Notable Pikeville aviator memorialized with mural

Published: Sep. 9, 2019 at 6:20 PM EDT
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The Pike County Airport acquired a new piece of art Monday after the Pikeville Main Street Program presented an unveiling of a mural painted by national street artist ARCY.

The painting, a spraypaint likeness of John Paul Riddle, was part of a series commissioned by the Pikeville Main Street Program during the 2019 Hillbilly Days festival.

Riddle was a Pikeville native who is known across the nation as an aviation pioneer. He learned to fly in the Army and later trained aircrews in World War II. He was one of the founders of the Embry-Riddle Flying School in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation in Tampa, Florida.

Among other accomplishments, Riddle was inducted into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Though Riddle died in 1989, members of the Main Street Program said this mural is a way to keep his memory alive.

"We hope when people come in they'll get a sense of our history," said Main Street Director Minta Trimble.

She said she and Main Street President Gina Roberts wanted to honor him and the others in the mural series in a unique way.

"They'll also get to see the art that we brought here that wasn't common. I mean, in our area," she said.

She said the pair discovered ARCY's work when they attended a conference in Missouri last year.

"In three days, he created three different portraits of historians from Pikeville," Trimble said.

The other portraits painted by ARCY captured former mayor William Hambley and Pike County poet Effie Waller Smith.

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