EUGENE, Ore.-To hear Robert Halvorsen, a director of U-Lane-O Credit Union here, talk about his favorite life-time hobby-flying-you would think it is as easy as driving a car. “And it is,” he insists. “It is not difficult to learn just as long as you have a sense of dimension and know when to go left or right and put on the brakes. But the real test is seeing someone who can handle the plane smoothly.” Nothing to it, eh? The 63-year-old Halvorsen, a retired management analyst and accountant, has long made flying small aircraft a rewarding pastime and pursuit. In fact, Halvorsen, who has logged more than 2,800 “accident free” air hours and holds a commercial pilot’s license, has owned four aircraft. “I think my present airplane-a six-seater Cessna turbo 206-is probably my last,” concedes Halvorsen. He has taken his wife, Iris, along with many friends and family, on globetrotting air tours – from the Arctic Circle to Mexico City. “I’ve been to the tip of Baja 10 times,” he says, proudly noting that he now averages about 130 hours a year airtime. And if you think one hobby is enough, Halvorsen, who obviously loves a challenge and adventure, is also an accomplished river rafter and accredited guide, though in recent years shooting the rapids has taken a backseat to flying. Halvorsen got into whitewater rafting back in 1978 on a lark and decided he liked the sport. Sure enough, guides at a rafting shop in Springfield, Ore. thought he was talented enough to let him become a part-time guide. Today Halvorsen takes three or four rafting trips a year. His most memorable feat was in 1983 down the entire Grand Canyon-265 miles in 18 days. While flying-and rafting-have for years provided enormous satisfaction to him, Halvorsen, who describes himself as an “efficiency expert,” has pursued a career in contract administration working for the State of Oregon Department of Higher Education and later with Oregon State University in Corvallis. He retired from OSU in 1997. But during those years Halvorsen retained a fierce loyalty to credit unions. His mother, in fact, was secretary of the Boeing Credit Union in Seattle where he grew up. When his job took him to Eugene in 1974, Halvorsen recalls being influenced to join the $500 million U-Lane-O by a CU staffer, the late Joy Hoerauf, a vivacious and outgoing individual who “was the kind of person you could learn to like in minutes.” Her job, he said, was to explain the benefits of CUs, and “she convinced me I would be better off at ULO than a bank.” Hoerauf later talked Halvorsen into running for the board in 1991, and he has been on the credit union’s board the last 10 years. He has served as vice chairman for two years and been a member of the Policy, Nominating, Personnel, Budget and Asset Liability committees. “My job on the ULO board is extremely satisfying, mainly because I work with very talented people who are focused on a common goal of delivering exceptional service to our members,” declares Halvorsen. The board does not “suffer from bickering, personal animosities or infighting which happens all too often at other credits union from what I can tell when I go to conferences,” he adds. Certainly, Halvorsen predicts, Sept. 11 will produce huge problems for CUs and other financial institutions as mergers and bankruptcies increase at a rapid pace. In the meantime, Halvorsen says he expects to devote his energies to helping U- Lane-O get through the difficult period adding, “I would like to see legislation passed enabling every citizen in the U.S. to join any CU of their choice.” As for his No. 1 hobby-flying-Halvorsen’s next goal is to “put my plane down in every state.” So far he had landed “in two thirds of the states west of the Mississippi.” Has he had many harrowing experiences? “Sure, I’ve had a couple,” admits Halvorsen, recalling his worst white knuckler occurred after the 1995 Rose Bowl on a turbulent flight home to Oregon. “The visibility was very poor, and we had to do a category two instrument clearance landing with 230 foot ceiling at Red Bluff, Calif.,” he remembers. “And even worse, Oregon State lost the game to Penn State,” he laughs. Halvorsen said his interest in planes began as a youth in the Seattle suburb of Renton where his “school was a quarter mile away from the end of the Boeing runway where the first 707s were flown.” At age 14, he joined the local Civil Air Patrol, the youth-oriented auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force whose mission was to teach cadets about aviation and military courtesy. One of the patrol’s chief jobs was to help out in search and rescue for lost aircraft and hikers. By 18, Halvorsen had been picked for CAP squadron commander, and in 1956 he won a trip to the Netherlands for five weeks as part of a goodwill exchange mission for young aviation enthusiasts. He was one of five U.S. cadets chosen, and for Halvorsen “that was quite an experience.” In 1963 he began taking flying lessons and received his private pilot’s license in 1965, the same year he graduated from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management. Halvorsen earned his commercial pilot’s license in 1967 at 200 hours and his instrument rating at 203 hours “a few days later.” Using his computer skills and administrative experience, in 1967 he moved to Salem, Ore. to work in Gov. McCall’s office of Administration as a management analyst. By 1969, he took a job with the Oregon Department of Higher Education overseeing operations for the eight state colleges and universities under its jurisdiction. “In the mid-70′s they asked me to take over computer purchasing for the eight institutions-this was the million dollar mainframe era,” recalls Halvorsen. “They wanted to be sure we bought the right things at the right price,” and so he supervised the purchase of 500 PCs for Oregon State. In 1990, OSU asked Halvorsen to take over what was called “contract administration” duties. He ended up handling more than $100 million a year in research contracts and 2,000 personal service contracts, in addition to sensitive procurements. Halvorsen does not describe himself as a fitness buff, though he does walk 30 minutes every day and has recently begun wintering in Green Valley, Ariz. But certainly one of his summer favorite pastimes will continue to be “airplane camping” in Idaho. What is airplane camping? “I guess it goes back to Idaho’s training ground for smoke jumpers, but the state has 25 backcountry road-less air strips-the most of any state-and these are places you can land and camp overnight with your flying buddies,” says Halvorsen. “This is one way you really experience the wilderness-pitching a tent under the wing and then flying on to the next camping site,” says Halvorsen. “It’s simply great fun.” – [email protected]

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