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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Maurice R. Hovious
Maurice R. Hovious was born in Breeding, Kentucky. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1960, primarily stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. His assignment was that of crew chief on B-47 Stratojet bombers, flying missions with the aircraft. He then served four years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Hovious completed the University of Illinois' Institute of Aviation curriculum while acting as a flight instructor. His pilot ratings include private, commercial, instrument, instructor, multi-engine, airline transport, commercial helicopter, seaplane and hot air balloon. His maintenance licenses include airframe and power plant and inspection authorization.
Hovious moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1964 and became a corporate pilot for Lakala Aviation, a charter firm providing passenger and freight service to various companies. He also established Lakala's aircraft maintenance program. In 1972, he bought Lakala Aviation which merged with Kal-Aero, a major aircraft maintenance company, in 1973. Hovious was director of customer service until the sale of Kal-Aero to Duncan Aviation.
Hovious has extended experience in the repair, restoration and salvage of aircraft. He was a member of a team that traveled to Greenland to evaluate the possibility of recovering a B-29 Superfortress which had been abandoned during World War II. That aircraft was later destroyed by fire during recovery by another organization. He spent five weeks near the South Pole recovering a DeHavilland Otter buried in ice. Hovious has been responsible for the salvage of aircraft from the Atlantic and Great Lakes, as well as on-land. He is well-known by aircraft insurance companies and is requested for appraisals of damaged aircraft throughout the U.S. and other countries.
In 1990, Hovious formed Hov-Aire Inc., which specializes in major repairs and restorations of Ford Tri-Motor and Piper Malibu aircraft, as well as other types of aircraft from piston planes and warbirds to corporate jets. He restored the F-86 Sabre Jet which is on display at Michigan's Own Military & Space Museum in Frankenmuth.
Hovious is a nationally recognized expert in the restoration of Ford Tri-Motors to flying condition. He developed the technology to manufacture the corrugated aluminum skin used on all Tri-Motors. He acquired the remains of five Tri-Motors, which crashed in Montana, from Johnson Flying Service for parts. He has supervised the restoration of four Tri-Motors-three of which are currently flying. Four additional Tri-Motors are now under restoration. Hovious estimates that he has spent about 33,000 hours on the restoration of each Four Tri-Motor.
Maurice R. Hovious was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.