R. “Rick” Broome (1946 - ) is a
true fine artist and historian. A self-taught individual -- who married
his childhood sweetheart over 50 years ago -- the artist claims his
creative efforts are truly a family experience. All of their true family
creative artwork and writings should be regarded with the same kind of
love that went into creating their paintings. The Broome Vault of
completed, as well as concept artwork; spans over 65 years.
Rick Broome’s family are decedents of early Pioneer Coloradan family
roots dating to his great-great grandfather William A. Watson who moved
from Tennessee to Fountain and then to Pueblo in 1859. As a youngster
Rick fell in love with flying and aviation before he was seven years
old. He recalled his first flight in a Stinson Station Wagon from Pueblo
to Denver. “On takeoff the first thing I saw out the copilot’s window
was the shadow of the aircraft separating from the tire! Then when we
got to Stapleton in Denver we parked right at the end of the terminal
where there was a nice restaurant.
Right next to us were a couple DC-3s which looked like giants next to
Mr. Ballantyne’s red Stinson 108 "Station Wagon.” Rick flew many times a
month after that first flight with his childhood neighbor and best
friend John Lee Ballantyne’s parents John and Ruby Lee Ballantyne. They
were almost next door neighbors in Pueblo, Colorado. Both had flown
during WW II and Ruby Lee was also a WASP pilot. John Lee stayed in
aviation and was inducted into the EAA Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Rick's first efforts with drawing and painting aircraft began as a
child. He was a Boy Scout and earned the Aviation Merit Badge. As soon
as he was 13 years old he left the Boy Scouts and joined the Pueblo
Colorado Civil Air Patrol as a cadet. He stayed active with the CAP
becoming a Senior Member when he was 18 years old. "The Civil Air Patrol
was a huge help to me during my teenage years. I loved every aspect of
the CAP and got to fly a lot too. I was in a Piper Cub waiting to take
the active at Pueblo when a United Airlines jet airliner taxied up
behind us and stopped only a few feet short of our airplane!" I took
movies of that event and hope to get them on DVD sometime soon."
Encouragement for Broome as an artist began as early as he could start
coloring inside the lines. At age 7 he won a national coloring contest
sponsored by the Better Homes and Gardens national magazine. This was
when he was drawing and coloring aircraft from every era. His passions
in aviation and flying were encouraged by his parents and friends. By
the time he was 15 years old he was taking private commissions for
original art from pilots in both the Denver and Pueblo areas. These
early sales combined with true focus allowed young Broome to solo on his
16th birthday. He was checked out in 8 different aircraft within a month
of his solo and logged hundreds of hours flying time while still in high
Rick and Billie were married soon after Rick graduated from high school.
They moved to California to allow the young aviator to attend college at
Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood, CA. They were in the Los
Angeles area from 1965 – 1971. During this time studies were completed
in the college program “Aircraft Maintenance Engineering.” This course
study allowed that Broome qualified for and was issued both FAA Airframe
and Powerplant Ratings when he was only 21 years old.
They have two grown children and 3 grandchildren. The oldest Lisa was
born 3 years after they were married and their son James arrived in
1972. James has been running the family business since 1997; Rick taught
both kids how to paint. Lisa and James are exceptional artists and help
their Dad a lot. Billie has an exceptionally excellent sense of color,
balance, and perspective. She has been helping Rick with every painting
he has created since they were 17 years old.
Beginning as an airline mechanic at Flying Tigers he quickly was
recruited by United Airlines management who had considered him to be
their “Golden Boy” since Broome was a young 14 year old kid. Rick
actually rode his bike out onto the ramp at Stapleton in Denver on June
3, 1961 and met some pilots and ground crew. They were preparing a DC-8
and Boeing 720 for takeoff on a training flight. At the age of 23 Rick
was offered a pilot position with United as a flight officer candidate
school. He loved his job as an A&P mechanic working the flight line and
hangar area at LAX.
Rick switched from watercolors and oil paints to acrylics when they were
being developed in 1968. The United Chief Pilot allowed Rick to hang
completed original paintings in the crew lounge at LAX and soon they
were selling off the wall quicker than Rick could complete the acrylics.
Soon he was taking private commissions. Soon Rick was also allowed to
put up painting displays in the crew lounges at San Francisco, Chicago,
and at the Denver training facility.
In March 1971 Rick and Billie moved their family back home to Colorado
where Broome was scheduled to attend Boeing 727 flight engineer classes.
The training class was postponed and then cancelled dashing the young
aviator’s childhood dreams of becoming an airline pilot for United. At
the time they moved into their new home they had over 156 commissions on
the books for new paintings. Their new neighborhood was also full of Air
Force Academy graduates and other military pilots. Soon the basement
studio -- complete with wet bar -- was the local watering hole for many
USAF officers after hours. Rick loved the company and Billie has always
been the perfect hostess.
In 1971 Rick and Billie were also fortunate to begin meeting young
officers returning from flying missions in Vietnam with new assignments
to teach cadets at the Academy. The cadet leadership of the Air Force
Academy class of 1974 was so pleased with his paintings that they
commissioned an original painting of a USAF Cessna T-41 trainer for
their Class Gift to the Academy at graduation.
This set the precedent for Broome’s devotion to the Academy and their
annual graduation class paintings. “The relationships we made with many
of our cadets went on to become lifetime events for which we are very
thankful. I know I have fed far in excess of a thousand cadets!” said
Mrs. Broome during a recent interview."
Rick’s final flight in the cockpit of a United airliner was on November
7, 1970 when he rode jump seat on a 4 hour training flight in a brand
new United Boeing 747. “I got to fly the Boeing 747 back from Las Vegas
in the left seat. Braniff Airways skipper the late Captain Len Morgan
was my copilot. "Len asked me what I thought the bird felt like and I
replied it reminded him of flying a C-47.”
Len’s eyes got real big and he replied “You have flown a DC-3?” And then
Rick told him how -- at the age of 14 -- he had indeed flown a USAF C-47
from Lowry AFB in Denver to the Academy and back as part of his Civil
Air Patrol Summer Encampment activities! United Captain Ed Mack Miller
and famed aviator and chart maker Elrey B. Jeppesen had begun mentoring
Rick when he was 14 years old.
Rick has flown about 2200 hours in 47 different aircraft. In addition he
has completed nearly 3000 original paintings which are on display
throughout the world.