Representative Tom Dent
I moved with my family to Othello, Washington in 1955 at the age of five. The early years in Othello were an old west adventure as there was no pavement on the streets. They were dirt except for Main Street which was gravel. When the wind blew the house across the street would disappear in a cloud of dust. Dad taught me at an early age a strong work ethic, but also the value of water. We learned first-hand the importance of irrigation water, and I truly watched the desert bloom growing up. Most of my youth was spent in Othello, moving to Quincy for three years, and then returning to Othello. Growing up I participated in many school activities, but excelled in track and cross country. I graduated from Othello High School in 1968.
I did attend college for a time after high school but I had a burning desire to pursue my childhood dream of Rodeo. I followed the Rodeo trail for several years riding bareback horses, Wild horse racing and occasionally riding Bulls. Rodeo is a great teacher about life, companionship and never giving up. I experienced both failure and success in the world of rodeo, bucked off much more than riding. Learning to count on your partners and knowing they were counting on you as well, to let them down was unthinkable. To know the pain and injury’s that can come with the sport and riding anyway, never giving up, or as we were fond of saying COWBOY UP! A world of lessons, lessons of life. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to rodeo.
I also became an over the road truck driver and traveled most of the western United States, driving solo to points all over the western United States beginning at 19 years of age. I also spent time working as a cowboy and general ranch hand on various ranches in eastern Washington.
In my mid-twenties I realized the time had come to change my path. I pursued a career in Aviation, beginning my flight training in 1975, and becoming an employed professional pilot in 1976.
My early aviation career was that of a corporate pilot. In my spare time I would teach flying, and broke into the world of crop-dusting. In 1977 I started Tom Dent Aviation as a flight school and pilot service company, while maintaining employment as a corporate pilot, and filling in as a crop-duster as time allowed. In 1982 I moved to Moses Lake, to work as a Spray Pilot, eventually starting my own crop-dusting company under the banner of Tom Dent Aviation in 1984. My first month in business was very trying, as I had a propeller break which put the airplane down and set us back financially. My wife Dayna and I bucked up and persevered, borrowed what money we could and didn’t look back. 2014 was the 31st season for Tom Dent Aviation, after which I sold the business to my competitor.
Having accumulated well over 20,000 hours in the air, I currently hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate multi-engine airplane with commercial privileges single engine airplane. I am also a certificated Flight Instructor for single & multi engine airplane and instrument airplane, as well as a basic, advanced and instrument ground instructor.
Drift management for the aerial application industry has been of keen interest to me and for that reason I have devoted my efforts to producing two videos on the subject. I am pleased that one of the videos has enjoyed worldwide exposure and used as a training model in several states. In addition to those endeavors, I enjoyed writing a monthly opinion column for Ag Pilot Magazine.
The Moses Lake Municipal Airport is managed by a commission appointed by the Moses Lake City Council. That is where I am based, and serve as Commissioner. I have served as Commissioner since its beginning in 1994.
I have also been active in various organizations in the community. I Chaired the Dept. of Ecology TMDL committee studying phosphate levels in Moses Lake, Chairman of the Grant County Republican Central Committee for more than nine years and longtime member and past President of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
There are a number of professional organizations in which I am proud to be associated with, including The Association of Washington Business, in which I served on the board of directors and chaired the aviation committee. National Federation of Independent Business, the Grant County Sheriff’s Posse, the Lincoln County Sheriffs Posse, the Cattle Producers of Washington, as charter member, Washington Cattleman’s Association, Washington State Farm Bureau, the Association of Washington Aerial Applicators (instrumental in founding organization), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Aviation Association, Washington Pilots Association, Life Member of the NRA, Gun Owners of America and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
I really can’t remember not having a few cows, but in 1992 I began to pursue the cattle business in a more serious manner, eventually forming Flying T Ranch. The ranch formerly ran approximately 50 head of mother beef cows and sold grass fed beef until I was elected in 2014 at which time I sold the cows. In 2003 we began raising Bison, and currently run around 20 head of Buffalo cows, and sell Buffalo, the healthy red meat. The ranch also produces and sells hay.
The Flying T Ranch LLC is located 7 miles northeast of Moses Lake, Washington. I along with my wife Dayna and son Monty live on the ranch.
I have been involved in politics since I was 14 years old, working for various candidates and very involved in the Republican Party, as well as involvement in various trade organizations. I have always had a sense of gratitude and appreciation for our way of live here in America. Freedom is a precious commodity and it is our responsibility to preserve this Republic for the generations yet to come. I watched when President Kennedy took the oath of office on a small television with a snowy picture and I have never forgotten his words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country “. With that in mind I entered the political world a little deeper in 2014 and threw my hat into the ring for the Washington State House of Representatives. I now proudly serve the 13th district as a State Representative.
The rest of our family is a bit spread out with daughter Aron living in Seattle and daughter Teresa lives in Okanogan. We have three granddaughters, Kelsie, Riley and Hannah and four great-grandsons, Cooper, Arlo, July and Colter with one more on the way.
My wife and I were foster parents for many years working to help young people find a direction for their future. Many of these children have experienced a poor start in life with a bleak future. We tried to help them overcome the difficulties they had known and discover the opportunities available that would allow them to succeed as any other child. Foster children bring a bright light to the world; we don’t want that light to go out. Children are our future!
On a personal and final note, when I am not in the air or representing the people, I am enjoying a wonderful life with plenty of hobbies to keep me busy including: hunting, horses, leather work, snow skiing and training in karate. Life has been good to me. With President Kennedy’s words ringing in my ears, “ask what you can do for your country.”
I am giving back. I am living the American dream. I am Blessed!!