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Mario Fontana

Mario Fontana

1908-

Mario Fontana was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan, on February 2, 1908. He has devoted his career to aviation in Michigan.

Fontana began his life-long interest in aviation with flying instruction in an OX-Eaglerock in 1929. He bought his first airplane in 1932 and received his private pilot's license the same year. Mario Fontana was the founder of Fontana Aviation and he also established flight schools at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in Houghton, and in Rochester, Minnesota. During World War II, Mario Fontana trained over 4,500 military pilots. He operated the first air mail service from the Upper Peninsula in 1938. He also served as the first manager of Ford Airport in Dickinson County.

Fontana has logged more than 11,000 hours of flight time as a pilot. In 1947, he was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission by Gov. Kim Siglet. He served until 1951. In 1963, he was appointed again to the Commission by Gov. George Romney and served under Gov. William Milliken until 1979.

Fontana was enshrined on October 14, 1988 for his dedication and contributions to Michigan aviation.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program