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Dick Keyt Receives First Lee Behel AV Cup Award

By Beth E. Stanton

July 21, 2015 - In 2000, Lee Behel first flew in the AirVenture Cup Race with his 10-year-old son Jay on board. He flew the race for 15 years in a row.

But 2014 would be his last; Behel was killed in September 2014 in a crash during a qualifying heat in the 2014 Reno National Air Races.

The AirVenture Cup Race organizers decided to pay tribute to their fallen comrade by creating the first Lee Behel Excellence in Air Racing Award this year, and the first recipient is Richard C. “Dick” Keyt. He received the award Sunday evening at the AV Cup annual awards banquet.

Behel was a talented, multi-faceted pilot. His remarkable achievements spanned military service with the Nevada Air National Guard flying fighters for 25 years, as founder of the Sport Class and co-founder of the Jet Class at the Reno National Air Races, piloting submarines, and setting world air speed records.

AirVenture Cup Chairman Eric Whyte and staff volunteer Michael McEvoy decided to commemorate Behel’s exceptional contributions to the sport of air racing with the new award.

“He was a person who exemplified everything good about air racing; the competitive spirit, the innovator, pushing the envelope, a risk taker, but a calculated risk taker,” McEvoy said. “We all have a little bit of that in us, but Behel had a lot of all of that in him.”

In choosing Keyt as the first recipient, Whyte noted, “It was the first time that the committee has unanimously agreed upon anything.”

Behel’s son Jay described his reaction when he found out about the award, “I was just blown away. What an incredible tribute to my dad. This is where the two of us started bonding. It was really what introduced me to aviation and brought me closer to him.”

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