Rick Baptista, Student Pilot, Drone Pilot, Mars Pioneer

Ricky Baptista

This blogpost falls into the category "Local Boy Makes Good," and by local, we mean Buhl, Idaho.

Richard Baptista, more fondly known here at Foothills Aviation as Ricky or little Ricky even if he is old enough to drive and go away to college, is working as part of an undergraduate research team on two NASA projects. In other words, he abandoned us for a more exciting life, and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

University of Idaho’s alumni magazine, Here We Have Idaho, published an article highlighting the TATERTOTS (pages 10-17), a group of Idaho students who applied for and were awarded a $200,000 research grant in April 2016 to test the concept of a local positioning system that could be implemented on Mars. Craters of the Moon National Park is the best place (next to Mars) to try out their field test. The goal is to find ways to track astronauts, locate lava tubes, and determine ground temperatures using high altitude balloons and cameras.

Exploring the possibility of atmospheric life is another goal. An additional experiment will help the research team to gather data that will be shared with NASA. A high altitude balloon  will carry cameras and microbes 80,000 to 100,000 feet into the atmosphere to see how well the microbes survive at high altitude.

Ricky is studying to become a mechanical engineer at the University of Idaho, and his dream is to build reusable rockets and play golf on Mars. He has a thing for flying machines. When he’s home on school breaks, he’s a student pilot here at Foothills Aviation LLC. He loves to fly his drone whenever we give him clearance, and someday, he will fly in a reusable rocket that he made himself.

We hope he doesn't forget to come back home (and bring us a little gift or two). Candy Cane misses him.