Rich Grinnell was born in Pocatello, Idaho to Jim and Barbra Grinnell. Growing up, Rich had always had a passion for aviation. Some would even call him an airplane nerd. He was always building models, reading anything aviation related, and attended airshows with his family, all which helped fuel his passion and later pursue a career in the aviation industry. Rich says that his biggest influences are his parents, who always encouraged him to chase his dreams.
In 1991, Rich joined the Navy right out of high school at the age of 18. He attended Boot Camp at the Naval Station Great Lakes in Lake County, Illinois. After boot camp, Rich was stationed on the U.S.S George Washington (CVN-73), a brand new aircraft carrier. As such, he has the distinguished title of plank owner. The term plank owner refers to someone who was around when the ship was being built and has “ownership” of a plank on the main deck. After his service in the Navy, Rich returned back to Idaho where he would later meet his wife, Diana. They married in July of 1997. Not long after the wedding, Rich and Diana moved to Lawrence, Kansas so Rich could begin college at Haskell Indian Nations University.
In the summer of 1999, Rich and Diana moved from Kansas with their new baby girl, all the way to Logan, Utah. In the fall of that year, Rich began classes at Utah State University. He graduated in 2002 with his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Science.
Right after graduating from Utah State, Rich was employed by the Avcenter, Inc. in Pocatello, Idaho. Overtime he progressed into different roles. He began as a flight instructor, flew freight, air attack, and eventually he was flying charters and air ambulance. This gave him the opportunity to travel all over the United States and Canada.
In 2009, Rich became employed by Intermountain Health Care Life Flight at the St. George, Utah base flying their Beech King Air B-200’s. So Rich, Diana and their three kids, Kyeirra, Richie, and Kayden all packed up their things and moved to St. George.
While working for Life Flight, he became heavily involved with Western Sky Warbirds which was owned by museum president, Mr. Jack Hunter, USAF Col. RET., who also happened to be Rich’s Chief Flight Instructor at Utah State. Volunteering at the museum gave him the opportunity to meet Kay Eckardt who took Rich under his wing and helped him get type rated in the T-33 Shooting Star. To this day, Rich still flies the T-33 right alongside Kay to airshows all over the Western United States.
In the fall of 2015, Rich met Marty Tibbits. Marty had a De Havilland Sea Venom that he was looking to donate, and he had asked Rich if he wanted the aircraft. Rich humbly accepted Marty’s offer. With Marty’s encouragement, Rich created a nonprofit organization, Red Rock Warbirds, which was later renamed in January 2018 to Forgotten Warbirds.
In 2017, Life Flight relocated Rich and his family to Salt Lake City. He received his type rating in the Citation Cj series in October 2017. After a year in Salt Lake, Rich and Diana finally bought a house where they were able to get the family settled and the boys ready for school.
With all that sitting safely behind him, he has now become more focused on getting the Sea Venom back in the air where she belongs.