from Chino CA…. So if you want to come over for a couple weeks and tour the USA I’m up for it…. We can go visit Ken in person at his house and stay for a week, eat all his food drink all his beer. etc…..” (I hope he was joking – Ed.)

Mark Hrutkay
Via an email he sent to Dion Makowski

“I never really got to socialize outside of aviation with Mark, usually when our paths crossed we were too busy taking photos or sharing aviation lore when our cameras were away from our eyes. He was generous with his praise of what I was doing, and also with the care of us… like iced cold water and a place to sleep during AirVenture Oshkosh in the heat of the summertime. He never would take any reimbursement for those comforts either… he was quite a generous man.

Ken Kula
Fellow Editor publisher and owner Joe Kates will add his thoughts here next week…

Mark donated a brick at the Brown Arch on the EAA Airventure Oshkosh to grounds to honor his father. (See his story about it here: ). Now we are adding a brick next to his father’s tribute to honor the memories we have of Mark’s dedication to aviation history and the friendships we developed with him.

Here are examples of Mark’s writing and photography, through links to his stories:

And, some of the photos he took to help tell his stories:

Here is a video from Mark’s son. It’s a Heartfelt message and a PSA…

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

You may also like...