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Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinees


The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame (MAHOF) honors these men and women for their outstanding contributions and achievements to aviation and/or space. They had a vision and followed their dreams with determination and triumph.

The MAHOF is committed to recognizing these enshrinees as role models, as they inspire today's youth to follow their own vision and achieve excellence, no matter what their field of choice.

Talbert "Ted" Abrams (1987)


Talbert "Ted" Abrams was born in Tekonsha, Michigan on August 17, 1895. His lifelong interests in aviation centered on experimental aircraft, commercial airline services and aerial photography. 

Abrams served in the Aviation Section, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Corps from 1917-1919 during and after World War I. He married and started the ABC Airline (Always Be Carful) in 1922. He left the airline industry and founded Abrams Aerial Survey Corporation in 1923. He made his first aerial survey for the Michigan State Highway Department in September of 1925 using aerial cameras that he himself developed.

Since its start in 1923, the company annually completes precision aerial surveys and remote sensing for thousands of highways, transmission and pipe lines miles for states, counties, cities, and industry. Abrams himself has lived, worked, and traveled in 96 countries.

Abrams has received many honors, one of which was his initiation into the OX-5 Aviation Hall of Fame. He is especially proud of the fact he has Federation Aeronautique International Pilot License No. 282, signed by Orville Wright, and the United States Transport Pilot License No. 599. Abrams also received three honorary degrees for his contributions to aviation and to society.

Abrams was enshrined on December 17, 1987 for his long and illustrious career in developing the state-of-the-art aerial photography adopted and used around the world today. He is very proud and pleased to have had the wonderful lifelong experience of being able to make the contributions he made for a great country like the United States.

Ted Abrams

Col. John D. Amundson, USAF, Retired (2018)


Colonel John Amundson was born on January 31, 1935, in Decorah, Iowa. After graduating from high school, he studied at the University of Minnesota for a year before entering the U.S. Air Force Aviation Cadet program. In May 1956, he completed U.S. Air Force flight training in May 1956 and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He completed advanced flight training in the B-47 nuclear bomber. He served as B-47 Aircrew Commander with the 310th Bombardment Wing, Schilling Air Force Base, Salina, Kansas, until 1965, with tours of duty in Alaska, Guam, England, Spain, and North Africa. During his B-47 tour, he earned a bachelor s degree. In 1957, he married his wife, Margaret. Their five children and their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been of the utmost importance to him.

In early 1965, then Captain Amundson was assigned as a pilot of the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. In 1967, he was named Chief, U-2 Branch, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. He had U-2 tours of duty in Alaska, the Continental U.S., and Vietnam. One of the U-2 aircraft he flew now hangs in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

In 1971, Amundson earned a master s degree in computing science from Texas A&M. He was then assigned to Strategic Air Command Headquarters at Offut Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska. While at Offut, he was assigned as a C-131 pilot, in addition to his managerial duties with data systems. He was assigned temporary duty in Thailand to assist with U-2 operations in Southeast Asia, until his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel required him to stop flying.

In 1977, Amundson graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where he was promoted to Colonel. He retired from the Air Force in 1980, after 25 years of service, having last served as Director of Data Systems at Defense Logistics Services at the Federal Center in Battle Creek. The Air Force awarded him the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Legion of Merit.

As a civilian, John Amundson used the GI Bill to obtain additional flight ratings, and then served as Director of Flight Operations for three different companies, including the Stryker Corporation. He was chief pilot for the Air Zoo and flew Air Zoo fighters at air shows, including the Grumman F8F Bearcat in the historic Cat Flight . In addition, he was the FAA Designated Pilot Examiner for the Air Zoo's Ford Tri-motor, and logged more than 500 hours in that aircraft. Colonel Amundson has flown more than 13,000 hours, including 1,200 hours as an instructor in 85 types of aircraft. In 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration honored him with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for his more than fifty years of safe flying. Colonel Amundson is a life member of the Air Force Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Flying Octogenarians, and is a long-time member of ye Anciente and Secret Order of Quiet Birdmen, Kalamazoo Hangar.

Colonel John D. Amundson was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 21, 2018, for his significant contributions to both military and civilian aviation.

Col. John D. Amundson,

Col. Norman C. Appold, USAF, Retired (2008)


Col. Norman C. Appold was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 3, 1917 and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in chemical engineering. After completing his studies, he voluntarily joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately before Pearl Harbor. 

He graduated from the Aviation Cadet Training Program in 1942, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. After completing pilot training, he served as a B-24 pilot in the 376th Bomb Group Association, completing 63 missions.

Appold was involved in Operation Tidal Wave, code name of the historic low-level attack of oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on August 1, 1943. This was the first large-scale, low-level strike by heavy bombers against a well-defined target of World War II up to that time. B-24's of the 8th and 9th Air Forces undertook the 2,400 mile flight from Benghazi, Libya. Due to heavy defenses and the low altitude of the raid, casualties were high, with 53 of 178 B-24s lost, and 440 crew members killed and 220 captured or missing.

Appold, piloting G.I. Ginnie, leading four other aircraft through intense ground fire, bombed the Concordia Vega refinery and successfully returned to Libya. Appold received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism that day.

After retiring from the Air Force in 1963, Appold joined the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company where he was instrumental in the development of the C-5 and C-141 aircraft. He retired from Lockheed as a Vice President in 1984. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Appold was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, an Air Force Commendation Medal, as well as numerous service awards. Appold was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008.

Col. Norman C. Appold, USAF, Retired (2008)

Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin W.A. Bailey, USMC (2020)


Lt. Col. Kelvin Bailey was born on December 29, 1920 in Canada. His family soon moved to Dearborn, Michigan, where Bailey would graduate from Dearborn High School in 1941. During High School, Bailey made his first solo flight in 1939. 

Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kelvin Bailey joined the United States Marine Corps, hoping to be a Marine aviator. He completed boot camp and was assigned to the Marine Corp Recruit Depot Property Office. He applied for flight training and was accepted into the Navy’s Flight Training Program. Bailey received his Naval Aviator Wings and was commissioned a Marine Corps 2nd Lt. in October 1943. He was assigned to the south Pacific flying the SBD Dauntless. During World War II, Bailey flew 116 combat missions. He was awarded three Asiatic/Pacific Battle Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation, Distinguished Flying Cross, and several Air Medals.  

After World War II, Bailey flew for the Marine Corps Reserve and as a pilot for Air California Airlines. During the Korean War, he was ordered to active duty and deployed to Korea, earning two Battle Stars on his Korean Service Ribbon. After the Korean War, Bailey was selected as the staff pilot for Medal of Honor recipient Major General Christian Schilt. He flew as an Agency Pilot at Washington National Airport, where he transported presidential candidates. 

While in Washington DC, Bailey was asked if he would consider moving to California to fly as Walt Disney’s pilot. Walt Disney stated that he wanted “only the best” pilot. Bailey spent 13 years as Chief Pilot for Walt Disney Productions. After flying over 32,000 accident-free hours in 33 different types of aircraft, Bailey’s flying career ended suddenly after a car accident. Kelvin Bailey passed away at the age of 84 in his Burbank, California home, on April 19, 2004.  

For his long and distinguished flying service to his nation, and for his enduring legacy as one of our state’s most distinguished civilian pilots, Lt. Col. Kelvin W.A. Bailey is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 15, 2020. 

Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin W.A. Bailey, USMC (2020)

William A. Barber (2003)


Achiever, visionary, showman, historian and pilot extraordinaire, Bill Barber was a man for all aviation seasons and a model of unfailing professionalism and talent.

Destined to spend a lifetime in the cockpit, Barber's illustrious career got off to an early start in 1936 with his first solo flight in his native Minnesota at age 11. Later, he became a commercial airline pilot and logged more than 30,000 hours of pilot-in-command time. 

Having deep respect and affection for the bygone barnstormer era, Barber soon set his sights on becoming a top-tier stunt pilot. Over an airshow career that spanned 25 years, he developed a soaring repertoire of acts that thrilled audiences coast to coast. He entertained hundreds of thousands with dead-stick sequences, a rope ladder pickup, car-top landings, team aerobatics, skywriting, wingwalking and comedy crowd-pleasers.
Barber was an inveterate collector of showplanes. His diverse fleet included a Clipped Wing Cub, Curtiss Flacon, Bucker Jungman, Pitts Special S-IS and a powerful Black Wasp Boeing Stearman known as the "Black Baron." Amazingly, Barber one performed 14 different aerobatic airshow acts during a two-day Chicago show, shifting between aircraft of varying flight characteristics with ease and earning a well-deserved reputation as "Aerobatic Flying's Renaissance Man."

His renowned spread to include the international arena. In 1962, he captained the first United States Aerobatic Competition Team in Budapest. Barber shaped the future of airshow entertainment and competition by serving as the first United States representative to the International Aerobatics Rules meeting in Paris. Invited by ranking Washington, D.C. officials, he also played a pivotal role in the formation of the Aerobatics Division of NAA.

Barber was awarded the Wilkenson Sword of Excellence and has been inducted into the Airshow Hall of Fame and the Aerobatics Hall of Fame. In his honor, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship is presented to an outstanding airshow personality each year at EAA's AirVenture Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin-the world's premier aviation event.

An authentic, modern-day hero, Bill Barber's legacy endures as one of the most colorful chapters in the long and glorious history of aviation. He was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 11, 2003.

William A. Barber (2003)

Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, USA (2017)


Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis was born January 2, 1893, in Carsonville, Michigan.
Bitten by the flying bug early on, he received his pilot license in 1916 from the O. E. Williams Flight School, attending alongside fellow Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinees Elwood J. Junkin and Clayton J. Brukner, who would eventually co-found the WACO Aircraft Company. 

Bettis left his longtime position as manager with the Michigan State Telephone Co. on February 3rd, 1918 intent on joining the U.S. Army as a flying cadet. He began military flight training at the University of Illinois school of Military Aeronautics, and completed it at Call Field, Wichita Falls, TX in September, 1918. Assigned to patrol the Mexican border, he proved to be an exceptional pilot and was reassigned to serve as a flight instructor in the Philippines. In addition to his training duties, it was here that he became one of the first pilots to fly an aircraft at night. Rising to the rank of first lieutenant, he was transferred to Selfridge Field, Mount Clemens, MI in 1923 to join the army s elite 1st Pursuit Group, where he was eventually selected to represent the U.S. Army in the National and International Air Races. Hugely popular at the time, air races served as a test bed for new aircraft designs and innovations, and the racing circuit drew notable aviators such as James Jimmy Doolittle, Amelia Earhart, and Glenn Curtiss. Pilots and manufacturers from around the world competed to push the limits of aircraft speed and durability, and news of the latest victories made international news on a regular basis. Piloting a Curtiss R3C single-engine biplane, Bettis won the John L. Mitchell Trophy Race in Ohio on Oct. 4, 1924, setting a course record of 175.41 mph that would stand for the next six years. Eager to follow up this win, he entered the Pulitzer Trophy Race the following year. Considered the marquee event of the National Air Races, the Pulitzer Trophy race was founded by publishing magnates Ralph, Joseph Jr., and Herbert Pulitzer to encourage the development of faster and more reliable military aircraft. Consisting of 4 laps around a circuitous 32-mile course, pilots had to stay below 400 feet while completing tight turns just outside of tall pylons marking the edges of the course. There was little margin for error, and crashes and mishaps were commonplace as both pilots and machines were pushed to the limits of endurance and engineering. Competing against the world s best military pilots at the time, Bettis, a relative newcomer, piloted his Curtiss R3C through the course at a blistering 249.34 mph, setting a new World Record and earning him the Pulitzer Trophy. This new record also earned him the coveted Mackay Trophy, which was established by Clarence H. Mackay, an industrialist and aviation enthusiast, and presented annually by the National Aeronautic Association to recognize the most meritorious flight of the year .

On August 23, 1925, Bettis was piloting the lead plane in a flight of First Pursuit Air Squadron aircraft returning to Selfridge Field from Philadelphia. Flying though heavy fog, the wing of his plane struck a tree in the Jacks Mountain region of Pennsylvania. Knocked unconscious in the resulting crash, he awoke to find he had numerous injuries, including a broken leg and jaw. Concerned that rescuers would be unable to locate him in the dense woods, he crawled through the night, eventually reaching a road where he was discovered by two young boys. Sadly, he died a week later at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., after contracting meningitis. An airport in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, was named Bettis Field in his honor. When Westinghouse bought the land in 1949, they also paid tribute to him by naming their new facility the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

For his fearless and adventurous pursuit of advancement and excellence in aviation, Cyrus Bettis extols the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Maj. Gen. Richard L. Bodycombe, USAF, Retired (2010)


Maj. Gen. Richard L. Bodycombe was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1922 and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. He earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from the University of Michigan in 1948 and 1952, respectively.
In May 1944, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant after completing flying training at Turner Field, Georgia. After he completed training in B-24 Liberators, he reported to the 782n
Bodycombe earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart as a Liberator pilot during World War II. After hostilities ceased in Europe, he separated from the Army Air Corps and returned to the U.S. However, he was recalled to active duty in 1949 and assigned to the 60th Troop Carrier Group at Wiesbaden Air Base in Germany to participate in the Berlin Airlift where he flew C-47s and C-54s. When Operation Vittles concluded, he was assigned to the 7167th Special Air Missions Squadron at Wiesbaden for the remainder of his three-year tour of duty.

Bodycombe served for one year as aide to Maj. Gen. Harry A. Johnson, commander, 10th Air Force at Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan. His next assignment was the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing, which was being organized at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. He served as a C-124 aircraft commander in the 52nd Troop Carrier Squadron and later, when the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing transferred to Donaldson Air Force Base in South Carolina, he became assistant operations officer for the 63rd Troop Carrier Group.

In 1955, he was selected as a founding faculty member of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Following that key assignment, Bodycombe began a career in the U.S. Air Force Reserves that resulted in his selection as a major general, and eventually in his appointment as commander of all U.S. Air Force Reserve federal forces. He retired from the Reserves in 1982 and pursued a civilian flying career that ultimately resulted in his selection as Ford Motor Co.'s chief pilot.
In 1983, Bodycombe joined a small group of dedicated Detroit-area residents who formed the Yankee Air Museum. One of their primary goals was to obtain a flyable B-24 bomber that was built by the Ford Motor Co. in its World War II factory at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. In the following years, the Yankee Air Museum prospered and began collecting flyable vintage military aircraft including a B-17, B-25 and C-47. Bodycombe became director of flight operations as the organization began to fly its aircraft in air shows throughout the Eastern and Southeastern regions of the country.

Bodycombe's flying hours total more than 21,500 with qualification in more than 50 types of military and civilian aircraft. He currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He and his wife, Karin, have three children: Brian, Peter and Christopher. General Bodycombe passed away on January 23, 2019.

Maj. Gen. Richard L. Bodycombe, USAF, Retired (2010)

William E. Boeing, Sr. (1991)


William E. Boeing Sr. was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 1, 1881. His interest in aviation was sparked by an air meet he attended in 1910. Boeing learned to fly in 1915, and subsequently purchased a Martin seaplane. It was flown to Seattle in October of that year and finding it to be quite unsatisfactory; Boeing set out to build a better one.

Boeing was joined by Conrad Westervelt, an engineering officer in the Navy, who had the task of collecting and analyzing every bit of technical information available. On July 15, 1916, Boeing piloted the first two flights of the new B & W seaplane. Pacific Aero Products Company was established in 1916 which became Boeing Airplane Company a year later.

The company did well during World War I building trainer-type seaplanes for the Navy, but in the aeronautical drop that followed the war the company even manufactured household furniture and boats to stay alive.
Boeing never doubted that he was on the right track. In 1921, the company's first break came when it received a large contract for pursuit planes from the Army. In 1927 they received the Chicago-San Francisco airmail route. Boeing's newly formed Boeing Air Transport service flourished, and to it was added other airlines under the banner of the Boeing system, later United Air Lines.

Knowing that progress could be best made by pooling industry resources and know-how, Boeing teamed up with Frederick Rentschler of Pratt and Whitney to form the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation. Boeing served as company chairman until 1934.

United Aircraft and Transport Corporation grew to become a leader in the manufacture of multi-engine aircraft, commercial jet transports, and space vehicles. In 1934, the year of his retirement, Boeing received the Daniel Guggenheim Medal and was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
Boeing was enshrined on October 26, 1991 for his contributions to the production of both military and commercial aircraft as a leader in America's aeronautical progress in the early years of flight.

William E. Boeing Sr. (1991)

William Francis Bos (1996)


William Francis Bos was born in Muskegon, Michigan on May 22, 1933. Bill received a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in Aerospace Engineering. After graduation in 1956, he went to work for Lear Inc., Aircraft Engineering Division, Santa Monica, California designing various systems for the Learstar, including a complete electrical flap actuating system. 

He went on to Chrysler Corp., Missile Division in late 1956 as an analytical engineer where he established design criteria for ballistic missiles, analyzed stability of the suspension system for the Redstone missile transporter, and was responsible for the aerodynamics and aeroballistics analysis in the preliminary missile design department. While at Chrysler, he was assigned to the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama as part of Werner von Braun's rocket team, conducting design analysis of the aerodynamic heating of reentry bodies, including the first ablative nose cones to survive reentry.

In 1960 he joined Bendix Systems Division as a senior Engineer responsible for aeroballistics studies and systems analysis for several missile systems.

In 1962 he was appointed to the NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. as the Technical Assistant to the Director of Launch Vehicle and Propulsion Programs, responsible for advancing the state of the art in launch vehicle program design for cost effectiveness. Bill served as Executive Secretary of NASA Launch Vehicle and Propulsion Advisory Committee from 1962 to 1964. In 1965, he became Launch Vehicle Program Manager at NASA Headquarters, Office of Manned Space Flight. Bill has also published four papers on launch vehicles. In 1968, he returned to Bendix Systems Division as a Senior Staff Engineer.

Returning to Muskegon in 1970, he established Bos Engineering, P.C., a consulting firm. His many clients included the British Aircraft Corporation, for whom he designed the flight path optimization program for the Concord supersonic aircraft.

William F. Bos was enshrined on October 19, 1996 into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to the United States aerospace program, to supersonic flight and for his dedication and love of space flight and aviation.

William Francis Bos (1996)

John F.X. Browne (1987)


John F.X. Browne is a world renowned pilot and traveler. His exploits have literally taken him to all the continents and all four corners of the earth.
Browne started his flying instruction at Detroit City Airport in 1962. He earned his instrument rating in 1965 and his air transport rating in 1970. In 1971 he received Category II ILS approach authorization, the first one issued in the Central Great Lakes Region for light aircraft.

He is holder of 23 World Records on International Flights in light aircraft (Piper Aztec) including flights around-the-world, over the north pole, and transpacific.

During these flights he has crossed the Atlantic six times, the Pacific three times (north, central, and south), as well as crossings of the Indian and Arctic Oceans with landings and over-flights on all continents except Antarctica.

Browne was enshrined on December 17, 1987 for outstanding contributions in developing the knowledge required for access by general aviation in international travel. His accomplishments were many and varied. His continued travel, notably to Antarctica in 1987, the only continent he has not landed on, will be yet another accomplishment. Browne, with his diligence and foresight, has indeed assisted all of those in aviation by proving that flying is safe, enjoyable, and possible on the international level. To this end, this award is most solemnly and respectfully dedicated.

John F.X. Browne (1987)

Clayton J. Brukner (2011)


Clayton J. Brukner was raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, and it was here where he met Elwood J. "Sam" Junkin, a lifelong associate with whom Clayton shared a love of aviation. After graduating from high school in 1915, the pair became involved with the O.E. Williams Aeroplane Co. in Fenton, Michigan, where Brukner learned the mechanical aspects of airplanes.

In 1917, Brukner and Junkin headed to New York to work at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corp., followed by work at the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Co. in New Jersey. It was here that they met Harold C. Deuther, George E. "Buck" Weaver and Charlie Meyers. Between the fall of 1919 and the spring of 1920, the DBJ Aeroplane Co. was formed by Deuther, Bruckner and Junkin in Lorain, Ohio.

In 1920, Deuther returned to his home in New York and Weaver again joined the group. They established a formal company called the Weaver Aircraft Co. The first airplane built by the group was a high-wing parasol called the "Cootie." The aircraft was damaged on its first test flight and rebuilt as a biplane. In 1921 the Weaver Aircraft Co., known by the acronym WACO, built its first practical airplane, the Waco Model 4.

In 1922, Weaver left the Weaver Aircraft Co. as Brukner and Junkin moved operations to Medina, Ohio. In 1923 the Weaver Aircraft Co. closed its doors, moved to Troy, Ohio, and reorganized as the Advanced Aircraft Co., with Brukner as president and plant manager.

In 1927 the Model 10 was introduced and became the leading aircraft registered in the United States with more than 1,200 aircraft sold. In 1929 the company again reorganized and became the Waco Aircraft Co.
From 1929 to 1938, with Brukner at the helm, the Waco Aircraft Co. outsold all other competitors two-to-one. Wacos, consisting of both open and closed cockpit biplanes, were found in 36 countries, making it the most successful aircraft company in the United States.

Following World War II, the Waco Aircraft Co. made the decision to stop producing aircraft. Brukner sold the company to Allied Industries in 1963 and it closed its doors for good in 1965.

Brukner passed away on December 26, 1977. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011.

Clayton J. Brukner (2011)

Professor Harm Buning, Retired (2020)


Professor Harm Buning was born in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 31, 1922. He grew up in Holland and came to the United States in 1945, sponsored by his uncle, renowned physicist and teacher, George Uhlenbeck. Arriving in Ann Arbor in December of 1945, Harm received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan (U-M) in 1949 and 1951. After a three-year teaching position at Oregon State, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant professor, rose to professor in 1963. 

Harm’s early interest was in aerodynamics and aircraft performance, but as the Space Race began, he realized the importance of astrodynamics and became an expert in mission analysis and spacecraft design. It is estimated that Professor Buning taught nearly all the U-M Aerospace Engineering’s 2,600 graduates during his 40 years of teaching. Some of his students include, Gemini IV astronauts Jim McDivitt and Ed White, Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, and Al Worden, and Skylab 2 astronaut Jack Lousma.  

Ed White invited Harm to the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas to teach orbital mechanics to the first two groups of astronauts. Professor Buning would make many trips to Houston to teach astronauts orbital rendezvous and docking: skills that would prove crucial for success of the manned lunar landings and space station programs. Professor Buning’s students at Houston included those he taught at the U-M, as well as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and many others.  

Harm Buning was awarded the Thurnau Award for teaching excellence in 1988. Professor Buning retired from U-M in 1992. Harm Buning passed away on May 12, 2006. He has a graduate teaching award and scholarship fund named in his honor.  

For his dedication and contributions to education, aerospace, and spaceflight, and his legacy as a professor and mentor to many of our nation’s spaceflight pioneers, Harm Buning was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 15, 2020.

Professor Harm Buning, Retired (2020)

Peter H. "Pete" Burgher (1995)


Pete Burgher was born July 18, 1932, in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Later becoming a pilot, world traveler, author, and aviation record holder, Pete's love of aviation started at age six when he rode shotgun for his uncle delivering new Luscombe aircraft to customers in the eastern states. He received his private pilot's license in 1960, and holds additional ratings of commercial pilot with instruments and multi-engine land and sea. He has a total of 7,000 accident-free hours.

Pete's professional career started at Santa Barbara College in 1950, where he majored in political science. He went on to earn a Master's Degree from Columbia University in 1956, and from there began work at the international accounting firm of Arthur Young and Company, where he was made partner in charge of Michigan offices in 1972. He retired from Young and Company in 1979.

In 1980, Pete purchased Marelco Power Systems in Howell, Michigan. During the ensuing years, Pete's interest in aviation continued to develop, eventually leading him to become the Acting Chairman of the Rhode Island Governors Air Transportation Development Committee, chairman of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission from 1975-76, and the AOPA's regional representative from 1985-1994. Pete also founded the Flight Freedom Foundation Inc., to preserve and protect the general aviation system in 1994.

Pete has set 56 world class and U.S. National records flying his MX-1 Ultralite from Detroit to St. Petersburg, Florida during the week of July 25-31, 1982. He also set a world record flying his twin Comanche from Fort Myers to New Orleans in October, 1991.
Peter H. "Pete" Burgher was enshrined on October 14, 1995 for his lifelong dedication to general aviation, the community, and education.

Peter H. "Pete" Burgher (1995)

Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee, USAF, Retired (1998)


Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee was born October 3, 1932 in Delton, Michigan. After graduating from high school in 1951, Burpee went on to earn an undergraduate degree in 1959 and a Master's degree in Public Administration in 1965. His professional military schools include: Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, National War College, and Advanced Management.

Entering the Air Force in December, 1953, Burpee received his wings and Second Lieutenant commission at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas in March, 1955. He served as an instructor pilot at Bryan AFB and Reese AFB until June, 1962. He then was selected as an exchange officer with Royal Canadian Air Force for two years. In January, 1967, he began F-4 qualification training and was assigned to Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam where from August, 1967 until September, 1968 he flew 336 F-4 combat missions.

Upon returning to the United States he was assigned to HQ, U.S. Air Force. In 1971, he served as FB-111 Aircraft Commander at Pease AFB and Commander of the 509th Bombardment Wing until April, 1975, when he was appointed Director, Training for Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, SAC HQ. In January, 1977 he became commander of the 19th Air Division, Carswell AFB. He returned to SAC HQ in June, 1979 as Inspector General and in June, 1980 became SAC Deputy Director for Operations. Then in February, 1981 he was transferred to HQ, USAF as Deputy Director Operations, then as HQ USAF Director of Operations from July to June 1982.

In August, 1983 General Burpee became Commander, Air Logistics Center, Tinker AFB, then Director of Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff, then finally as Commander, 15th Air Force where he ended his 37 years of service after his retirement in 1990. His military decorations include National Defense and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Lt. General Richard A. Burpee was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 10, 1998 for a long and illustrious career in military aviation where he played a significant role in the defense of our country.

Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee, USAF, Retired (1998)

Lawrence "Larry" Bush (2021)

Lawrence “Larry” Orie Bush was born on November 3rd, 1947 in Muskegon, Michigan. Larry graduated from Reeths-Puffer High School in 1966 and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology on a Navy ROTC scholarship. After two years of study, Larry left college and enlisted in the United States Army. He entered the Army Warrant Officer Candidate program in 1969. In August of 1970, Larry graduated from flight school near the top of his class and was appointed a Warrant Office and Army Aviator.

Larry qualified in the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, but due to his class ranking, was selected for additional training in the OH-58 “Kiowa” light observation helicopter.

Larry received orders for assignment to the Republic of Vietnam and arrived “in country” in the fall of 1970 then was transferred to Laos where he participated in Lam Son 719. Larry accumulated 1,040 combat flight hours in Vietnam and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Larry joined the Michigan Army National Guard and flew UH-1 “Huey” and OH-58 “Kiowa” scout aircraft for the next 20 years. While an Army Aviator, Larry logged 3,534 hours of accident and incident free pilot time and retired in 1993 as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 and a Master Army Aviator.

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to US Army Aviation, Lawrence O. Bush is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Gilbert A. Cargill (1989)


Gilbert A. Cargill was born in Oberlin, Ohio on June 4, 1916. He had at all times encouraged minority youth to enter aviation as a career while striving to set an example by maintaining the highest level of professionalism and safety.

He graduated from Oberlin College in 1937 with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics and soon began teaching in Cleveland. In 1941 his childhood dream of obtaining his pilot's license was finally allowed to become a reality through the government sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program. In August, 1941 Mr. Cargill obtained his long awaited pilots license and continued on to receive his commercial license with an instructor rating in October 1942. In January 1943 he moved up to military flight instructor, flying Stearman PT-17s and AT-6s. In 1967, he moved to Troy, Michigan to become a flight instructor, and in October of that year he began teaching mathematics at Aero Mechanics High School. For many years he taught ground school to students after school on his own time.

In October 1972 the FAA appointed Cargill to be the first black designated pilot examiner in Michigan. He was appointed a safety counselor in 1975 and was subsequently honored in 1981 by the Great Lakes Regional FAA for outstanding support of the Safety Counseling Program. In September 1975 he obtained his coveted ATP certificate.

He was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 1985 by the Gov. James Blanchard, serving as chairman in 1988, and was reappointed for a second term. He has also been an active member of the Negro Airmen International (NAI) for many years, including serving two years as national president.

In June 1987 Cargill and a friend, John McFarlin, made a historic flight from Detroit to London, England in a Cessna 210 in a total flight time of 25 hours.

Cargill was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his unending and tireless commitment to the advancement of aviation through education of the next generation. He died July 16, 2004 in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Gilbert A. Cargill (1989)

Col. Eugene "Gene" Carolan (2022)


Eugene “Gene” Carolan was born on March 12, 1947, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but moved to Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Detroit Henry Ford High School in 1965. In 1967, he was drafted into the United States Army. After graduation from Basic Training, Gene attended Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). Upon graduating from OCS, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Gene volunteered and completed training as an Army Helicopter Pilot. After earning his Army Aviator Wings, Gene was sent directly to Vietnam where he served as an Army Helicopter Pilot and as an Infantry Officer in combat. Serving as a Cobra Gunship Pilot, Assault Helicopter Pilot, and leader of soldiers and airmen in Vietnam, Gene was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, several Air Medals, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.

After leaving the Army, Gene attended Eastern Michigan University and earned a degree in accounting in 1972. Gene joined the Michigan Army National Guard in 1977 and served for over two decades as an Officer and Helicopter Pilot. He served as a Helicopter Platoon Leader, Air Cavalry Troop Commander, and Assault Helicopter Battalion Commander. Gene was directly responsible for the successful training and mentoring of an entire generation of Michigan Army National Guard Helicopter Pilots, many of whom subsequently deployed on tours of duty to our nation’s wars in the Middle East.

Gene retired from the Michigan Army National Guard in 1997 as a Colonel and was placed on the Retired List of the United States Army when he turned 60 years of age in 2007. In the private sector, Gene was a CPA, owning his own accounting firm, championing small businesses in the Lansing area, and serving as the President of Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan. Col. Eugene “Gene” Carolan passed away on July 22, 2021.



Walter J. Carr, Sr. (1992)


Walter J. Carr was born on January 15, 1896 in Ladd, Illinois. As an "early bird" in aviation, he had a multi-faceted career as a designer of aircraft, test pilot, instructor, and military officer, logging more than 20,000 hours of flight time.

Trained as a railroad engineer, Carr first became interested in aviation when he helped repair two planes at a county fair in 1912. He entered the Chicago Flying School, receiving federal license 442, and after graduation entered the exhibition circuit, performing at fairs and other events throughout the country.

When World War I broke out, Carr joined the aviation section of the Army Signal Corps and served as a flight instructor. After the war, he continued barnstorming began to design and build aircraft for the Paramount Aircraft Manufacturing Company of Saginaw. He also helped operate the Detroit, Saginaw, and Northern Airway. The depression put the company in receivership, but he was soon back in business, operating a skywriting service. In 1932, he designed and built the "Carr Special," a long-wing monoplane with OX-5 engine in which he won 22 races in two years. In 1937, he test piloted the "Explorer" aircraft built by Abrams Aerial Survey Company.

While serving as chief test pilot for Barkley-Grow at Detroit City Airport in the 1930s, Carr was chosen by Eddie Stinson to fly the first tri-motor to China and form the first Chinese airline. He flew the Canton to Hanoi route for a year before returning to the U.S.

Carr joined the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 1942 as a pilot and inspector, but when World War II broke out the 45 age limit was waived so he could return to uniform. When the war was over, he returned to the MAC where he remained until his retirement in 1962.

In 1967, at the age of 71, Carr took over the controls of a Lear executive jet and flew it at 535 miles per hour at an altitude of 28,000 feet.
Carr was enshrined on November 7, 1991. He was a legend in Michigan aviation and his contributions to the development of aviation were many.

Walter J. Carr Sr. (1992)

Lt. Cdr. Roger B. Chaffee, USN, Retired (1994)


Lt. Cdr. Roger B. Chaffee was born February 15, 1935, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Introduced to aviation by his father, a former barnstorming pilot, Chaffee's early interests were model airplanes and science. Graduating from high school in 1953 with his sights on an engineering career, he entered the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp (NROTC) at Illinois Institute of Technology, later transferring to Purdue University from which he received a degree in aeronautical engineering. It was here, in his last semester, he began flying.

Completing Navy flight training in 1959, he received assignment in the overhaul and repair of the A3D twin-engine jet photo reconnaissance plane and became one of the youngest pilots ever to fly in the A3D. Aerial flights taken during his flights over Florida's Cape Canaveral and Cuba were later used to map the area which became the launching center for the United States space program and to prove the existence of Russian missile bases in Cuba.

Chaffee was accepted in October, 1963, as one of the 14 people in the third group of astronauts in the United States space program. After completing training, he was selected for the first manned flight of the Apollo project in NASA's effort to progress toward the goal of landing a man on the moon by 1969. A tragic loss, he died on January 27, 1967, with two other astronauts, when the Apollo I spacecraft caught fire on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, Florida.

A Navy pilot with more than 2200 flying hours, mostly in jets, Chaffee was awarded the Navy Air Medal and NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
Chaffee was enshrined on October 22, 1994 for his contributions to the United States as a pilot, engineer, and astronaut. He is noted for his leadership and dedication to the advancement of the United States space program.

Lt. Cdr. Roger B. Chaffee, USN, Retired (1994)

Katherine L. Chamberlain (2021)

Katherine (Kay) Chamberlain was born in Claire, Michigan on May 23rd, 1923, and earned her pilot’s license on Friday, February 13th, 1970. Since that time, she became one of the most prominent woman pilots in Michigan aviation.

Kay was the first woman appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, serving as Commissioner, and was re-appointed for a second term, also serving as Chairperson twice. Kay has over 2,000 hours of flying time, most of that time spent flying to many of Michigan’s airports promoting general aviation and the development of those airports.

Kay participated in one Powder Puff Derby Race, twelve Michigan Air Races, and five Illinois Air Races. She has received three State of Michigan certificates for her contributions to aviation. Kay served as an FAA Safety Counselor and was certified in Private Single Engine Land and Sea, Commercial Single Engine Land and Sea, and Glider. Kay was a member of The Ninety-Nines, was owner of Land and Lake Aviation, was an organizer and participant of the 1979 Michigan Air Tour and served a volunteer pilot for World Medical Relief.

Kay passed away in 2009.

For her dedication and contributions to general aviation in Michigan and for pioneering women’s roles in the aviation industry, Katherine Chamberlain is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Dr. John A. Clark (2016)


Dr. John A. Clark, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1923 and grew up in Royal Oak. After graduating from Royal Oak high school in June, 1941, he attended Lawrence Institute of Technology for a short time. With the outbreak of World War II, John, like many others of his generation, enlisted in the Army Air Corps in August, 1942, and was called for active duty in February, 1943. After completing military schooling and basic and multi-engine flight training in April, 1944, he was transferred to the Las Vegas Army Air Base to train as a B-17 Bomber copilot. It was here that John met his future wife, the late Marie Mountain Clark, who was serving as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). After completing B-17 training, John and his crew picked up a new B-17G in Nebraska, and made their way across the Atlantic to join the 100th Bomb Group, Eighth Air Force, known at the Bloody 100th due to their heavy combat losses, at Thorpe Abbots, East Anglia, England. Between October, 1944, and March, 1945, John completed 32 combat missions over Europe. He kept meticulous notes and records of all briefings, as well as a diary of his combat missions, all of which were incorporated into a book in 2001 titled An Eighth Air Force Combat Diary . He concluded his wartime service rated as a First Pilot, with over 600 hours in the B-17G, 300 of them in combat.

Following separation from the U.S. Army Air Force in July, 1945, he married his late wife Marie, and enrolled in the University Of Michigan s College of Engineering. John continued to fly during his undergraduate years, serving as a pilot on a variety of aircraft with the 107th Bomb Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard. He was also employed as a Research Associate by the U of M Aeronautical Research Center at Willow Run Airport, conducting studies on Ramjet engines for aircraft and missile applications. He graduated in 1948 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, left the Michigan Air National Guard, and began work as a Research Engineer with United Aircraft Corporation in East Hartford, CT, where he worked to solve cooling problems with Ramjet engines. While there, he developed a proposal for the measurement of the static temperature of high-velocity gas flows in aircraft gas turbine exhausts, which he pursued as his Master s thesis topic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). John received both his Master s and his Doctorate (Sc.D)

degrees from MIT in Mechanical Engineering by 1952 and joined the faculty as an assistant professor. In 1957, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, and was soon promoted to Chairman, Department of Mechanical Engineering. In his time spent at MIT, U of M, and throughout his later career, John worked on a wide variety of initiatives, including the establishment of a flight research program with the U.S. Air Force, research involving the
propulsion systems of the Saturn Rocket, and research on heat transfer, thermal dynamics, and solar energy. Dr. Clark s broad national and international career in research and consulting also included serving as a member of President-elect Ronald Reagan s transition team for energy. Highly regarded in this field, Dr. Clark has authored over sixty technical papers and book contributions and has received numerous awards and honors from both the
scientific and academic communities.

Because of his great contributions to aviation through both his service to his country as a pilot in World War II and in the advancement of aerospace science and technology through his research, John A. Clark embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dr. John A. Clark (2016)

Danny J. Clisham (2015)

Danny Clisham announced at his first air show entirely by chance in October 1965, . Danny was in Elkins, WV as a ferry pilot for Bill Barber in an air show produced by Johnny Skyrocket Morgan. The show hired a local TV color man as its announcer who was quickly over matched for the job. Danny climbed on to the hay wagon to offer help, but instead, the TV anchor handed the microphone over to Danny and raced away. On that day, a legend was born.
Danny immediately raised the game of the air show industry by viewing himself as an entertainer first and a pilot second. He decided that a suit and a boutonniere were appropriate so air show announcers were viewed more as Masters of Ceremonies. Years later, Danny would begin wearing his signature white suit.

In fifty years of air show announcing, Danny has seen just about every dynamic and static act in the industry and watched as air shows have increased in terms of entertainment value, skill and professionalism. He has seen show producers, skywriters, wingwalkers, pilots, ground acts, designers and builders all leave their mark on the air show industry. Danny has also watched the crowds at air shows grow exponentially as forward thinking show directors added sponsorships, corporate chalets and events within the event to attract more attendees, loyal attendees who come back to the shows year after year. The crowd makes all the difference, according to Danny. The spontaneous applause of a crowd held in rapt attention to an act is the most exciting and energizing thing that can happen at an air show. 
Air show announcing is one aspect of Danny s love for all things aviation. He spent his adult career as a professional airline pilot and retired from American Airlines with more than 30,000 hours of flight time. In fact, he holds a Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) speed record for a commercial route " a record that has not been broken for 30 years.

Danny, still an active pilot, owns three general aviation aircraft. He has also worked as an aviation consultant on movies and for television shows.

Induction into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame is the latest in a lengthy list of honors that includes: Induction into the ICAS Foundation s Air Show Hall of Fame; the ICAS Sword of Excellence; the Clifford W. Henderson Achievement Award; Honorary Membership in The Canadian Forces Jet Demonstration Team; The Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award; General Aviation News & Flyer Readers Choice Award; and the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship.

Danny J. Clisham (2015)

Vice Adm. Thomas F. Connolly, USN, Retired (1999)


Vice Admiral Thomas F. Connolly was born in October, 1909 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A 1933 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, he retired from the Navy in 1971 after 38 years of distinguished service.

As Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare) in the midst of congressional hearings concerning naval procurement of the F-111B fighter-bomber, he courageously upheld the tenants of naval aviation in the face of extreme opposition to urge its rejection. In its place, the mainstay carrier fighter of the past 25 years, the F-14 Tomcat was developed and named for Admiral Connolly.

After earning a Masters of Aeronautical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he became a test pilot and co-authored a university-level text book on airplane aerodynamics. He established the Navy's elite Top Gun test pilot training center, commanded two carriers, was Commander Naval Air Pacific, and the first flag officer assigned for Navy Space requirements and programs.

He was instrumental in developing the modern aircraft carrier program, the first operational navigational satellite system, the Navy's Pacific missile range, Sidewinder missile, and a naval ordinance requirements system.
Admiral Connolly's awards and honors include three Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals earned during World War II, two Legions of Merit awards, the Award for Achievement of the National Aviation Club, the Kitty Hawk Memorial Award, and, in 1998, he was inducted into the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in Pensacola, Florida. In addition, competing as a member of the American team in the 1932 Olympics, he won a bronze medal in gymnastics for rope climbing.

Admiral Connolly, who died in Holland, Michigan in 1996 at the age of 86, was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on September 25, 1999 for his outstanding contributions to naval aviation and space programs.

Vice Adm. Thomas F. Connolly, USN, Retired (1999)

Mary Rawlinson Creason (1995)


Mary Rawlinson Creason was born on November 20, 1924, in Greenwood, Delaware. Mary began flying prior to her 1944 graduation from Western Michigan College, and during her long aviation career she played a major role in aviation safety and education programs for the state of Michigan.  

After Mary's initial solo in 1943, she went on to earn private, commercial, and airline transport pilot licenses. Rated on both single-engine land and sea and multi-engine land airplanes, she began teaching in 1964 and by 1995 had accumulated over 10,500 flight hours, 5,500 of which as a flight instructor. She has held positions as an air taxi pilot, flight and ground instructor, airport manager, fixed base owner and operator, airplane salesperson, aviation writer and publisher, and has volunteered as an FAA Accident Prevention Counselor. She continues to teach, write, and promote aviation education and safety. Early on in her career, Mary faced the hardships of discrimination against women pilots, an experience she attributes to her drive to excel in her aviation skills.

Mary began working for the state of Michigan's Bureau of Aeronautics in 1977 as Editor of Michigan Aviation, while also serving as an air transport pilot, coordinator of safety, and development of educational programs. Later she became Administrator of the Safety and Services Division and then Assistant Deputy Director. After her retirement in 1989, Mary was appointed by Governor Blanchard to the Aeronautics Commission and served as its Chairman in 1991.

Accepting a presidential appointment, Mary served as a member of the Womens/Citizens Advisory Committee on Aviation to the FAA from 1969 to 1974. She participated in many national and state air races, placing in the top ten four times in national races, and top five four times in the Michigan SMALL Race. She has received many awards, trophies, and citations during her long and illustrious career.

A catalyst for the promotion and advancement of aviation, aviation safety, and aviation education, the effect of Mary's involvement has spread through the thousands of students and associates with whom she has been in contact.

Mary Rawlinson Creason was enshrined on October 14, 1995, for her dedication to Michigan aviation for over 50 years.

Mary Rawlinson Creason (1995)

1st Lt. James L. DeVoss, USAF, Retired (2017)


First Lieutenant James L. DeVoss attended elementary, high school, and junior college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in Zoology and Chemistry. After joining the United States Air Force in 1967, he trained as an F-105 Thunderchief (THUD) pilot and was eventually deployed to fly combat missions over Vietnam and Northern Laos.

On June 16, 1969, DeVoss took off as flight lead on what he described as a "typical mission" , his 71st since arriving in Southeast Asia. DeVoss and his flight were to bomb roads and vehicles used as part of the "Ho Chi Minh Trail", the main supply route of the North Vietnamese Army. After dropping his bombs at their second target, DeVoss rolled in behind his wingman to cover him on his run. While there was heavy anti-aircraft fire in the area, DeVoss didn't recall feeling any strike his aircraft. "I didn't see or hear anything," said DeVoss. " I was on the radio telling the guys to rejoin so we could hit the post-strike tanker to get some gas and go home when, all of a sudden, the nose of the plane started to weave around real funny-like. I thought 'This can't be happening to me!', but it was..."

DeVoss fought to stay in the air but found his controls unresponsive. Suspecting a hit to the aircraft s hydraulic system, he increased his speed to stabilize and began to run through the checklist for ejecting. After jettisoning his wing tanks to reduce weight, the aircraft nosed over unexpectedly and began rapidly gaining speed. As the pilots in DeVoss' flight screamed "Get out! Get out!" over the radio, he surveyed his situation and found he had well exceeded safe ejection speed. With no alternative, he was forced to "punch out" at over 700 miles per hour. As he left the aircraft, the shock of the high-speed wind broke his left arm and both of his legs. Badly injured, thinking his left arm had actually been torn off, he maintained consciousness and continued to follow the ejection sequence as he'd been trained. While his parachute deployed successfully, he found he was unable to control his descent and was impaled by bamboo shoots when he hit the ground. Despite this, he was still able to administer basic first aid and deploy his emergency beacon and radio. He contacted his flight, who began to coordinate search and rescue efforts while flying cover over his position.

When a pilot goes down in combat, their rescue is considered "all hands" meaning every available resource is diverted to the effort. One of the rescue units responding to DeVoss' emergency was trained in the use of film equipment, and the entire mission was recorded. The Air Force determined Lt. DeVoss' survival was due largely to his precise adherence to correct emergency procedures, and the film of his rescue was used in an Air Force rescue training film titled Faces of Rescue, which is still in use today.

For the past 45 years, DeVoss has shown the film and lectured for countless groups and organizations free of charge, emphasizing the depth of training of each U.S. Air Force Pilot, and his own personal patriotic dedication to our country and our military forces. Lt. DeVoss was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal with oak leaf clusters, Air Force Presidential Citation, the National Defense Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. Unable to continue to fly due to his injuries, DeVoss was employed by the Amway Corporation from 1972 through 2015, and was responsible for the creation and initial management of nine American-owned, locally operated Middle and Eastern Europe affiliates of the company.

For his selfless dedication and sacrifice, James DeVoss embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

1st Lt. James L. DeVoss, USAF, Retired (2017)

Beaumont "Pard" Diver (2011)


Beaumont "Pard" Diver was born in Deerfield, Michigan in 1912 and began his career in aviation when he started working at Meyers Aircraft Co. in Tecumseh in 1940. While there, he helped design and build the Meyers OTW, 145 and 200. He also signed the airworthiness certificates for all three aircraft and made them official airplanes.

Diver made the creation and restoration of many one-of-a-kind projects possible. If parts were not available, he would fabricate them. He excelled in aircraft aluminum and was known for his ability to make just about any part necessary to keep the plane flying.

Diver worked at Meyers Aircraft Co. for more than 50 years, and in 1990 was honored by Michigan Aviation Magazine. The magazine acknowledged the five decades of expertise Diver devoted to the design and construction of the exclusive handmade Meyers single-engine biplanes and thousands of experimental aircraft parts.

On August 11, 1990, Diver passed away while working on an airplane he helped build and patent. He was the last of the original FAA licensed Meyers repairmen. After his passing, the Al Meyers Airport in Tecumseh was officially renamed the Meyers-Diver's Airport. Diver often said he was thankful for living in the time of history that he did. The advances in his lifetime amazed him as he went from flowing behind two mules before the advent of electricity, to his own ride on the Concorde jet, breaking the sound barrier.

Diver is warmly and fondly remembered not only in Southeast Michigan, but around the world wherever there are aviators who had the privilege of working with him. He had an interest in people and learned everything important about those he worked with. His love for his family, friends and country shined through unmistakably. His trademark red baseball cap became the accepted garb for Meyers Aircraft Owners Association members, who known how reliable and safe their airplanes are, thanks to Diver's careful and painstaking efforts.

Beaumont "Pard" Diver was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011.

Beaumont "Pard" Diver (2011)

Urban Leonard "Ben" Drew (1995)


Urban Leonard Ben Drew was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 21, 1924. He entered the U.S. Army Air Force in October, 1942 and graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant and received his pilot's wings in 1943. Lt. Drew arrived in England aboard the Queen Elizabeth in May of 1944 and was assigned to the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, based at Bottisham, Chambridgeshire. During his tour with the "Yellow Jackets," Drew completed 75 missions, the last of which on November 1, 1944. He rose to the command of "A" flight of the 375th Squadron and rotated to the U.S. in December of 1944.

Among his victories, most notable were the two Messerschmitt ME-262 jet aircraft shot down on October 7, 1944. This made Ben Drew the first allied airman to destroy two German jets in aerial combat. On September 18, 1944 Drew helped destroy, with the aid of two wingmen, the largest aircraft then in existence, a Luftwaffe Blohm & Voss BV-268 six-engine flying boat at Lake Schaal in Northern Germany.

After completion of his European tour, Drew served with the 413th Fighter Squadron, 414th Fighter Group, flying P-47N-5s from Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands. After the war, Drew helped reconstitute the Michigan Air National Guard, serving with the 127th Fighter Group. He completed his military service as a Major with the following record: Six Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed, one damaged (air), one destroyed (ground). His decorations include the Air Force Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 14 Air Medals.

In 1983, at a Pentagon ceremony, Mr. Vernon Orr, then Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, presented Major Drew the Air Force Cross 39 years after he downed two ME-262 jet fighters.
After 1953, Mr. Drew was heavily involved in commercial aviation. He was a principle with several air cargo and charter operations. He brokered aircraft internationally and provided the C-47 aircraft and flight crews for the filing of the movie "A Bridge Too Far."

Urban "Ben" Drew was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on September 25, 1999 for his long and dedicated aviation career as a pilot in war and in peace. He passed away April 3, 2013.

Urban Leonard “Ben” Drew (1995)

Ivan H. Driggs (1996)


Ivan H. Driggs was born April 8, 1894 in Lansing, Michigan. He graduated from high school in 1912 and attended Michigan Agriculture College. Taking a job as a draftsmen at the Burgess Company, Marble Head, Mass. In 1914, he began an aviation career that spanned more than forty years until his death in 1955. 

Throughout the years of 1915 and 1916 he designed, built and flew an airplane, the first of many that would follow. In 1917 he went to McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, where he designed improvements to the Nelson gun synchronizer. Following World War I, he supervised the mechanical design of the RB-1-the first airplane with practical retractable landing gear, wing flaps, enclosed cockpit, streamlined fuselage and full cantilever wings- at the Dayton-Wright Co.

In 1923, he helped start Consolidated Aircraft Co. in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Returning to Dayton in 1924, he continued to design and build aircraft including the Dart I. in 1927, he started Driggs Aircraft Company in Lansing, Michigan where he built the Dart II and over twenty Skylark aircraft.
In 1933, Ivan joined Don Luscombe to start the Luscombe Aircraft Corp. in Kansas City. Here he designed the Luscombe Phantom, the first production light plane with an all metal frame and monocoque fuselage. In 1936 he joined the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore, Maryland as head of Research and Development.

When J.S. McDonnell started McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in 1939, Ivan became its Vice President and Chief Engineer. When World War II began in 1941, Ivan joined the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics becoming Director of the Research Division and then Chief Scientist of the naval Air Development Center overseeing the Electronic, Armament, Aircraft Instrument, Photographic, Guided Weapon and Medical Development laboratories.
He was appointed a Fellow in the Royal Aeronautical Society and Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Ivan H. Driggs was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his outstanding contributions to aviation from its earliest days of fabric covered, piston engine powered aircraft to the era of jet powered aircraft.

Ivan  H. Driggs (1996)

Lt. Col. Howard R. Ebersole, USAF, Retired (1997)


Lt. Col. Howard R. Ebersole was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1922. After high school graduation in 1938, he served two years as a radio operator on Ford Motor Co.'s ships before enlisting in the Army Signal Corp.  In 1942, Ebersole was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and attended flight training. He became a qualified B-24 pilot in 1944. He was then assigned to the 392nd Bomb Group, 8th AF, and flew 16 combat missions over Europe.

In December 1945, Ebersole transferred to the Reserve Forces and enrolled in the University of Michigan's College of Engineering. He received a BSEE in January, 1951 and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He was assigned to Luke AFB in Arizona as a captain and commanded the F-51, F-80 and F-84 academic training section. Ebersole was sent to Korea in 1952, and flew 100 combat missions (30 in the F-51 and 70 in the F-80), during one of which he shot down a MiG-15.

At Selfridge AFB in Michigan between 1956 and 1957 he earned an MSEE degree from the University of Michigan in addition to his pilot and instructor pilot duties. At Holloman AFB in New Mexico, he was a test pilot and project officer for the F-101B operational qualification. In addition, he was the F-102/GAR-11 (first nuclear warhead air-to-air missile) Category II test director. In 1966, he directed the Missiles and Munitions Branch, HQ, Tactical Air Command in developing the operational and technical specifications for today's "smart bombs" and improved air-to-air missiles.

Ebersole retired from active duty in 1969 and became an associate professor in the Aerospace and Engineering Department at Mississippi State University and deputy director/test pilot in the Raspert Flight Research Laboratory. In 1976-1977, Ebersole joined the Rockwell International as senior project engineer for the B-1 crew escape systems tests at El Segundo, California and Holloman AFB high-speed track.
Ebersole had more than 11,500 flying hours and 2,760 glider flights. His military decorations include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, five Air Medals and Korean Chungmoo with a Gold Star.

Ebersole was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 18, 1997 for his long and illustrious aviation career in military and civil endeavors.


Lt. Col. Howard R. Ebersole, USAF, Retired (1997)

James L. Edwards (2003)


James L. "Jim" Edwards was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 7, 1940. After graduating from Detroit Pershing High School, he joined the Air Force. Airman Edwards applied and was accepted into the Air Force Academy, however, because he chose marriage, he attended Officer Candidate School (OCS). 

Edwards received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and completed Air Force Pilot training. He flew the F-100 and the F-101 Voodoo. During his off-duty time at various assignments, Edwards participated in university courses and earned a Bachelor of Science degree.
Due to the racist actions of some in the Air Force, Edwards felt that resigning his commission in 1964 was in the best interests of him and his family. He moved back to Detroit shortly thereafter.

That same year, he completed all of his civilian pilot ratings, including commercial instructor and multi-engine. Edwards applied to United Airlines and passed the qualifying test with flying colors. The airline was ready to hire him until they realized he was African American, at which point they suggested he get some heavy multi-engine flying time.

In 1965-1966, United hired 120 pilots with no flying experience, allowing them one year to get their certification. Edwards applied, but was turned down. In 1967, the U.S. Justice Department met with the Tuskegee Airmen, who encouraged Edwards to join in a class action lawsuit against United.

While waiting for the wheels of justice to turn, Edwards founded AERO
Services Inc., a freight transport company and flight school. He also served as plant manager for Chrysler Corp. at its Warren and Centerline facilities.

The lawsuit settled in 1976. The judge decreed that Edwards' ratings and flight experience would qualify him for United's next new pilot class. This decree also opened all jobs at United Airlines for minorities and women. To overcome another last-minute barrier, he earned an engineer's rating in only two days.

In 1976, Edwards became a founding member of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, now the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. He flew the 727, 757, 767, DC-10 and the 747-100, 200, and 400 for United Airlines. He retired from United in March, 2000. Edwards was elected President of the Detroit Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen in 2003, and enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 11 of the same year. He passed away December 7, 2010.

James L. Edwards (2003)

Col. Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, AFRC (2001)


Col. Marvin "Sonny" Eliot was born December 5, 1920 and raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended Central High School and Wayne State University, where the broadcasting career for which he is best known. 

Equally impressive is his aviation career, which began at Wayne County Airport. He soloed in a piper cub and received his license in 1940. The next year he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and trained in many military planes including the C-47 and C-39.

After training, during which he saw duty at bases in Texas, Arizona and Kansas, Eliot was shipped to England and was assigned to the 392nd Heavy Bomb Group, flying B-24s in the Eighth Air Force based in Norwich. He was shot down over Gotha, Germany by FW190s on his 16th mission, was captured and spent 16 months as a POW in Stalag-Luft 1 in Barth, Germany. The Gotha mission made him a battle-hardened veteran of the grimmest days of the air war. The 392nd committed 36 air crews to this mission and lost 73 planes, the third heaviest losses of the war. It earned the group the Presidential Unit Citation for one of the most vital air strikes of the aerial war.

His other honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart.

After World War II duty he was still devoted to flying, amassing over 7,500 hours of flight time. While at Channel 4 TV and WWJ Radio in Detroit, Eliot won many news media awards for promotion and public awareness of aviation. He has flown extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico in his own aircraft(C-120) and has been an FAA prevention counselor for many years. He holds the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was named Air Force liaison officer for the 1st Congressional District.
Home from the war in 1945, he returned to Detroit and spent the next 57 years on the city's airwaves with WWJ and the TV channels 4 and 2, where Eliot earned his greatest fame as a weatherman.

His witty weather reports have been named the nation's best by the National Association of TV Program Executives (NATPE).

Marvin "Sonny" Eliot was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001. He passed away November 16, 2012 at the age of 91.

Col. Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, AFRC (2001)

Robert E. Ellis (2013)


Robert E. Ellis was born on January 15, 1944 in Cabool, Missouri. After graduating from high school in Mountain Grove in 1962, he attended Missouri University and left to pursue a career in the automobile industry. Upon graduating from Bailey Technical Institute in St. Louis, he purchased a Phillips 66 service station that he ran until he made a bid to purchase a Ford Motor Co. dealership in 1967. The dealership bid was rejected and Ellis moved his family to Kalamazoo where he worked for his brother as an apprentice aviation mechanic at Kal-Aero Inc., a fixed-base aircraft maintenance facility at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. In 1976, Ellis attended Kings Aviation Technology School in Knoxville, Tennessee where he successfully fulfilled the requirements to receive an FAA Airframe and Powerplant License.

After eight years of working at Kal-Aero Inc., the last five of which he managed the aircraft engine overhaul division, he moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he served as the chief of corporate aircraft maintenance for Brock & Blevins Inc., a corporation engaged in building atomic power plants.

In 1977, Ellis accepted the first employee position of general manager for the newly established Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, now known as the Air Zoo. His title was later changed to executive director until 2010, when he was named president and CEO.

Ellis' early responsibilities included the development and running of the newly established aviation museum, as well as the maintenance and restoration of World War II aircraft, which participated in air shows across the country. Six of these aircraft received Grand Champion Awards at the EAA's annual air shows in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Ellis was also responsible for the development of staff to introduce educational and Scout programs for children of all ages.

In 1985, Ellis championed the first expansion of the museum as newly-acquired aircraft could no longer be exhibited indoors. The expansion tripled its size of the museum to 45,000 square feet and included a larger exhibit hall, a video theater, a new museum store, and a larger library. In 1992, at Ellis' request, the board approved the introduction of a simulator where guest could experience flights in a Corsair. As a result, attendance doubled.

In 2000, he came up with an innovative and engaging concept for the Air Zoo to reach a broader audience by designing a new 120,000-square-foot aviation attraction. The new attraction featured a more interactive and entertaining approach to paying tribute to America's aviation pioneers. It featured the Midwest's first 4-D theater, the Montgolfier Balloon Race, amusement park-style rides and even more aircraft for guests of all ages to enjoy.

In 2011, the Air Zoo expanded yet again, thanks to Ellis' continued quest to provide the best possible experience possible to every guest. A 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall was added to the main building to make room for new and current exhibits, aircraft, and space artifacts. This new East Wing gallery houses the Space: Dare to Dream exhibit, along with an exhibit about women in aviation and space. It also features a gallery for WWII aircraft, a climate-controlled archive and a library.

Under Ellis' vision and leadership, the museum's creative presentation of the history of flight, its educational programs and its unique interactive attractions for families distinguish the Air Zoo from all other aviation museums. The Air Zoo is the first and only aviation museum of its kind.

Ellis has served as a board member for the Michigan State Bureau of Aeronautics Education Coalition, the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, and the board chair for the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also served as an advisory board member for the Virginia Aviation Museum and a master of ceremonies for the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce. Ellis has been featured as a speaker at numerous conferences, including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Mutual Concerns Seminar.

Robert E. Ellis (2013)

John M. Ellis III (1996)


John M. Ellis III was born in Springfield, Missouri on December 24, 1940. John's aviation career started when he had a flight in a J-3 Cub piloted by his father when he was six years old. Since then, John has amassed more than 9,000 accident-free hours as a pilot. John graduated from the University of Missouri in 1962, the same year he received his private pilot's license.

John entered the U.S. Navy and received his wings in 1963 at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas. During his naval career he flew seven different types of naval aircraft including three supersonic types.

John moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan in late 1967 and opened a fix-base operation known as Kal-Aero Inc. and continues to serve as president and General Manager. 

Starting Kal-Aero with four full-time and three part-time employees, over the years Kal-Aero has grown into one of the largest aviation maintenance and repair facilities of corporate aircraft in the United States currently employing over 320 people. The facility is located in Battle Creek, Michigan.
His Michigan aviation interests and affiliations include the Michigan Aviation Trade Association, The Michigan Association of Aviation businesses, an officer and Director of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) War Birds, a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Vice Chairman and Safety Officer of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), and President of the High on America Air Show Board.

John has flown more than 100 different aircraft types and holds an FAA certificate for low level aerobatics and performs in various air shows in World War II era aircraft.

John Ellis, pilot, businessman and aviation promoter was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his many contributions to his country and to the State of Michigan with over 30 years of working unselfishly developing a major Michigan Aviation Business.

John M. Ellis III (1996)

Cdr. Michael R. Erard, USN, Retired (1991)


Cdr. Michael R. Erard was born on October 5, 1908 near Argyle, Michigan. He was a member of four military air forces, logging more than 14,000 accident-free hours of flight time in 53 years. 

Erard was only 16 years old when he saw a squadron of P-1s fly over his parents' farm, deciding then that flying was going to be his life. He obtained his pilot's license in 1926 and operated his own flying school until 1929 when the Depression forced him to close it. He joined the Michigan Air National Guard the next year as a private and was soon a pilot and a second lieutenant. He resigned in 1933 when he received his letter of acceptance into the French Air Force. Erard was the only American who served actively as a military pilot in the French Air Force since WW I.

He returned to the U.S. in December 1937, and then joined Lockheed Aircraft Corporation on the production flight test staff. In 1940 he was accepted into the U.S. Air Force as a flight instructor. In January 1943, Erard transferred to the U.S. Naval Air Force to take charge of the entire Free French Navy Primary Pilot Training Program. He remained in the U.S. Navy until his retirement in June, 1963.

Erard was decorated with the Aeronautical Medal by the French government in 1983 and was inducted into the Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1986. He was also selected as "Airman of the Year" by the Yankee Air Force in 1986.

Erard was enshrined on October 26, 1991 for his dedication to flying and the advancement of aviation. His love of aviation and dedicated military service serve as an example and inspiration to all. He passed away January 19, 2002.

Cdr. Michael R. Erard, USN, Retired (1991)

Brig. Gen. Floyd E. Evans, USAF, Retired (1998)


Brig. Gen. Floyd E. Evans was born on November 24, 1893 in Hinkley, Illinois. His military career began as a corps cadet at the University of Illinois in July 1917. He completed flying school at Dayton, Ohio, received his pilot's wings and was commissioned a first lieutenant in November 1917. From March 1918 to March 1919 he served with the American Expeditionary Forces 88th Observation Squadron in France. He was discharged August 14, 1919 from the U.S. Army with the rank of Captain. 

In December 1919 he was appointed a Major in the Officer Reserve Corps and served until May 1926 when he joined the 107th Observation Squadron, Michigan National Guard. In June 1931 he was appointed as the Division Aviation Officer, 32nd Infantry Division, Michigan National Guard. In October of 1940 he re-entered active Federal duty for World War II, serving as a military observer in the Allied Forces Campaigns in West Africa. He separated from Federal Service in January 1946.

Joining the staff of Headquarters Detachment, Michigan National Guard in March, 1947 as a Lieutenant Colonel he served as the senior air officer until his retirement as a Colonel on January 27, 1954. At that time he had complied over 34 years of service to state and country. He was promoted to Brigadier General (Retired) on December 1, 1960.

For his military service, Brig. Gen. Evans was awarded the U.S. Commendation Medal with Palm; World War I Liberty Medal with five stars; the Purple Heart Medal; the French Croix deQuirre; the American Defense Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

In June 1930, Governor Green appointed him to the Michigan State Board of Aeronautics and six months later appointed him Director-a position he held for 14 years. In additional to the enforcement of air regulations, Evans initiated many of today's Michigan Aeronautics Commission programs. He advanced aerial tourism by promoting air tours and initiating the nation's first Sunday morning "Dawn Patrol."

Brig. Gen. Floyd E. Evans was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 10, 1998 for his long and exemplary military aviation career and his dedicated service to Michigan.


Brig. Gen. Floyd E. Evans, USAF, Retired (1998)

Captain Ralph H. Fletcher, USN, Retired (2021)

Born in 1911, Ralph Fletcher grew up in Portage, MI, and attended Western State Teachers College (now Western Michigan University) in Kalamazoo.

Eventually graduating in 1932 from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with a BS degree in electrical engineering, Fletcher joined the United States Navy in 1937, earned his wings in December of 1938, and served as a carrier pilot assigned to patrol the Pacific Ocean aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga from 1938-39.

Reassigned to Scouting Squadron 72 flying from the U.S.S. Wasp, he participated in Atlantic operations until January 1942. At the onset of WWII, then-Lieutenant Fletcher was reassigned to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Miami, FL as a fighter and dive-bomber instructor, and later served as the Commanding Officer of the Air Station’s Night Flying Division. Deployed to the Pacific in 1944 as the Aviation Officer for Amphibious Group 12 (and later the 5th Amphibious Force), Fletcher saw combat throughout the Central and Western Pacific and over Japan. Retiring from active duty in 1946, he served in the Naval Reserves until 1951, and retired at the rank of Captain.

As a civilian, Ralph Fletcher briefly served as Senior Test Engineer for the Sikorsky Division of the United Aircraft Corporation and was then employed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the Federal Aviation Administration), Washington, DC, in multiple capacities from 1946 to 1972, where he eventually retired as Chief, Designation & Documentation of the Airspace Utilization Division, Air Traffic Service.

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to aviation, Captain Ralph H. Fletcher is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Mario "Milo" Fontana (1988)


Mario "Milo" 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.

Mario "Milo" Fontana  (1988)

Col. Walter B. Forbes, USAF, Retired (2009)


Col. Walter B. Forbes served as a USAF pilot in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He was assigned to the 48th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force, Europe during World War II. 

Born in Niles, Michigan, Forbes' passion for aviation began when he was just five years old and his grandparents lived next to the community's grass airstrip. One day, Henry Ford's Tri-Motor landed on that airstrip. After taking a ride on the airplane with his aunt, Forbes was hooked on planes.

By the time he was 20, he flown his P-47, the Gal From Kalamazoo, on 72 combat missions over Europe and including a mission over Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 in support of the D-Day Invasion. He also destroyed one confirmed German ME-109 and provided air support for General Patton's march into Paris and Belgium. After World War II, Forbes also ended up flying a Republic F-84, North American F-86 and the North American F-100 Super Sabre.

During the Korean War, he flew 2,600 Transpac hours over the Pacific, Asia and the Middle East. He was assigned as commanding officer to the F-100 Training Wing, Nellis Air Force Base where he taught pilots how to fly the F-100s. Forbes flew 67 missions during Vietnam-mostly at night-interdicting transportation. He also served on Air Staff at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Forbes retired as a colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with cluster, Air Medal with 16 clusters, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star. He logged more than 5,100 hours of flight time in military jets including single-engine props, twin-engine props, four-engine props and single-engine jets. He also logged more than 900 hours in civilian aircraft.

Forbes lived in Kalamazoo with his wife and was an active volunteer at the Air Zoo. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 18, 2009, and passed away February 3, 2018.



Col. Walter B. Forbes, USAF, Retired  (2009)

Edsel B. Ford (2003)


Edsel Bryant Ford, the only child of Henry Ford and Clara Bryant, was born in Detroit, Michigan in November, 1893. 

As Edsel Ford matured and assumed responsibility in the Ford Motor Co., he and his father watched the development of aviation with interest. In 1921, Edsel Ford subscribed to and became a director of the Detroit Aviation Society, and in 1922 became an officer and director of the Aircraft Development Co. which was formed to build the first all-metal dirigible.

The following year he donated $10,000 to guarantee the prize money for the Pulitzer Trophy Air Race held at Selfridge Field in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. He was elected to the finance committee of the National Aeronautic Association in 1923 and became active in its fund solicitation drive.

By this time the Fords had become aware of William Stout and his efforts to build the first all-metal commercial airplane in the United States, and thus Edsel Ford became a stockholder in the Stout Metal Airplane Co. When the Fords purchased the company in 1925, Henry Ford commented: "This interest in aviation is largely Edsel's idea and he deserves the credit. Airplanes belong to another generation."

Edsel Ford was very active in the promotion of the National Air Tours (1925-1931) that demonstrated to the public the safety and reliability of commercial aviation and the need for modern airfields across the United States.

Edsel Ford was the primary sponsor of Richard Byrd's Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. Ford contributed generously himself and solicited donations from other prominent businessmen. Byrd wrote Edsel Ford regarding these expeditions: "The whole thing would have been impossible without your backing and encouragement. I owe a great deal to a great many people, but I owe more to you than all the rest put together."

With the advent of World War II and the failing health of his father, Edsel Ford was active in the operations of the Ford war production machine epitomized by the vast Willow Run bomber plant, where, as forecasted but widely ridiculed, these mammoth planes were produced at the rate of one an hour.

Edsel Ford passed away in 1943 at the age of 49. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 11, 2003.

Edsel B. Ford (2003)

Henry Ford (1990)


Henry Ford was born in Springwells Township, Wayne County, Michigan on July 30, 1863. Though his life's work began with the mass production of automobiles, he was also a pioneer in the field of aviation. 

Ford's interest in aviation began in 1909 when he helped his son build a monoplane. Though it flew briefly, it was destroyed in a crash and Ford's interest in aviation waned. However, during the war Ford mass produced "Liberty" aircraft engines, then, in 1923, he invested in the Stout Metal Airplane Company. The Stout all-metal "Air-Transport" was perfected, and, pleased with the design, Ford purchased several and used them to establish the world's first regularly-scheduled airline devoted to the business needs of a single company. Called the Ford Air Transportation Service, it carried Ford auto parts and company mail between Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo.

Also, to promote confidence in aviation, Ford sponsored an annual Ford Reliability Tour that involved non-military aircraft flying a scheduled route with stops at numerous cities.

In 1925 Ford acquired the Stout Metal Airplane Company and made it an operating division. With the introduction of the Ford Tri-Motor in 1926, and Ford Airplane Manufacturing Division became the world's largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft. He built the Ford Airport at Dearborn in 1926. It was the world's first truly complete and modern airport. In addition, Ford developed a midget "Flivver" airplane that promised to bring the personal aircraft within the means of the average person.

Though the Depression temporarily forced Ford to discontinue his aviation activities, during WWII, the Ford Motor Company mass-produced Pratt and Whitney "Double Wasp" aircraft engines and Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bombers.

Ford was enshrined on September 15, 1990 for his dominant role in the advancements of the aircraft industry in Michigan.

Henry Ford (1990)

Capt. Robert F. Freitag, USN, Retired (1992)


Capt. Robert F. Freitag was born in Jackson, Michigan on January 20, 1920. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1941 with a degree in aeronautical engineering, Freitag went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate work in aeronautical engineering in 1941-42. He was also commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1941. 

Freitag has been involved in the guided missile and rocket field since 1945, with assignments that included aerodynamic development of Navy guided missiles, establishment of supersonic wind tunnels, and guided missile intelligence assignments.

In 1951, he received a special commendation from the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet for planning and operations associated with the first Navy guided missiles employed during the Korean War. From 1953 until 1955, Freitag was assigned to the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics where he was in charge of the REGULUS missile program. In 1955, he became Project Officer in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations on the Jupiter and Polaris intermediate range ballistic missiles and the Vanguard earth satellite. That assignment was followed by a tour of duty as range planning officer, leading up to his appointment as Special Assignment to the Commander, Pacific Missile Range.

In 1959, Freitag became the director of space and astronautics systems development, supporting research, operational planning, and program management at the Bureau of Naval Weapons. From 1963 to 1986 he worked for NASA negotiating international agreements for space programs, and has also worked on Mercury, Gemini, Apollo-Soyuz and Spacelab programs. He passed away on April 21, 1998. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on November 7, 1992 for his efforts in the advancement of aviation through his work with both the Navy and NASA on missile technology.


Capt. Robert F. Freitag, USN, Retired (1992)

Robert A. Fuhrman (1991)


Robert A. Fuhrman was born on February 23, 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. During his long career with the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, he rose to positions of trust and responsibility achieved by very few in the aerospace field.  

He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1945 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and earned a master's degree from the University of Maryland in 1952. Fuhrman joined Lockheed in 1958 as technical staff head of Polaris systems development and advanced to chief engineer of the Missile Systems Division in 1964 and to vice president and assistant manager of the Missile Systems Division in 1966. He became president of the Lockheed-Georgia Company, builders of the C-5A, in 1970. In 1971, he was selected as president of Lockheed-California Company, home of the famous Skunk Works and builders of the L-1011 and the Navy P-3A Orion. Two years later he became executive vice president at LMSC.

In 1988 Fuhrman became vice chairman of the board and chief operating officer for the entire Lockheed Corporation. He became a senior advisor to Lockheed and also served as the chairman of the boards of directors of two wholly owned subsidiaries of Lockheed: Lockheed Canada Inc. and Lockheed Space Operations Company.

In addition to his work at Lockheed, he had also served on many government boards and panels, including the President's national Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee and the Defense Science Board. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a senior member of the American Astronautical Society. In 1987 he was elected an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Fuhrman was enshrined on October 26, 1991 for his lifelong dedication to the advancement of the aerospace industry. He remained a senior advisor for Lockheed until his death on November 25, 2009 in Pebble Beach, California.

Robert A. Fuhrman  (1991)

Col. Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski, USAF, Retired (2005)


Col. Francis Stanley Gabreski was born to Polish immigrants in Oil City, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1919. "Gabby" began flying lesions while at the University of Notre Dame, and when World War II erupted with the Nazi invasion of Poland, Gabreski eagerly joined the Army Air Corps, earning his wings in 1941. As a second lieutenant, he joined a fighter unit at Wheeler Field in Hawaii. On the morning of December 7, 1941, he managed to get airborne in a P-36 fighter, but by then the Japanese pilots were nowhere to be found. 

Because he spoke Polish and had strong feelings about what the Nazis had done to Poland, Gabreski asked to be assigned to a Polish fighter united attached to the Royal Air Force. He flew missions over Europe with Polish pilots early in 1943 before joining the United States 56th Fighter Group in Britain.

He went on to become known as America's World War II Air Ace in Europe. Flying single-engine P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, Gabreski downed 28 German aircraft between August, 1943 and July, 1944. He also destroyed three more aircraft on the ground.

Gabby was captured in July, 1944 after crash landing near Koblenz, Germany and endured 10 months as a prisoner of war. After the war, Gabreski worked for Grumman Aerospace and was also head of the Long Island Rail Road-the nation's busiest commuter line.

In August, 1949, Gabreski was reassigned to the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan as Commanding Officer. He was later assigned to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea and became Commander of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. While with the 51st, Gabreski became history's eighth "Jet Ace." Flying an F-86 Sabre jet, he shot down six Soviet built MiG-15 fighters and shared credit for the downing of another.

Gabreski flew 266 combat missions in two wars, twice earning his "Ace" status by destroying 31 enemy aircraft in World War II and 6 and-a-half enemy aircraft in Korea for a total of 37 and-a-half aircraft.

After his war-time duties, Gabreski served in several important military positions and completed Command and Staff School to become Deputy Chief of Staff Operations for the Ninth Air Force in 1955. Gabreski then went to Okinawa to become Commander of the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1950. Two years later he served as Director of the Secretariat for the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Air Force in Hawaii, and later as its Inspector General.

In 1964, he became commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing and left the Air Force from this assignment in 1967, ending a military career that earned him nearly every military air honor.

Among his many decorations were: The Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with nine Oak Leave Clusters, Air Medal with four clusters, the Bronze Star, the French Legion D'Honneur and Croix de Guerre with Palm, Polish Cross of Valor, the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

Later in life, Gabby lived in Dix Hills, New York. He died January 31, 2002. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 8, 2005.

Col. Francis S. “Gabby” Gabreski, USAF, Retired (2005)

Vice Adm. Richard K. Gallagher, USN, Retired (2013)

Vice Adm. Richard K. Gallagher was born in Traverse City, Michigan. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1976 and was designated a naval aviator in September 1977 at Chase Field in Beeville, Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in public administration from George Washington University, and attended the military's Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Gallagher's first fleet assignment was to Fighter Squadron 103 where he was deployed twice aboard the USS Saratoga, flying both the F-4J and F-4S. In October 1981, he reported for pilot transition in the F-14 to Fighter Squadron 101 at Naval Air Station Oceana, where he remained as an instructor.

Following an F-14 fleet tour in Fighter Squadron 143, Gallagher reported to Naval Strike Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada in October 1987. While there, he served as their operations officer and flew the F/A-18 and F-14.

In February 1990, Gallagher was promoted and reported to Fighter Squadron 142 as executive officer, and then as commanding officer, making two deployments aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower spanning Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He went on to command the Navy Fighter Weapons School, TOPGUN, from September 1993 to December 1994, flying the F-16N and F-14. He underwent nuclear power training in January 1995 and served as the executive officer of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower from September 1996 to October 1997.

Gallagher commanded the USS Inchon-the world's only mine counter measures command and support ship-from January 1998 to June 1999. From there, he became the third commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. While on this tour, he piloted the F/A-18 Hornet from his own flight deck, and was proud to become an honorary master chief petty officer.

He then was promoted to flag rank and assumed duties as the head of Policy with NATO at SACLANT in Norfolk, Virginia from 2001 to 2003. In October of 2003, Gallagher assumed command of Carrier Group 4, which was re-designated Commander, Carrier Strike Force Training Atlantic in October of the following year.

The Gallaghers then departed to Europe for seven years where he was the U.S. European Command's director of the European Plans and Operations Center, and then remained in Germany to become the EUCOM deputy commander. His last assignment on active duty was in Brussels, Belgium as the U.S. military representative to the NATO Military Committee.

Vice Admiral Gallagher has logged more than 4,000 flight hours and 800 carrier landings while operating a number of different fighter aircraft, including the F-4, F-14, F/A-18 and F-16N.

He has received two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, and numerous other awards.

In September 2012, Gallagher retired from the Navy after 36 years. He was recently awarded the "Amicus Wimpina" medal by the good people of Bad Wimpfen, Germany, signifying their long relationship and mutual respect. He has also participated in two forums on Iran sponsored by the Hinckley Institute of Politics in Salt Lake City and UCLA, dealing with issues regarding the Iran-U.S. relationship, giving his expert opinion on the subject. Gallagher currently volunteers with the National Ability Center of Park City, Utah, helping those with disabilities learn adaptive skills through sports and recreation.

Vice Adm. Richard K. Gallagher, USN, Retired (2013)

William E. Gehman (2004)


Bill Gehman was born April 2, 1941 in Vermontville, MI. His life has been dedicated to the improvement of aviation not only in Michigan, but also across the nation. His love of aviation was passed on to him from his father who had been a pilot since the late 1930s. 

Bill received his solo license on his 16th birthday, followed by his private pilot's license on his 17th birthday, and has been flying ever since. He has received his commercial, instrument, and multi-engine ratings, along with a C.F.I. and an airframe and powerplant license.

In 1965, Bill graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in aviation engineering. He began his aviation career with Peckham Engineering, an airport engineering firm. In 1963, he married Cynthia Rae Anderson and they went on to have three children: Deborah, Melissa and William Ray. By 2004 they had four grandchildren.

Bill joined the Federal Aviation Administration in 1972 as the engineer responsible for federal airport projects in southeast Michigan. In 1974, he left the FAA to work at the Michigan Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1985, Bill was appointed Director of the Bureau and Director of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission. Some of his accomplishments as director include:

- Advanced Michigan Department of Transportation's Airport Development Program for funding capital projects at the state's public-use airports from $40 million to more than $120 million annually.

- Developed a nationally-recognized Air Service program to assist out-state carrier airports in obtaining and retaining quality air service.

- Crate one of the most aggressive General Aviation airport
preservation programs in the country.

- Establish an All Weather Airport Access program for general aviation airports to improve flight safety.

- Designed and built the nation's first mobile aircraft fire fighting training unit to substantially reduce the cost for federally mandated training of airport firefighters.

- Championed legislation that improves an airport's ability to protect against incompatible land use infringement around airports.

Bill has also provided leadership at the national level, impacting national aviation legislation through his active roles in the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the Center for Aviation Education and Research and the National Transportation Research Board.

Bill has received recognition through several awards. Some of the more notable are: The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official's President's Award; The Michigan Association of Airport Executives President's Award; and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's President's Award for his efforts in preserving general aviation airports.
William E. Gehman was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2004.


William E. Gehman (2004)

Col. John R. Ghere, USA, Retired (2006)


Col. John R. Ghere was commissioned as a cavalry officer on August 3, 1958 after graduating from Central Michigan University and completion of ROTC training. He entered active duty November 2, 1958 at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. After attending the officer basic course at Ft. Knox, he was assigned to A Company, 32 Tank Battalion, Ft. Stewart, Georgia. Ghere remained in the 32nd Tank Battalion until he was selected for flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama where he graduated from fixed-wing school class 60-4 and received his Army wings on July 22, 1960. He was then assigned to the 7th Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea where he served as the 2nd Brig. Flight Aviation Commander for his one-year tour of duty.

Ghere returned to the US and was assigned to the 11th Air Assault Division, Fort Benning, GA. He was one of the leaders in the development phase of the Air Cavalry concept of helicopter weapons systems and air cavalry tactics. In July 1965, Ghere arrived in the Republic of Viet Nam with the advance party of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. He served as executive officer, platoon commander, section leader and as a pilot of a helicopter gun ship in B Troop, 1/9th Air Cavalry Squadron, where he accumulated 505 combat flying hours. In July 1968, Ghere joined the Michigan National Guard where he served for 20 years. He commanded the aviation unit in Grand Ledge for four years from 1971-1975 and was instrumental in developing the Helicopter door gunner training and helicopter aerial rocket training at Camp Grayling. He has commanded at all levels and served on the Michigan State HQ staff as the State civil disturbance operations training officer.

In 1988, Ghere retired from the Michigan National Guard at which time he joined the US Army Reserve and was attached to the Michigan State Police as Army liaison. He remained in this position until retirement in October 1994, thus ending 36 years of service in the US Army.

In July 1968, Ghere joined the Michigan National Guard where he served for 20 years. He commanded the aviation unit in Grand Ledge for four years from 1971-1975 and was instrumental in developing the Helicopter door gunner training and helicopter aerial rocket training at Camp Grayling. He has commanded at all levels and served on the Michigan State HQ staff as the State civil disturbance operations training officer.

In 1988, Ghere retired from the Michigan National Guard at which time he joined the US Army Reserve and was attached to the Michigan State Police as Army liaison. He remained in this position until retirement in October, 1994, thus ending 36 years of service in the US Army.

Military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/22 OLC, Army Commendation Medal and others. He owns and operates his own airfield, Gorilla Aerodrome, at Onondaga, Michigan, which is on his 600-acre farm just south of Lansing. After 1997 he leased the farm out and now enjoys family time and his aviation hobbies still on his home farm.

Col. John R. Ghere, USA, Retired (2006)

Capt. Robert D. Gibb, USAF (2013)


Capt. Robert D. Gibb was born in Detroit on February 16, 1922. He graduated from Lansing Eastern High School and attended Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. 

Gibb joined the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 21, 1942. He was commissioned second lieutenant and awarded his wings on October 9, 1942 upon his completion of P-47 Thunderbolt transition training. Gibb was an original member of the 342nd Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group-the only P-47 squadron in the 5th Air Force, Southwest Pacific Theater. The 348th was based at Westover Field, Massachusetts from November 1942 to March 1943, and then deployed with the group to New Guinea from March 1943 to August 1944. During this time, Gibb flew 135 combat missions and was credited with the destruction of five enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus one damaged and two "probable" enemy aircraft shot down.

Gibb next completed instructor pilot training, and served as an instructor pilot with the 122nd Army Air Force Base Group at Camp Springs, Washington, D.C. from November 1944 to April 1945. He then served as an operations officer with the 301st Fighter Squadron at Shaw Field, South Carolina from April to September 1945. Gibb was discharged on October 24, 1945 having been awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals for his service.

Gibb returned to active duty with the U. S. Air Force in October 1947, serving as an F-80 Shooting Star pilot with the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan from December 1947 to November 1948. He was promoted to captain and served with the 81st Fighter Wing at Wheeler Air Force Base in Hawaii from January to April 1949, followed by service as an Air Force officer with the Hawaii Air National Guard from April 1949 to September 1951.

Gibb was deployed to Korea that same September, serving as an F-84 Thunderjet pilot with the 8th Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group until his failure to return from a mission over Chonulli, North Korea on December 16, 1951.

Gibb was officially listed as missing in action until he was declared dead on December 31, 1953.

Capt. Robert D. Gibb, USAF (2013)

Lt. Col Edgar Allen "Pete" Goff Jr., USAF, Retired (2000)


Lt. Col. Edgar Allen "Pete" Goff Jr. was born in Battle Creek, Michigan in December of 1896. While attending Battle Creek High School in 1911, he and his friends built a gilder which flew to a height of 20 feet in 1912. They later built and flew a powered aircraft in 1915. While these early flights qualified Pete as a member of the "Early Birds," a fraternity of aviators who flew solo prior to December 17, 1916, they prevented him from completing his school work. His high school diploma was award three decades later. 

He enlisted in the Army and earned his pilot's wings as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1919. After World War I, he formed and operated the Battle Creek Air Service from 1919 to 1920, managed the Michigan Aero Service Corp. selling aircraft from 1920 to 1923, and barnstormed promoting aviation in Michigan including the fist Battle Creek Air Races in 1925. When the city built an airport, W.K. Kellogg Field in 1932, he was named its manager. By 1936, he had over 8,000 hours in the air. In 1937, he became a Senior Aeronautical Inspector with the Civil Aviation Administration (the predecessor of the FAA). In World War II he was recalled to duty as Navigation/Briefing Officer of the Air Transport Command, China, Burma, India, flying and charting the "Hump" routes into China. As a Major, he was decorated for producing "The Pilot's Handbook," which was praised widely as an invaluable flyer's navigational aide.

Between World War II and the Korean War, Pete served with the VIP Squadron responsible for the President's aircraft and as Commanding Officer of the USAF Aeronautical Chart Service. The Korean War saw him coordinating military support to the Far East with Military Air Transport Service.

His last USAF assignment was with the Flight Service Center, Wright Patterson AFB during which, at the age of 59, he qualified in jet aircraft. Pete retired a Lieutenant Colonel in 1957 as the sole remaining member of the Early Birds still on active duty and flight status. He passed away in February, 1989, at the age of 92.

Edgar Allen "Pete" Goff Jr. was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2000 as a pioneer in aviation, setting the standards for future aviation developments.

Lt. Col. Edgar Allen “Pete” Goff Jr., USAF, Retired (2000)

Lt. Col. James T. Greshel, USAF, Retired (2000)


Lt. Col. James T. Greshel was born April 4, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio State University in June, 1956 with a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering degree and a commission as a United States Air Force 2nd Lieutenant. 

Entering active duty in June, 1957, he received Air Force Pilot wings in July, 1958. Assigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, he flew the B-47. In July, 1965 he was assigned to the 8th Tactical Bomb Squadron to fly combat over Vietnam in the B-57 Canberra. He completed 169 combat missions, including 43 over North Vietnam.

Jim was assigned to 53 WRS (Air Force Hurricane Hunters) as an Aircraft Commander and Chief, Aircrew Standardization. He flew over 80 missions into named tropical storms as well as weather reconnaissance in direct support of the Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 launches. In August, 1975 he became Chief of Plans and Senior Technical Officer at the Foreign Technology Divisions office in Japan where he collected and disseminated technical intelligence to military units and U.S. Embassies in the Far East.

In March, 1981 he was assigned as USAF Liaison Officer, Michigan Wing, Civil Air Patrol. With the goal of visiting every CAP unit in Michigan, his encouragement and support to the volunteers resulted in enhanced quality of their emergency services and cadet missions. In February, 1983, he became Director of Operations, Great Lakes Region, USAF Liaison Office. During his 28 year USAF career, he received many awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Medals, 14 Air Medals and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

After his retirement from the Air Force in 1985, Jim joined the Michigan Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aeronautics as Administrator, Safety and Services Division. He initiated an enhanced program to provide all weather access to Michigan's airports. In June, 1987 he was appointed by the Aeronautics Commission to be point man with the newly formed Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. He developed bylaws, and set criteria for its operation and has been a Trustee and Vice President for Administration since its inception.

Jim Greshel was enshrined on October 7, 2000 for his integrity, and achievements as a USAF officer, State Division Manager, and servant leader role in developing and operating Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. He passed away October 1, 2015.

Lt. Col. James T. Greshel, USAF, Retired (2000)

CMSgt. Duane D. Hackney, USAF, Retired (2009)


CMSgt. Duane D. Hackney, a native of Flint, was a United States Air Force Pararescueman who volunteered for duty during Vietnam. His job was to be lowered into the jungle to look for survivors of downed aircraft, provide them medical treatment, and then rescue them. Hackney was wounded by taking a .30 caliber slug to his leg on his first rescue mission... but he did not report the incident to avoid being grounded. 

He flew more than 200 combat rescue missions during three tours of Vietnam and survived as a passenger in five helicopters that were shot down.

Hackney was awarded 28 decorations for valor in combat and more than 70 awards and decorations in all including four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 18 Air Medals, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and the Air Force Cross.

Embraced as a hero upon his return from Vietnam in 1967, Hackney had a speaking part on an episode of "I Dream of Genie," and was interviewed on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Tonight Show," "The Joey Bishop Show" and even appeared as a bachelor on "The Dating Game."

In 1967, Hackney and his family were flown to Washington, D.C. for a ceremony in which he received the Cheney Award. He left active duty in 1973 but enlisted again four years later and returned to duty as a pararescue instructor.

He continued his pararescue career until a 1980 training accident grounded him when he fell 90 feet while working on sheer ice on a mountain in Europe. Hackney retired from the Air Force as Chief Master Sergeant in 1991 to manage a security firm. He is still the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force history.

Hackney died at age 46 in 1993. Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio named its training facility after him. His story is also featured in Air Force training manuals.

Duane Hackney was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 18, 2009.


CMSgt. Duane D. Hackney, USAF, Retired (2009)

Henry Allyn Haigh II (2000)


Henry Haigh II was born on December 14, 1924 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His family moved to Dearborn where he attended the Henry Ford High School. Attending formal classes four days a week and working as an apprentice in a Ford factory on the fifth day, Henry not only received a well-rounded academic education, but was capable of operating all of the machines in a fully equipped tool shop. 

As a teen, Henry became involved in building and flying model airplanes. Soon he was participating in model airplane meets on a national level and enjoying the challenges of competition flight.

In 1942, at the age of 18, Henry enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Army Air Corps. He received his pilot wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1943.

At age 20, Henry was flying the B-24 Liberator. He was then assigned to the B-29 transition and graduated in 1945 as an aircraft commander. World War II ended before he and his crew deployed overseas.

In 1946, Henry found himself back in Michigan as a civilian with new priorities and goals in his life. He opened a small manufacturing shop in Brighton, Michigan. Henry bought a Cessna 172 and then bought a Ryan PT-22 and started acrobatic training. Henry's training was mostly self-taught because there were few acrobatic schools.

In 1970, Henry entered his first acrobatic contest in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and finished in third place in the advanced category. Henry competed in many contests, eventually moving himself up to champion status. In 1976, Henry was selected as a member of the U.S. team for the international competition held at Kiev, USSR. Henry placed tenth. His skill continued to improve. He placed second in Austria in 1982; later at Oshkosh, he again placed second; then in 1988 he placed first at Red Deer, Alberta, thus becoming the world champion acrobatic pilot.

Henry won over sixty International Acrobatic Club (IAC) contests. He flew as a member of the U.S. team and was a member of the U.S. Acrobatic Team every year from 1974 to 1991. He flew in eight World Acrobatic Contests and has won five gold medals, seven silver medals and five bronze medals.

Henry A. Haigh II was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2000 for his outstanding skill and performance in world-class acrobatic competitions. He passed away May 2, 2014.

Henry Allyn Haigh II (2000)

Robert L. Hall (2004)


Robert L. Hall was born in Taunton, Massachusetts on August 22, 1905. Over a career spanning over 40 years, including 34 years with the Grumman Aircraft Company, he distinguished himself as an aircraft designer, test pilot and manager. 

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1927 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Hall went to work for the Fairchild Airplane Manufacturing Company in Farmingdale, New York. He decided that to have a complete knowledge of aircraft design, he must learn how to fly, and so he did. In 1929 Hall joined Granville Brothers Aviation. For two years, he was instrumental in designing, test flying and racing all of their products, including the famous "Gee Bee" aircraft, which is one of the most well-known and successful racing aircraft of that era.

In November, 1931, Hall left Granville Brothers and founded Springfield Aviation Corporation, an airplane manufacturing company and flight school. In early 1932, Hall received an order for a Thompson Trophy racer that would be sponsored by the Guggenheim family. In response, he designed the beautiful gull-winged Springfield Bulldog monoplane for the race. Unfortunately, the aircraft was plagued by engine problems and the then-new variable-pitch propeller could only manage a 6th place finish in Cleveland.

In 1933, Hall joined Stinson in Wayne, Michigan, where he was a test pilot in charge of their Experimental Division. While at Stinson, Hall participated in the design of the famous Gill-winged Stinson Reliant. He also continued to race, competing in a modified Gee Bee Model Y, logging almost four hours in August and September of 1933. He also won a race in Wayne County in August of that year.

In 1936, Grumman hired Hall as an engineering test pilot. During his career there, he first-flighted the F4F Wildcat Navy fighter, the TBF Avenger torpedo bomber, the XP-50 Army fighter, as well as the F6F Hellcat, F7F Tigercat and the F8F Bearcat Navy fighters. After his engineering test pilot days at Grumman, Hall was given responsibility for the F9F Panther (the first operational jet fighter for the Navy and Marines), the Gulfstream 1 turbo-prop executive aircraft and the XF-10F and F11F Tiger Navy jet fighters.

Hall served as chief engineer at Grumman from 1950 to 1954, as vice president of engineering from 1954 to 1959 and as vice president from 1959 until his retirement in 1970. Hall's 34 years of leadership in engineering and test flying played a great part in establishing Grumman's sterling reputation. He died on February 25, 1991.

Robert L. Hall was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2004.

Robert L. Hall  (2004)

Dennis "Doc" Hallada (2022)

Born in Hancock: Dennis ‘Doc’ Hallada was born in Hancock, Michigan in 1947. He moved with his family to Minnesota in 1951 where he attended and graduated from Aurora-Hoyt Lakes High School in 1965. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966. He graduated from basic training and passed the Army Flight Aptitude Test. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and completed helicopter pilot flight training. He was assigned to Vietnam as a UH-1 Helicopter pilot, completing more than 3000 sorties and 1583 combat flight hours. On October 16, 1966, he was awarded the U.S. Army Broken Wing Award for safely landing an AH-1F Cobra Gunship after experiencing engine failure over mountainous terrain at night on a busy freeway.

During his 18 months of service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, and 30 Air Medals, one being for Valor. While in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, he had performed as aircraft commander, flight platoon leader, and was promoted to Captain. Upon returning from Vietnam, he was assigned to Fort Wolters, Texas as a Helicopter Flight Instructor.

In 1973, he was discharged from the U.S. Army and joined the Michigan Army National Guard. While serving in the Michigan Army National Guard, he worked as a full-time instructor pilot, flying and instructing other pilots in UH-1 and AH-4 helicopters. He retired from Army Aviation in 1999 having flown more than 12,500 hours.


Halada Portrait

Alice H. Hammond (1990)


Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Alice Hirschman Hammond enabled hundreds of women to enhance their opportunities for a career in aviation through proposing, administrating, and establishing funding for the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship, the Amelia Earhart Career Scholarship, and the Amelia Earhart Research Grant. 

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1927, Alice attended the Curtis-Wright School of Aviation, later the Grosse Ile Naval Air Station, and received her private pilot's license in 1931. In 1933, she won the first closed course race for women in Michigan. In 1941, Alice was called into the civilian service to activate and command the first and largest women's flying squadron of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. Subsequently, she was promoted to the Great Lakes Regional Staff of the CAP as Coordinator of Women and later became Executive Officer of the Great Lakes Region. She remained in that position as the Lt. Colonel until 1961 when her husband was transferred to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She transferred to the Civil Air Patrol in Philadelphia where she participated in search and rescue missions and gave orientation flights to CAP cadets. Later she served the CAP as a consultant to the Illinois Wing.
Mrs. Hammond was a friend of Amelia Earhart and upon Amelia's disappearance, she proposed a scholarship be developed to memorialize Amelia. Thus, in 1941, the Ninety-Nines, Inc. established the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Fund. Then, in 1976, the Amelia Earhart Career Scholarship was established to aid women already established with a career in aviation but in need of an upgrade. In 1978 the Amelia Earhart Research Scholarship was developed for women who wish to do advanced research in various fields of aviation.

She competed in 16 All Women's Transcontinental Air Races, placing among the top 10 winners three times. She also served as the President of the Ninety-Nines, Inc. from 1951 to 1953.

Alice Hirschman Hammond was enshrined on September 15, 1990 for her pioneering efforts to establish a place for women in the field of aviation.

Alice H. Hammond  (1990)

Nancy Harkness Love (1989)


Nancy Harkness Love was born in Houghton, Michigan on February 14, 1914. Overcoming great odds, she was instrumental in the opening of military aviation to women. 

After receiving her pilot's license when she was just sixteen years old, she began her aviation career working for the government marking the roofs of large buildings with directions for pilots. She also did extensive test piloting work, particularly in the design of the tricycle landing gear.

In 1942 she convinced the United States Air Force to use women in the capacity of pilots to ferry aircraft from the factories to the military airfields in the U.S. This group was known as the WAF (Women Auxiliary Ferry) and later the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) with Love as commander.
The original contract (WASP were all civilian contract pilots) was to ferry 850 planes a month, but by September 1942, 12,000 aircraft a month were being built. Through vigorous training these women eventually replaced 1,704 male combat pilots who had been ferrying the planes. Love and the WASP eventually flew all of the high performance aircraft such as the P-51, P-40, and two and four engine bombers such as the B-24, B-25, B-17, and B-29, the plane that dropped the atomic bombs.

Through her efforts, women were able to prove their skill as pilots and their value in the war effort. Considering the importance of aviation to the Allied cause, their work may have saved many lives and helped shorten the war.

Love was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for her work in expanding the opportunities for women in aviation and for her heroic efforts on behalf of the Allied cause during World War II.

Nancy Harkness Love (1989)

Richard. E. Harrison (2018)


Richard Harrison was born In Dowagiac, Michigan, on July 2, 1922. He loved flying from an early age, but Dowagiac did not have an airport. He took flying lessons in Niles, 12 miles away, a distance he sometimes covered by bicycle. Harrison received his student certificate in September 1942 and first soloed on October 6. 

Harrison entered military service in November 1942. A private first class after basic training, he was promoted to corporal upon completion of his training as a technician at Lincoln Army Air Base Training School, Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1943. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in Tuskegee, Alabama, from 1943 to 1946. He was both a technician and, because of his prior flight training, an instructor of flight.

At Tuskegee, he flew, and taught others how to fly, in the Beechcraft AT-10, a mostly wooden, two-engine trainer with retractable landing gear; the Piper L-4 Cub (Grasshopper); the Piper J-3 Cub; and the North American TB-25J and B-25J Mitchell medium bomber. The last flight recorded in his log was a B-25J flight on February 11, 1946, from Godman Army Airfield near Fort Knox, Kentucky, then the home of the 477th Bombardment Group (Colored), to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.

After military service, he was employed as a company pilot at Rudy Manufacturing in Dowagiac, flying a Navion single-engine airplane and a Beechcraft twin-engine airplane throughout the Midwest. He was also active in the Civil Air Patrol. It was said he would teach anyone how to fly. Harrison passed away in 1965 in Detroit.

Harrison was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen at the U.S. Capitol on March 29, 2007. The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation s top civilian award presented to those individuals who embody the best quality in America s heritage. It can only be awarded through an Act of Congress, signed into law by the President.

Richard E. Harrison was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 21, 2018, for his special role in teaching and supporting the American military s first African-American airmen and for his lifelong career in aviation.

Richard. E. Harrison (2018)

Willis M. Hawkins (1994)


Willis M. Hawkins was born December 1, 1913 in Kansas City, Missouri. During his long career, he played a major role in design and development of airplanes, missile systems and space vehicles and had managerial responsibility for extensive space and aircraft programs. 

Graduating in 1937 with a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Hawkins began a career at the Lockheed Corporation spanning over 50 years. Hired as a senior detail engineering draftsman in Lockheed's engineering department in Burbank, California, he advanced through a number of key engineering positions.

In the late 1940s Hawkins organized a ram jet test vehicles development group from which the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was launched. Serving as Director of Engineering of that division from 1953 to 1957, he played a prominent role in early missile development and was appointed Assistant General Manger in 1959. Famous among the programs for which he was responsible was the Navy's Polaris and the Air Force satellite systems, including the Agenda space vehicle. He was elected a vice president of Lockheed Corporation in 1960.

Hawkins served as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development for nearly three years beginning in 1963 before resuming his duties as Vice President-Science and Engineering. He then advanced to Senior Vice-President of Science and Engineering in 1969, served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1972 through May, 1980, and after taking an early retirement in 1974, assumed the duties of Senior Vice President of the corporation and as President of the Lockheed-California Co. form late 1976 until April, 1979.

Willis Hawkins received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1963, and an honorary doctor of science degree from Illinois College in 1966. He received the U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1961, Distinguished Civilian Service Awards in 1965 and 1966 for his contributions to the Army's research and development programs and his direction of the U.S./German main battle tank development, and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Reagan in 1988.

Willis M. Hawkins was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 22, 1994 in recognition of his valuable contributions, both technical and managerial, to the aerospace industry.

Willis M. Hawkins  (1994)

Edward H. Heinemann (1989)


Edward Henry Heinemann was born in Saginaw, Michigan on March 14, 1908. Known as "Mr. Attack Aircraft," he is a legend among designers, for he developed a most remarkable and successful collection of aircraft. 

Heinemann first became interested in aviation after taking a joy ride around Catalina Island. After completing several aeronautical design courses, he was hired as a draftsman at the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1926. He joined International Aircraft in 1927 as chief draftsman where he designed the landing gear for their bi-plane. Then as chief engineer of Moreland Aircraft Company he designed his first plane- the Moreland Military Trainer. After joining the Northrup Aircraft Company (later Douglas- El Segundo) in 1932 he designed the dive breaks for their BT-1 Dive Bomber. He became chief engineer of the El Segundo Division of Douglas in 1936. As the U.S. entered World War II, his SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber served as the backbone of the U.S. carrier fleet, eventually receiving credit for sinking more combatant tonnage than any other weapon during WWII. He also designed the DB-7 Boston Bomber, the A-20 Havoc, the BDT Destroyer, the AD-1 Skyraider, and the A-26 Invader, which eventually saw action in three wars.

After the war ended, he set to work exploring transonic flight, and in 1949 his D558-2 Skyraider became the first plane to achieve MACH 2. Later he designed the F3D Skynight, the first jet to down another in night combat, in addition to the turboprop powered A2D Skyshark, and the FD4 Skyray, carrier fighter, for which he received the 1953 Collier Trophy.

In 1958 Heinemann became vice president of military aircraft; however in 1960, after 31 years, he resigned from Douglas and joined Guidance Technology Inc. He then joined General Dynamics in October of 1962, becoming vice president of special products. Upon retiring in 1973, he became an aeronautical consultant.

Heinemann was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his creation of an innovative and ingenious series of aircraft that served the nation both at war and peace.

Edward H. Heinemann  (1989)

Maj. Gen. William A. Henderson, USAF, Retired (2012)


Maj. Gen. William A. Henderson was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1943. He graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and earned his Bachelor of Science from Eastern Michigan University in 1964. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and was sent to Quantico, Virginia for specialized training. He was commissioned in 1964, and after a year of duty in California, was assigned to flight training in Pensacola, Florida and Kingsville, Texas. He received his wings in September, 1967, and was assigned to F-4 Phantom training in Beauford, South Carolina. 

Henderson was assigned to the 3rd Marine Air Wing in Chu Lai, South Vietnam. From October, 1968 to May, 1969, he flew 125 combat missions over South Vietnam, Laos and North Vietnam. In June, 1969, he was assigned as forward air controller with the 1st Marine Division in Da Nang, South Vietnam. Henderson returned to the United States in 1970 and was assigned to a two-year tour of duty at the Naval Air Reserve Facility in Cherry Point, North Carolina as an F-4 check pilot, and, in 1972, as an F-4 instructor pilot. He left active duty in 1974.

Henderson joined the 127th Tactical Fighter Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemens, Michigan in 1977. He piloted F-100s and A-7s with the Wing until January, 1990 when he was assigned as the plans officer at the headquarters of the Michigan Air National Guard. He became deputy commander in 1991, and in May, 1992 was appointed as commander. In 1996 he was promoted to major general.

Henderson's many military decorations and awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential United Citation, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

In 1974, Henderson was employed by General Motors Corp. as professional corporate pilot, earning type ratings in the Sabre 650, Convair 580, Citation 3, 7, and 10, and Gulfstream 3 and 5. He advanced to chief pilot and to director of flight operations with responsibility for all facets of global flight operations. He retired from General Motors in 2003 and currently resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Maj. Gen. William A. Henderson was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.

Maj. Gen. William A. Henderson, USAF, Retired (2012)

Augustus M. Herring (2002)


Augustus Moore Herring was born in Georgia in 1867 to a wealthy cotton broker.  

He was involved in aviation as early as 1888 when, as an engineering student, he began building models of flying machines. Graduating to full size gliders of a design similar to those of the great Otto Lilienthal, he began making improvements on the machines and flying them. Herring worked with aviation icon Octave Chanute beginning in 1894 and off and on through 1898. During that time he built gliders for the renowned engineer and tested many of them at the Indiana Dunes. Herring again made improvements on several of the machines, culminating in a craft called the Chanute-Herring glider.

He also worked with Professor Samuel P. Langley, convincing the aerial experimenter to use curved wings rather than flat ones. One of his unique inventions was the "Herring Regulator," which was a hinged tail that automatically stabilized model flying machines in gusty conditions. While in Langley's employ, Herring also built several of the steam engines that made Langley's models work. In 1896 he submitted patent applications for a powered heavier-than-air-machine. While they were rejected in the United States, they were accepted in Britain and other foreign countries.

Herring built his own gliders and ultimately fixed a two-cylinder compressed air engine to one and flew it on October 10, 1898 from Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. Though his flights could not be considered controlled and sustained, they were some of the earliest recorded powered flights. Eventually Herring went into partnership with Glenn Curtiss, establishing the first company to manufacture airplanes as a business.

After the Herring-Curtiss Company dissolved, Herring set up another, the Herring-Burgess Company of Massachusetts where several aircraft were built and sold. Augustus M. Herring died in 1926 at the age of 59.
He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002.

Augustus M. Herring (2002)

Harry J. Hillaker (1993)


Harry J. Hillaker was born May 9, 1919 in Flint, Michigan. Called the "Father of the F-16," he championed the philosophy of a lightweight fighter aircraft and made significant contributions to aerospace in design, development, and leadership. 

The flight of Lindbergh's first plane over his hometown inspired an ambition to fly and design airplanes. His color-blindness precluded a flying career, so he became focused on design. After studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan, he obtained employment with General Dynamics (then Consolidated Aircraft) and in 1942 was sent to Fort Worth, Texas to work on the B-36 conceptual design.

In a career spanning 44 years, Hillaker's skills played a critical role in such projects as the production of the B-36, the world's first intercontinental bomber; the YB-60, a swept wing, jet powered bomber; the B-58 Hustler, the world's first supersonic bomber; and the F-111, the world's first variable-swept wing combat aircraft.

His most important and impacting achievement, however, was the design, development, and management of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Hillaker initiated the Lightweight Fighter Program in 1965, served as Deputy Chief Engineer on the YF-16 until appointed Director of F-16 Marketing in 1974.

He was next assigned responsibility for Advanced F-16 Programs as Chief Project Engineer until 1980 when he became Vice President, Deputy Program Director F-16XL. He was the source of YF-16 development concepts which resulted in a set of state-of-the-art advances in flight control systems, a variable camber wing, a high-"G" cockpit, and early application of composites.

Hillaker received the Aircraft Design Award for 1985 from the AIAA and the University of Michigan's Board of Regents' Outstanding Achievement Award, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and designed a Distinguished Fellow by his high school in Flint, Michigan. He has also been inducted into the General Dynamics Hall of Fame.

Hillaker was enshrined on August 21, 1993 for outstanding contributions in the design and development of military fighter aircraft. He died in Forth Worth on February 8, 2009.


Harry J. Hillaker (1993)

Capt. Ralph "Randy" Hotton (2020)


Ralph “Randy” Hotton was born on September 8, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan. The son of a tool and die maker at Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run Bomber Plant, Randy, recalls many trips to the Willow Run Airport as a child. Those early days began Randy’s lifelong relationship with Willow Run and aviation.  

His father’s company owned a Lockheed 12A, in which Randy often occupied the right seat, next to company pilot, Bill Haddock. Bill taught Randy how to communicate with Air Traffic Controllers on the aircraft radios.  

After graduating from Troy High School in 1961, Randy studied Secondary Education at Michigan State University. Randy also has a master’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Central Michigan University. In 1965, Randy pursued his dream of becoming a pilot by responding to a U.S. Navy pilot recruiting advertisement. Randy passed the preliminary tests with flying colors and began taking flight lessons from Bill Haddock, accomplishing his first solo flight on May 8, 1965. 

In 1966, Hotton began Aviation Officer Candidate School, where graduated with top honors as best in his class in 1968. Volunteering to fly the Lockheed P-3 Orion, his unit served in southeast Asia, where he was awarded the Air Medal. Randy progressed to Patrol Plane Commander and a P-3 Instructor Pilot. Randy reported to the Naval Recruiting District Detroit in 1977. After three years as a Navy Recruiter, he received orders to the USS Enterprise, where he flew the Carrier On-Board Delivery and served as Officer of the Deck.  

Randy joined the Navy Reserve, where he was assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, as a P-3 Instructor Pilot, eventually taking command. Follow-on assignments included the Armed Forces Staff College and a billet on the Commander Naval Forces Europe Reserve Staff. Randy retired after 26 years of military service. Hotton now works for USA Jet Airlines at Willow Run Airport. Randy has served as Interim Executive Director, as well as Treasurer, of the Yankee Air Museum. In 2016, Randy published a history of Willow Run, titled Willow Run (Images of Aviation). 

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to preserving Michigan’s aviation history, Ralph “Randy” Hotton is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 15, 2020. 

Capt. Ralph "Randy" Hotton (2020)

Cass S. Hough (2012)


Cass S. Hough Sr. was born in Plymouth, Michigan in 1904. He developed an early interest in flight, and in the 1920s, he became one of the earliest licensed pilots in Michigan. 

Hough joined the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve in 1939 and flew many hours in single and multi-engine aircraft from Selfridge Field on weekends. He was called to active duty in 1941, prior to Pearl Harbor. He and three other pilots were selected to fly P-38s as escorts for Gen. F.O. Hunter, commander of the XIII Fighter Command, in a B-17 on a secret flight over the Atlantic to Goxhill, England.

The P-38 Lightning was having difficulty recovering from the high-speed dives necessary on attacks from above in combat, and was being out-performed by the British in mock dogfights. Hough worked to determine how P-38s could pull out of such dives. In September, 1942, he piloted a P-38 on the longest terminal velocity dive then known, recovering by use of trim tabs on the tail. At the time, it was believed the dive had exceeded the speed of sound. In February, 1943, he performed a similar terminal velocity dive in a P-47 Thunderbolt. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for each of these dives.

Hough was assigned by Gen. Doolittle, commander of the 8th Air Force, to lead a small unit to develop solutions to operational problems as well as continuing to fly regular escort missions. This group helped develop lightweight droppable external fuel tanks of a paper-mache-like material to extend the range of fighters; the "droop-snoop" P-38 with a Plexiglas nose for a bombardier, bomb sight and ability to carry two 2,000-pound bombs; a rocket-propelled bomb to penetrate concrete German submarine pens; and the tactic of skip-bombing napalm-filled fuel tanks into enemy positions.

Hough continued to fly missions in support of ground troops until the surrender of Germany when he was transferred to Peterson Field in Colorado, awaiting assignment to the Pacific. He was released from active duty shortly after the end of the war. He rejoined Daisy Manufacturing and continued to fly after he became company chairman with more than 26,000 accident free hours. He also served as a member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission as acting director and as chairman of the Commission. Cass S. Hough passed away in September of 1990.

Among his other numerous awards and decorations were two U.S. Legion of Merits, six U.S. Air Medals, the American Defense, European, African, Middle East Campaigns with seven battle stars and the Distinguished Unit Citation.

Cass S. Hough was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.

Cass S. Hough Sr. (2012)

Maurice R. Hovious (2012)


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.

Maurice R. Hovious (2012)

Harvey M. Hughes (2002)


Harvey Monroe Hughes was born April 14, 1906 in Cutler, Indiana. As a child of 12, while plowing a field, he saw his first airplane and decided that that was for him. It would be three years before he would actually get a ride in an airplane. 

In 1929, as a resident of Lansing, Michigan, Hughes embarked upon his flying career by purchasing a partnership in an OX Challenger aircraft. From that time on, his progress was rapid. He earned his private and commercial ratings and started barnstorming at county fairs. His technique was to fly over the crowds, make noise to attract attention, landing in a nearby field, wait for the crowd, and then use the expression "Wanna go up?"

By 1930, he had obtained his F.A.I. certificate-signed by Orville Wright and his Transport License #6906. Hughes competed in the Cord Derby of 1933, having to make his own, innovative engine repairs along the way. In 1946, flying a F-38 Lightning, Hughes competed in the Bendix Trophy Race, finishing eighth after such notables as Paul Mantz and Jacqueline Cochran, and ahead of others like Rex Mays and Bill Lear.

Hughes was certified as an Air Mail pilot in 1938 and during World War II he trained pilots as part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In 1981 he sold Hughes Flying Service after a lifetime of flying with many of the great early aviators. He passed away on December 22, 2000.

Harvey Monroe Hughes was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002.


Harvey M. Hughes (2002)

Col. Raymond F. Hunter, USAF, Retired (2014)

Col. Raymond Hunter served five enlisted years in the United States Air Force before being commissioned an officer upon obtaining his B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and completing Air Force ROTC. 

Soon after, Hunter completed pilot training, and flew air-to-air refueling tankers from England. He also became a C-47 instructor pilot & flight examiner, and was selected to fly senior U.S. Army officers on Special Air Missions. 

In 1969, Col. Hunter volunteered to serve in Vietnam, where he flew rescue helicopters on Special Operations Missions. Following his return from Vietnam, and while serving as operations officer at Columbus AFB in Mississippi, he achieved Instructor Pilot/Flight Examiner status in helicopters. After other important helicopter and fixed-wing assignments, Hunter assumed command of the 3554th USAF Recruiting Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

He raised the squadron from the lowest ranking in the U.S. to one of the highest. In 1985, following two more key assignments, Col. Hunter was appointed commander of the Air Force ROTC unit at the University of Michigan.

Col. Hunter retired from the USAF in 1988 and became program manager for the Great Lakes & Mid-Atlantic Hazardous Substance Research Center. He is chairman of the Yankee Air Museum, and pilots their B-17 and C-47. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal (5), Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.


Col. Raymond F. Hunter, USAF, Retired (2014)

Lt. Col. Alexander "Jeff" Jefferson, USAF, Retired (1995)


Lt. Col. Alexander "Jeff" Jefferson was born on November 15, 1921, in Detroit, Michigan. He was an instructor pilot with Tuskegee Airmen and spent over 30 years as a science teacher with the Detroit School System. Alex graduated in 1942 from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. 

In July 1944, Alex received his pilot's wings at the Tuskegee Army Airfield followed by three months of combat training at Selfridge Field, Michigan. He was assigned to the 332nd P-51 "Red Tail" fighter group in Ramitelli, Italy. Alex flew 18 long range missions escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers.

On August 12, 1944, three days prior to the invasion of Southern France, Col. Jefferson was shot down by ground fire while strafing radar in the harbor of Toulon. He was captured by German troops and interned for nine months as a prisoner of war, spending the first six months in Stalag Luft III, just east of Berlin. On January 29, 1945, when the Russians started their offensive, the prisoners were relocated by 40 & 8 rail cars to Stalag VIIA near Mooseburg, Germany. On April 29, 1945, the camp was liberated by Patton's Third Army. Upon release, Jefferson traveled down to Dachau, Germany, to witness the atrocities committed by the Nazis. He returned to the United States in 1945 and served as an instrument instructor at Tuskegee Army airfield until its deactivation in 1946. Jefferson was discharged from active duty in 1947 and retired from the Air Force Reserves as a lieutenant colonel in 1969.

Colonel Jefferson earned numerous awards and citations during his tour of duty. Of these include the Air Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, and the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation.

Alexander Jefferson was enshrined on October 14, 1995, for his many years serving his country in one the world's finest combat units-The Tuskegee "Red Tails"-along with his 30 years of dedicated to service to the Michigan school system.

Lt. Col. Alexander “Jeff” Jefferson, USAF, Retired (1995)

Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson (1988)


Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on February 27, 1910. He became one of the world's greatest aeronautical geniuses, playing a leading role in the design of more than 40 of the most advanced aircraft in the world. 

Johnson was educated at the University of Michigan where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1932 and his Master of Science in aeronautical engineering in 1933. After receiving his degree from the University of Michigan, Johnson joined the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.
Throughout Johnson's career at Lockheed, he created innovative concepts in aircraft design. Johnson helped design the Orion 9-D, the Electra, the Hudson bomber, the P-38 Lightning, the Model 18 Lone Star, the B-37 Ventura, PV-1 bombers, and the Constellation. He also created the first jet fighter for the United States, the P-80 Shooting Star.

Johnson was also responsible for the PV-2 Neptune, the "Constitution," the X-7 Ramjet, the T-33, the TV-2, and the F-94 Starfire interceptor. He received the Collier Trophy for the F-104 Starfighter. He also created the C-130 Hercules, the U-2 and the C-140 Jetstar. He helped develop the Agenda D satellite, the YF-12A interceptor and again received the Collier Trophy for the SR-71 Blackbird.

Johnson organized the "Skunk Works" at Lockheed where a small unit of technical and production specialists performed advanced works on new aircraft design. He was a senior vice president of Lockheed, served on the Lockheed Board of Directors and has received world-wide recognition for his contributions to aeronautical science.

Johnson was enshrined on October 14, 1988 for his outstanding and innovative contributions to the science of aircraft design.

Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson (1988)

Maj. Gen. John A. Johnston, USAF, Retired (2001)


Maj. Gen. John A. Johnston was born on January 30, 1923 in Ripley, Ontario, Canada. In the summer of 1923, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan. His first pilot training was in a "cub" during the summer of 1942. That fall, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and in 1944 completed training, during which he flew PT-23, BT-13, AT-6 and P-40 aircraft.

He was shipped to Europe with the 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron when it was formed in July, 1944 and flew P-51s, in which he completed 98 combat missions during World War II. He was shot down and parachuted over France, where he was rescued by the Free French Patriots and returned through enemy lines to a hospital where he remained for 30 days to recover from his injuries.

Gen. Johnston was released from active duty in 1945, but remained in the Reserves and joined the 171st Fighter Squadron when it was formed in 1946. He commanded the 171st when recalled to active duty during the Korean War in 1951. The next year he became a flight instructor and Selection Commander at Air Force instrument training school and all weather school. Gen. Johnston was again released from active duty and in 1952, re-established the Michigan Air National Guard, and was assigned its commander.

He was appointed Asst. Adjutant General of Michigan in 1959 and served as Commander HQ Michigan Air National Guard. He was appointed Adjutant General of Michigan in 1974 and retired in 1983.

Gen. Johnston had 8,000 plus hours of flying time in 25 types of aircraft. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal, Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart, as well as an additional 14 service-connected medals.

From 1983-1995, he was a consultant doing business with Department of Defense agencies, airlines and aircraft manufacturers.
Maj. Gen. John A. Johnston was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001.


Maj. Gen. John A. Johnston, USAF, Retired (2001)

Elwood J. "Sam" Junkin (2014)


Elwood J. "Sam" Junkin was raised in Battle Creek, Michigan where he met Clayton J. Brukner, who shared his love of aviation. After graduating from high school in 1915, the pair became involved with the O.E. Williams Aeroplane Co. and Flying School in Fenton, Michigan, where Junkin learned aviator and mechanical aspects of airplanes. 

In 1917, Junkin and Brukner headed to Buffalo, New York to work at the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corp., followed by work at the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Co. in New Jersey. It was there that they met Harold C. Deuther, George E. "Buck" Weaver and Charlie Meyers. Between 1919 and 1920, the DBJ Aeroplane Co. was formed by Deuther, Bruckner and Junkin in Lorain, Ohio.

In 1920, Deuther returned to his home in New York and Weaver again joined the group. They established a formal company named Weaver Aircraft Co., "WACO." The first airplane built was a high-wing parasol named the "Cootie." In 1921 Weaver Aircraft Co. built its first practical airplane, the WACO Model 4.
In 1922, Weaver left the Weaver Aircraft Co. when Brukner and Junkin moved operations to Medina, Ohio. In 1923 the Weaver Aircraft Co. moved to Troy, Ohio, and reorganized as the Advanced Aircraft Co. Weaver passed away in 1924.

On June 21, 1925, Junkin married Hattie (Meyers) Weaver, Buck's widow, and they had a daughter, Janet, in 1926. Not long after, Junkin became seriously ill, dying on November 1, 1926. It was believed his death was caused by effects from childhood rheumatic fever. He was survived by his seven-week-old daughter Janet, his wife Hattie, and seven-year-old stepson, George Weaver, Jr.

Mr. Junkin, in connection with his partners, was credited with solving some of the most difficult engineering challenges facing aircraft construction of the day. This success was illustrated by the fact that Henry Ford, after testing airplanes from all manufacturers, discarded the rest and kept the WACO, purchasing an additional five machines. It was expected by aviation experts of the time that Mr. Junkin and his associates would achieve the aircraft manufacturing equivalent of what Henry Ford had accomplished in the production of automobiles.

Elwood J. "Sam" Junkin (2014)

Conrad "Connie" Kalitta (2019)


Conrad Kalitta is the owner and CEO of Kalitta Air, LLC, and the owner of three National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel drag racing teams. He has a lifetime of experience in the airline industry dating back to 1967 when he began transporting parts for the automotive industry with a twin engine Cessna 310 that he piloted himself. Over the years, he grew that one airplane operation into a substantial airline, American International Airways, Inc., that used Boeing 747s, Lockheed L-1011s, Douglas DC-8s, Twin Beech, and Learjet aircraft in worldwide airfreight, air ambulance, and charter passenger operations. Kalitta’s civilian acquisition of Wurtsmith Air Force Base facilities to overhaul the turbine engines and airframes of his growing fleet was a milestone in military/civilian cooperation.  Today, Kalitta Air provides scheduled or on-demand charter service in the U.S. and worldwide, and the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service both rely heavily upon Kalitta Air. The company flies twenty-four Boeing 747s and seven 767s, employing more than 1,800 people between their two bases of operation in Ypsilanti and Oscoda.

He is also well-known as a professional drag racer in the Fuel Class of the National Hot Rod Association. He was the first racer ever to exceed 200 miles per hour in an NHRA sanctioned event. In June of 1992, Kalitta was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame for his tremendous contribution to the sport, having won three world championships and setting the world’s speed record on more than one occasion. He has been inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, and is a recipient of the National Hot Rod Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

For his innovative approach to aviation business, for keeping thousands of Michigan citizens employed in aviation, and for being a champion for aerospace industry, Connie Kalitta embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.



Conrad “Connie” Kalitta (2019)

Lt. Cdr. Ira C. "Ike" Kepford, USN, Retired (2006)


Lt. Cmdr. Ira C. "Ike" Kepford of Muskegon, Michigan was one of the top naval fighter aces in World War II. He is credited with 16 confirmed and proven air-to-air combat victories. 

Kepford scored his victories in six engagements between November 11, 1943 and February 19, 1944. He was a member of the elite VF-17 "Jolly Rogers" squadron flying F4U-1A Corsair Fighters. This squadron produced more aces than any other fighter squadron in World War II. Kepford was the highest scoring of these aces.

The Japanese deployed their best fighter squadrons in these engagements in a desperate attempt to try and hold their bases in the Bougainville - Rabaul Area. VF-17, with then Ensign Ira Kepford, was among the air units deployed against them in what is known as a "tip of the spear" formation, meaning right in front. The Japanese air forces were completely decimated and incurred losses that they were never able to replace.

After February 19, 1944, the Japanese withdrew what little remained of their air forces. They ceased to defend Rabaul from any air attacks.

These were primarily bomber escort missions for VF-17. Neither bombers nor ships were lost to enemy air attack while under the protection of VF-17. Kepford was more proud of this than his personal victories in air-to-air combat.

Kepford was born to George and Emma Kepford on May 29, 1919 in Illinois. The Kepford family moved to Muskegon, Michigan shortly after Ike was born. He was an outstanding scholar and athlete at Muskegon Sr. High School. A blocking back on the championship football teams, he was captain of the State Championship 1937 team and elected to the All-State Team. This was in spite of his small size: 135 lb. From there, Ike went on to Northwestern University where he repeated academic and athletic performance. He captained the 1939-41 teams that won national ranking. His football experiences undoubtedly prepared him well for his career as a fighter pilot.

Ike enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on August 18, 1941. He received his flight training at Naval Air Stations, Corpus Christi, Texas and Miami, Florida and graduated at the top of his class. He was assigned to VF-17 in December, 1942.

After VF-17 was decommissioned on April 10, 1944, Kepford was attached to Fleet Air, Alameda, Command. He served the last six months of 1944 with VF-84. In December, 1944 he was transferred to the Staff of the Commander Fleet Air, West Coast. He served in that assignment for the remainder of the war. Under these assignments, Ike helped train and prepare the VF-84 for combat and helped qualify the Grumman F8F Bearcat Fighter for operational service.

After the war, Ike married Miss Esther M. Kraegal. They had two children together, a daughter Tracy and a son Tim. Ike pursued a business career with the Liggett-Rexall Drug Company following the war and later became its president. He retired in the early 1970s and settled in Harbor Springs, Michigan. He remained there until he passed away on January 19, 1987. Ike Kepford was highly successful as a scholar, an athlete, a fighter pilot and a businessman.

Kepford was awarded the Navy Cross for his Nov. 11 mission; Gold Star in lieu of Navy Cross for his Jan. 29 mission; Silver Star for actions from his Jan. 27 to Feb. 19; Distinguished Flying Cross for actions from his Oct. 27 to Dec. 1 missions; Ribbon for the Navy Unit Commendation VF-17; American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and World War II Victory Medal.

Kepford was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2006 for his skill and heroism beyond the call of duty, and gallantry and audacity as a fighter pilot in VF-17 during World War II.

Lt. Cdr. Ira C. “Ike” Kepford, USN, Retired (2006)

Albert Grant Kettles (2000)


Albert Grant Kettles was born in Bruce Mines, Ontario, Canada on January 3, 1898. When World War I began in Europe, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, and at the age of 17 made his way into the aviator ranks and was sent into combat in Italy. While with the 66th Squadron, he was credited with downing a balloon (equated to 4 aircraft). He returned to his home in Canada on April 3, 1919. 

In 1924 Grant left the banking business, married Cora Lee Stobie and moved to the United States where he worked for Dodge Motor Company stripping bodies and, on a part time basis, gave flying lesions in Detroit.
In 1927 he became a pilot with SKF Flying Service in Lansing, Michigan, providing flight instruction and passenger service. Concurrently, he served as station manager for Kohler Airlines, station agent for Pennsylvania Central Airlines, test pilot for Driggs Aircraft company and a part-time pilot for the State of Michigan. Grant flew the first Driggs Skylark X592E.

In 1934 Grant became the first Chief Pilot for the State of Michigan and in 1938 he became one of the first instrument qualified pilots in the state.

The day after the United States entered World War II, Grant volunteered to serve in the Air Transport Command at Romulus and shortly thereafter accepted a commission as a Captain, U.S. Army Air Corp. Some 200 aviators volunteered, but only two were instrument qualified. Therefore, Grant was frequently assigned to lead flights over the Atlantic as the only instrument qualified pilot among the crews. He was also assigned to fly Cordell Hull, then Secretary of State, to a high level conference in Moscow. By the end of World War II, Grant had qualified in about every aircraft within the Air Corps inventory from the P-38 to the B-29. With the end of World War II, Grant returned to civilian aviation in 1945 as Chief Pilot, Ford Motor Company. In 1947 he became Chief Pilot for Abrams Aerial Survey in Lansing, Michigan where he remained until his retirement in 1966.

Albert Grant Kettles died on December 19, 1972. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 7, 2000 for his long and illustrious aviation career which included serving the State of Michigan and voluntarily serving under two nations during two World Wars.


Albert Grant Kettles (2000)

Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles, USA, Retired (2019)


Lt. Col. Charles Kettles was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on January 9, 1930. The son of a World War I RAF, World War II Air Transport Command pilot, and 2000 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinee, Kettles had aviation in his blood. 

Kettles was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army at age 21. He graduated from the Army Aviation School in 1953, before serving active duty tours in Korea, Japan, and Thailand. He returned to the U.S. in 1965 and established a Ford Dealership in DeWitt, Michigan, with his brother, and continued his service with the Army Reserve. He answered the call to serve once again in 1963, when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and needed pilots.

On May 15, 1967, then Major Kettles volunteered to lead a flight of six UH-1D Huey helicopters to carry reinforcements to an embattled force and to evacuate wounded personnel over Vietnam. He landed in intense enemy fire that seriously wounded his gunner and severely damaged his aircraft. Despite the risk posed by leaking fuel, Major Kettles nursed the aircraft back to base. Later that day, the Infantry Battalion Commander requested emergency extraction of the remaining 40 troops. With only one flyable UH-1D remaining, Major Kettles volunteered to return to the deadly landing zone, leading a flight of five other helicopters from the 161st Aviation Company. Once airborne with rescued personnel aboard, Major Kettles was advised that eight troops had been unable to reach the landing zone due to heavy enemy fire. Major Kettles passed the lead to another helicopter and returned to the landing zone to rescue the remaining troops. Without gunship, artillery, or tactical aircraft support, the enemy concentrated all firepower on his lone aircraft, which was immediately damaged by a mortar round that shattered both front windshields, the chin bubble, and was further raked by machine gun fire. Despite the severe damage, Major Kettles skillfully guided his aircraft to safety, with all eight rescued personnel aboard. These actions earned Kettles the Distinguished Service Cross in 1968. Following a special Act of Congress in 2016, Kettles’ award was upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor.

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Our Lady of the Lake University and earned his master’s degree in commercial construction at Eastern Michigan University. He developed and taught the Aviation Management Program at the College of Technology and later worked for Chrysler Pentastar Aviation until his retirement in 1993.  Colonel Kettles passed away on January 21, 2019.

For his selfless acts of heroism and his dedication to furthering education in aviation, Colonel Charles Kettles embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.


Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles, USA, Retired (2019)

Dr. Richard Kik Jr. (2019)


Richard Kik Jr. was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and moved to Kalamazoo as a child. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1941 and enrolled at the Michigan College of Education, now known as Western Michigan University.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Kik enlisted in the Army Air Corps and completed training as a fighter pilot. He was assigned to the 395th Fighter Squadron, the “Panzer Dusters”. In March 1944, he was deployed to the United States Army Air Forces Station 404 in Chilbolton, England, flying P-47 Thunderbolts.

He moved with his squadron to France and Belgium after the D-Day invasion and, in November 1944, returned to the United States and was promoted to Captain. Captain Kik flew 120 combat missions in Europe and was awarded the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and fourteen Air Medals.

In the United States, Captain Kik was assigned as an Instructor Pilot until the end of the war, when he left active duty to join the Air Force Reserve Command flying out of Selfridge Air Force Base until 1955.

He returned to Western Michigan University where he helped start the Sky Broncos flying club in 1946. He graduated from WMU in 1949 and earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1953.

Dr. Kik was a Family Practice Physician for 48 years, 44 of those years in Richland, Michigan. He served as a Deputy Medical Examiner for Kalamazoo County for 36 years.  Dr. Kik passed away on September 20, 2005.

For furthering the education of aviation, and for his dedication to his country and its citizens, Dr Richard Kik Jr. embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dr. Richard Kik Jr. (2019)

Capt. Iven C. "Kinch" Kincheloe Jr., USAF (1996)


Capt. Iven C. " Kinch" Kincheloe Jr. was born July 2, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. His family subsequently moved to Cassopolis, Michigan, where he would go on to become a combat pilot, test pilot, and "the first of [the United States'] spacemen." 

Iven's aviation career started in 1949 when he received his commission in the Air Force through the Air Force R.O.T.C. program at Purdue University. He graduated from Purdue with degrees in Mechanical and Aeronautical engineering. He began his pilot training at Randolf Field, Texas, and went on to the Air Force Jet Fighter School at Williams AFB, Arizona where he received his wings.

He was assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing in Korea completing 30 missions flying the F-80 and an additional 101 combat missions as an F-86 pilot. Captain Kincheloe was a jet ace in Korea with credits for ten aircraft destroyed and eleven damaged.

After Korea he attended the British Empire Test Pilot's School in England. In 1955 he was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base, California.
ON September 7, 1956 Iven was the first human to fly beyond 100,000 feet when he piloted the Bell X-2 to 126,200 feet (23.9 miles).
Captain Kincheloe was selected to fly the X-15 to outer space when development was complete. He participated in the flight development of all century series military aircraft built during the middle and late 1950s.

Kincheloe was named Chief of the Manned Spacecraft branch section; USAF project officer for the F-106 and the F-104. Kincheloe lost his life on July 26, 1958 when his F-104 suffered an engine failure on takeoff at Edwards AFB. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

He earned the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals, the Mackay Trophy, David C. Schilling Trophy, American Rocket Society's Astronautic Award, USAF Legion of Merit, Haley Astronautics Award and AFA Air Progress Award. Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan was named in his honor in 1959.

Captain Iven C. Kincheloe, USAF was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his combat flying skills in Korea and for his leadership in testing the X-2 high altitude space ship and high speed military jet aircraft.

Capt. Iven C. “Kinch” Kincheloe Jr., USAF (1996)

James H. "Jack" Knight (1999)


James H. "Jack" Knight was born in Lincoln Center, Kansas on March 14, 1892. Following his mother's death in 1893, he moved to Buchanan, Michigan where he grew up and completed high school. In 1911 he decided to pursue a flying career and acquired the nickname Jack. 

In 1917 Jack enlisted in the war against Germany. After eight weeks of ground training he was sent to Ellington Field, Texas where he learned to fly and became an instructor pilot. At the close of the war, Jack returned to his former position as a mechanical engineer in Chicago.

In 1919 he won wide acclaim when he flew a special newly developed botulism serum from Urbana, Illinois to New York City to save six persons poisoned by ripe olives. The same year, he became a pilot for the U.S. Mail Service flying mail between New York and Chicago and later between Omaha and Cheyenne.

He collaborated on establishing the first practical demonstration of two-way ground-air radio communication and also pioneered in establishing air beacon systems for night flying.

The Post Office Department had initiated around-the-clock relay airmail service between New York and San Francisco with two planes flying east and two flying west. Airplanes then had no radio navigation aids so people on the ground would light bonfires to guide the pilots. The planes would land every 200-300 miles to refuel and change pilots.

Flying a de Havilland D.H. 4, Knight made his regular run from Omaha to Cheyenne and then back to meet the next pilot. However, the airplane for the Omaha to Chicago leg was "socked in" by weather in Chicago.

Convinced that the future of airmail service was riding on his flight, he took off for Chicago where he landed at 8:40 in the morning. His flight captured public imagination and Congress agreed to continue funding airmail service.
Knight later flew for United Airlines, retiring in 1937. In total, he flew more than 2,400,000 air miles. He passed away at the age of 53 in 1945.

James H. "Jack" Knight was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on September 25, 1999 for his fearless flying skills under adverse weather conditions and his part in pioneering the safe and effective all weather aviation routes of today.

James H. "Jack" Knight (1999)



Christina Koch was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on January 29, 1979, moving to North Carolina at age 3. Christina dreamed of becoming an astronaut and attended NASA Space Camp. Christina graduated from North Carolina State with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Electrical Engineering and a master’s in Electrical Engineering.

After graduation, Christina took science and engineering jobs in remote locations such Antarctica, Greenland, the Northern coast of Alaska, and American Samoa. She became the first woman to serve as a cryogenics technician at the South Pole. One of the scientific instruments she worked on traveled on the Jupiter Juno Missions in 2011. While working in Barrow, Alaska, about 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Christina submitted her NASA application.

After interviewing, NASA selected her for the 2011 Astronaut Candidate Class.  During her training she mastered the T6 turboprop plane and learned to fly NASA’s T38 supersonic jets. She was required to learn survival skills and take Russian lessons. She completed her training in 2015. During her missions, Christina set several records. She made history with the longest single spaceflight by a woman—328 days in space. On October 28, 2019, she participated in the first all-woman spacewalk with fellow astronaut, Jessica Meir. Christina participated in three ISS space missions and six spacewalks. Christina returned to Earth on February 6, 2020. That same year, she received an honorary PhD from North Carolina State University. Christina is currently training as an Artemis Team Member.



Capt. David C. Leestma, USN, Retired (2006)


Born on May 6, 1949 in Muskegon, Michigan, Capt. David C. Leestma (USN-Ret.) has logged more than 3,500 hours of flight time, including nearly 1,500 hours in the Navy F-14A, and is a veteran of three space shuttle flights.

After graduating from Tustin High School in California in 1967, Leestma went onto the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated first in the class of 1971 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and a master's degree in science the next year from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

Leestma earned his gold wings in October of 1973 and made three overseas deployments to the Mediterranean/North Atlantic areas while flying aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. In 1977, he was reassigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4) at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. As an operational test director with the F-14A, he conducted the first operational testing of new tactical software for the F-14 and completed the follow-on test and evaluation of new F-14A avionics, including the programmable signal processor. He also served as fleet model manager for the F-14A tactical manual.

As a naval aviator, Leestma earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation (VX-4), National Defense Service Medal, Battle "E" Award (VF-32), and the Rear Admiral Thurston James Award (1973).

He joined the NASA astronaut corps in 1980 and logged a total of 532.7 hours in space on three missions. He served as a mission specialist on the STS-41G flight of Challenger in October of 1984, during which he took part in a three and one-half hour space walk to demonstrate the feasibility of satellite refueling.

Leestma was on the crew of Columbia for STS-28 in August of 1989, which carried Department of Defense payloads and a number of secondary payloads for 80 orbits. His final shuttle flight was the nine-day STS-45 aboard Atlantis in 1992.

Leestma has also served in many management roles at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, including Chief of the Mission Development Branch, Deputy Director and Director of Flight Crew Operations, Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of the Astronaut Office, Deputy Director of Engineering, Project Manager for the Space Launch Initiative, Assistant Program Manager for the Orbital Space Plane, Manager of the Exploration Programs Office.

At the time of his enshrinement in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame in October, 2006, Leestma was in charge of the space center's Advanced Planning office preparing NASA for human missions to the moon and Mars.

His honors since joining the space agency include the NASA Space Flight Medal (1984, 1989, 1992), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1985, 1988, 1991, 1992), and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1993, 1994). He was awarded the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in 1998 and again in 2004.

Capt. David C. Leestma, USN, Retired (2006)

Edgar J. Lesher (1988)


Edger James Lesher was born July 31, 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. As a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, he made significant contributions to aviation as a teacher and engineer. 

Lesher received a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan and joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1942. While he taught courses in all aspects of aircraft, he also had a major impact through his widely known airplane design courses. In the late 1950s, Edgar Lesher decided to "practice what he preached," and started to design his first airplane. In 1961, the NOMAD SN-1 made its maiden flight. This was the first of the pusher prop designs for which he is internationally known.

After 5,000 hours of personal engineering and construction time, Lesher's second plane, the TEAL, made its first flight on April 28, 1965 at Willow Run Airport. In 1968, Lesher made a series of record setting flights for speed in a closed circuit course in the TEAL. He was awarded the 1968 Bleriot Medal by the Federation Aeronautique International. Lesher continued to set new records with TEAL, receiving the Louis Bleriot Medal again in 1970, 1974, and 1976.

Lesher was enshrined on October 14, 1988 for his dedicated service as an educator and engineer, advancing the science of aircraft design.

Edgar J. Lesher (1988)

Lt. Gen. James E. Light Jr., USAF, Retired (2011)


Lt. Gen. James E. Light Jr. was born in 1927 and raised in Lansing, Michigan. In December, 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until 1947 as a control tower operator. He entered the aviation cadet program, completed basic and advanced pilot training, and was assigned as a basic flying instructor at Randolph Air Force Base. 

After serving as a flight commander in basic pilot training programs, Light was assigned as flight commander at Randolph AFB in the T-38 program which established the curriculum and graduated the first T-38 class in 1962. In June, 1963, he made the first T-38 trans-Atlantic crossing and flew in the Paris Air Show.

In June, 1964, he became assistant operations officer for the 417th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein AFB in Germany flying F-100s.

After F-105 operational training at Nellis AFB in Nevada, Light was assigned as squadron operations officer, 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB in Thailand in August 1967. He then served as chief Combat Analysis Branch, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing. During this tour of duty, Light flew 100 combat missions.

After assigned duty at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., Light returned to Thailand in September, 1970 as commander, 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, flying F-4s.

Upon fulfilling progressively more responsible appointments in the United States, Light became commander, 28th Bombardment Wing at Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota in April, 1974. Subsequent posts included deputy chief of staff for logistics, Strategic Air Command, and Commander, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, one of the world's largest aircraft and jet engine overhaul facilities. In September, 1983, he was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed commander, 15th Air Force at March AFB in California. Light retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1988.

Light has flown more than 11,000 hours in more than 15 aircraft types, as well as accumulating 500 combat hours during 220 combat missions. He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with six oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters.

He passed away June 6, 2012.

Lt. Gen. James E. Light Jr. was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011.



Lt. Gen. James E. Light Jr., USAF, Retired (2011)

Brig. Gen. Charles A. Lindbergh, USAF, Retired (1992)


Brig. Gen. Charles A. Lindbergh, USAF, Retired (1992) was born on February 4, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. He is best known for his 1927 transatlantic flight. 

Lindbergh became a student at Nebraska Aircraft Corporation in 1922. Buying a wartime "Jenny," he began a barnstorming career. In 1924, he enlisted in the Air Services and received a commission in the Reserves and became an Army Air Mail Service Pilot.

Planning to attempt the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic, Lindbergh bought a Ryan Monoplane and named it the "Spirit of St. Louis." On May 20, 1927, he took off from Roosevelt Field in New York. Flying through the rain and fox without a parachute or radio, he desperately fought sleep. The next day, he landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris, France. His total flight time was 33 hours and 30 minutes. A hero overnight, great honors, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, were bestowed upon him. Afterward he made Goodwill flights, to Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and Asia.

In 1933 Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, made extensive survey flights over possible transoceanic commercial air routes. Observing the buildup of air power in Europe, he reported his findings to Army Air Corps. During World War II, he served the nation as a civilian consultant and received special commendations from the U.S. government for missions in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Lindbergh contributed a great deal of research work to the U.S. Air Force and retired as a brigadier general in the Reserves.

Lindbergh is the author of We (1927) and Of Flight and Life (1948). He also wrote an autobiography, The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), which won him a Pulitzer Prize. Lindbergh has received the 1953, Daniel Guggenheim International Aviation Award and the Distinguished Service Cross.

Lindbergh was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame on December 19, 1967 and the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on November 7, 1992 for outstanding contributions to aviation by his historic transatlantic solo flight, pioneering of air routes, and technical service to aeronautical organizations.

Brig. Gen. Charles A. Lindbergh, USAF, Retired (1992)

Capt. Jerry M. Linenger, USN, Retired (1999)


Capt. Jerry M. Linenger was born on January 16, 1955 in Eastpointe, Michigan. As a Naval Academy graduate and physician, he holds two master's degrees (policy and management) and a second doctorate (research) in addition to his medical degree. 

After completing a surgical internship and aerospace medicine training, he served as a flight surgeon at NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. He was then assigned as Force Flight Surgeon for Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Following formal preventative medicine training, he worked as a sports medicine consultant and researcher, including work with the Navy SEALS.

Linenger joined astronaut selection Group XIV at Johnson Space Center in August, 1992. In the shortest time ever from start of astronaut training until flying in space, he flew his first space mission about Space Shuttle Discovery (STS 64, September 9-20, 1994).

Following his return to the planet, he moved to the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia to begin preparation for a long duration space station mission. All of the training-from technical systems to space operations-was conducted in Russian.

During his Mir mission-132 days, the longest space mission ever flown by an American male at the time-he logged 50 million miles in more than 2,000 orbits around the Earth. Traveling at 18,000 miles per hour, he was the first American to undock from a space station in a Soyuz capsule and the first American to perform a spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit (the flight test of the new Orlan-M spacesuit).

The aging Mir provided challenges no one had anticipated, including the repeated breakdowns of the oxygen generator and other vital life support systems; the loss of computer stabilization and the resultant tumbling of the station; a near-collision with an errant resupply vessel, and the outbreak of the most severe fire to occur onboard an orbiting spacecraft. The crew overcame these challenges and by the close of the mission, and in spite of the difficulties, they had accomplished all science and operational goal.

Jerry M. Linenger, U.S. astronaut and Mir cosmonaut, was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on September 25, 1999 for his contributions to the U.S. and international space programs.

Capt. Jerry M. Linenger, USN, Retired (1999)

Gen. Earl T. O' Loughlin, USAF, Retired (1990)


Gen. Earl T. O'Loughlin was born on August 2, 1930 in Bay City, Michigan. A highly decorated officer in the United States Air Force, he has dedicated his career to the service of his country and excellence in flight. 

His military services began as an enlisted airman in 1951. He became an aviation cadet, and upon completion of pilot training in 1952 was commissioned a second lieutenant.

As a command pilot with more than 6,500 hours of flight time, O'Loughlin has flown many different aircraft, including B-29s, B-47s, B-52s, KC-135s, and FB-111s. A decorated combat veteran, he flew 29 combat missions and 224 combat hours in B-29s over North Korea, and served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia.

He has extensive experience in reconnaissance, refueling, maintenance systems, and strategic bombing, and in 1974, while commander of the 380th Bombardment Wing at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York, his wing won the Fairchild Trophy as the best bombardment wing during Strategic Air Command's annual bombing and navigation competition.

From July 1975 to June 1977 he served in the Pentagon as deputy for maintenance, engineering, and supply in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Systems and Logistics. Following that he served as vice commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, deputy chief of staff for contracting and manufacturing, deputy chief of staff for aircraft maintenance at Air Force Logistics Command headquarters, and commander of the San Antonio Air Logistics Center. In 1982 he was named vice commander of Air Force Logistics Command and became its commander in September 1984. He retired on August 1, 1987 as a four star general.

O'Loughlin's military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal and many others.

O'Loughlin was enshrined on September 15, 1990 for his lifelong dedication to military aviation.

Gen. Earl T. O’Loughlin, USAF, Retired (1990)

Col. Jack R. Lousma, USMC, Retired (1989)


Col. Jack Robert Lousma was born on February 29, 1936 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As an astronaut for the NASA space program, he helped greatly advance the science of space flight. 

Lousma was educated at the University of Michigan where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1959, and the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School, where he earned the degree of aeronautical doctorate of astronautical science from the University of Michigan in 1973.

Lousma became a Marine Corps officer in 1959 and received his wings in 1960. He has logged 6,400 hours of flight time with 4,500 hours in jet aircraft and 240 hours in helicopters.

In April 1966, Lousma was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA. He then served as a member of the astronaut support crew who provided critical ground support for the Apollo 9, 10, and 13 missions before being assigned as the pilot of Skylab 3 on its 59 � day flight in 1973, traveling 24,400,000 miles in orbit.

On his second mission, Lousma was commander of the third orbital test flight of the Columbia space shuttle, launched in 1982. Major flight test objectives included the first use of the 50 foot remote manipulator system to grapple the maneuver a payload in space. He has logged 1,619 hours, 13 minutes, and 53 seconds in his two space flights, including 11 hours and 2 minutes in two separate space walks outside the Skylab space station on his first flight.

After leaving NASA he served as an aerospace consultant, the director of Republic Bank of Ann Arbor, an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan and on the President's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.

Lousma has received many awards including Distinguished Service medals from NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the Department of Defense, the Federation Aeronautique International V.M. Komarov Diploma, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, and NASA Space Medal.

He was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his contributions to the exploration of space.


Col. Jack R. Lousma, USMC, Retired (1989)

Neal V. Loving (1997)


Neal V. Loving was born February 4, 1916 in Detroit, Michigan. After falling in love with aviation in 1926, he took his first airplane ride in May, 1930. The next year he entered Cass Technical High School Aero Department and graduated in 1934. In 1935 he designed and built the first of his five home-built airplanes-a glider that never flew. In 1936 Neal began to teach aeromodelling at Detroit youth centers. After soloing in 1938, he built and flew his second glider (S-1) in 1941. That same year, Neal became the first African American instructor at Aero Mechanics High School. After buying a Waco Biplane, he and his friends formed a Civil Air Squadron to provide aviation training for black youth. In response to a letter from CAA in 1942, Neal formed the Wayne Aircraft Company in Detroit to build his S-1 glider as a primary trainer, the first African American to do so in the United States.

On July 30, 1944, Neal crashed his S-1, crushing his legs so badly they were amputated below the knee and he was then fitted with artificial limbs. Production plans for the S-1 glider were cancelled. In 1945, Neal entered the Aero Engineering Department at Wayne State University. To resume his flying career, he bought a surplus World War II trainer and formed the Wayne School of Aeronautics to teach black veterans to fly. The additional workload caused Neal to drop out of Wayne State. In 1949, he began building a midget racer, "Loving's Love," which he flew the following year. In 1951 he became the first African American double amputee to qualify as a racing pilot.

Resuming his studies, Neal graduated from Wayne State in 1961 and began his aerospace research career at the Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. Neal's research included developing structural criteria for advanced composite materials in support of the supersonic transport and the X-30 Aerospace plane. During his career, Neal received fifty awards, including an Honorary Fellowship in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

He was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 18, 1997 for his long and illustrious career; overcoming odds beyond comprehension; and his major contributions to the African American aviation community and aerospace industry as a whole.

Neal V. Loving (1997)

1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz, USAAF (2010)


1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz was born on November 9, 1915 in Freeland, Michigan. She was the youngest of 10 children and grew up on a farm that became part of the MBS International Airport, formerly known as the Tri-City Airport. She attended Wellman Country School through the eighth grade and Freeland School through the 10th grade. In 1933 she graduated from Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, making her the only one of her siblings to graduate from high school. In 1937 Lutz graduated from Saginaw General Hospital School of Nursing and worked there as a registered nurse until 1942. 

In February 1942, Lutz enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. She was assigned to Selfridge Field near Mt. Clemens, Michigan as a general duty nurse. Only two percent of 59,000 nurses in World War II were qualified flight nurses. In December 1942, she was transferred to the 349th Air Evacuation Camp at Bowman Field in Kentucky, where she was part of a newly established unit conducting specialized flight nurse training. Lutz was re-assigned to the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron two months later. It was the first unit of its kind activated in the Army Air Corps. That same February, she was deployed to North Africa as part of the first dedicated air evacuated unit sent overseas. Lutz began flying combat missions in March 1943 and was promoted to 1st lieutenant, effective December 17, 1943. Between 1943 and 1944, she conducted all-weather medical evacuations in Tunisia, Italy and France. She participated in six separate battle campaigns over a 20-month period.

On November 1, 1944, Lutz was fatally injured in a Medevac C-47 crash near St. Chaumon, France. The Medevac was transporting 15 wounded soldiers from France to Italy. At the time of her death, she was perhaps the most experienced flight nurse in the U.S. Military Service. She had the most evacuation sorties (196), most combat hours flown by any flight nurse (814) and the most patients transported by any flight nurse (3500+). However, her greatest achievement may have simply been in serving others. She was completely selfless and courageous, especially in the face of the ultimate threat-death in combat. As a flight nurse, Lutz flew in unmarked transport planes, which were used to carry supplies to front lines and for patients backing out, making them legal targets for enemy fire. She once made four sorties in one day into the Anzio beachhead.

Lutz received a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, European-African Theatre Ribbon with six Battle Stars (Rome-Arno, Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, S. France, N. Apennines) and a Purple Heart. She was one of the most highly decorated women in the United States Military. Lutz has been honored with an 800-patient hospital ship, the USAHS Aleda E. Lutz, dedicated by General George C. Marshall, and a C-47 cargo plane christened Miss Nightingale III in her honor. Saginaw Veterans Hospital was rededicated as the Aleda E. Lutz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 1990, authorized by President George H. W. Bush. In 1993, Lutz was inducted into the Saginaw (Michigan) Hall of Fame and in 1994, she was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in Lansing, Michigan.


1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz, USAAF (2010)

Ernest W. "Ernie" Lutz (2015)

1921 -

Ernest W. Ernie Lutz was born on September 26th, 1921 in Alma, MI, and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Despite lacking any flight experience, Mr. Lutz passed the Air Force s required testing, and was accepted into pilot training at Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama in 1942. 

Ernie Lutz married Dorothy Zdyb on April 24, 1943 and moved on to advanced flight training in Albany, Georgia, where he qualified on multiengine aircraft. On November 3rd of that year, Mr. Lutz earned his wings and was promoted to second lieutenant. He then traveled to Barksdale Field in Louisiana and met with his five new crew members and their B-26 Marauder medium bomber. Of the six men who met that day, only three would survive the war.

Assigned as a co-pilot to the 397th Bombardment Group, 599th Bomb Squadron, Ernie and his crew flew to Rivenhall Air Field near Essex, England and immediately commenced bombing operations against the Germans in France. Thirty of Mr. Lutz s sixty-five bombing missions over Europe were completed from Rivenhall. On May 29th, 1944, while bombing a railroad bridge near Paris, his aircraft came under heavy fire and pilot Everett Willemsen was wounded by shrapnel. Mr. Lutz immediately took control of the aircraft and kept the damaged B-26 in formation while directing his crew in administering first aid. His quick actions were credited with preserving the lives of his crew and the lives of the men in the aircraft around them. While Lieutenant Lutz was cited to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions, his citation was somehow overlooked. Through the petitioning of family members and Everett Willemsen, the pilot who was wounded that day, Mr. Lutz was finally awarded his medal on November 12th, 2004, over sixty years after the event.

Mr. Lutz went on to fly sixty-five total missions over Europe, including bombing support of the D-Day landings on June 6th, 1944, and survived many close calls at the hands of enemy anti-aircraft gunners and fighter pilots. He completed his overseas service in December of 1944, and returned to the United States. Sadly, three days after his departure from Europe, every aircraft in the 599th was lost during the Battle of the Bulge. After World War II, he joined the Air Force Reserve in Lansing and served another twenty-five years, eventually retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1970. His awards and citations include thirteen Air Medals, four Battle Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor, and the France Service Medal, which was awarded by the French government for his participation in D-Day operations.

In addition to his accomplishments as a military aviator, Ernie Lutz has been active in civilian aviation for most of his adult life. As a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Chapter 55, Mr. Lutz has personally introduced 1500+ young people to flying by providing over 400 free flights to interested youth as part of the EAA s Young Eagles program.


Because of his distinguished service to our country and his dedication to promoting and encouraging the advancement of flight, Mr. Lutz embodies the qualities and virtues extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Ernest W. "Ernie" Lutz (2015)

Richard D. Macon (2008)


Richard D. Macon was born in Birmingham, Alabama on August 21, 1921. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Miles College. 

Always a formidable competitor, on a bet, pursued and passed all entrance exams and requirements for the Army Air Corps. He trained at Tuskegee and completed Pilot Training School as a second lieutenant. He received further training at Selfridge Field in Michigan and from there went on to Walterboro Airfield in South Carolina.

During World War II, he proudly flew missions with the legendary 332 Fighter Group "The Red Tails" in Italy, Romania and the South of France. He had 16 successful missions to his credit. It was there, on August 12, 1944, his plane was shot down. He was a prisoner of war for nine months until April 29, 1945, when he was freed by the Army of George Patton. He was honorably discharged in December 1945, receiving the Purple Heart for his service.

Macon went on to earn flight instructor status and organized a flying school in Birmingham, Alabama. He continued his studies and earned a master's degree in mathematics from Indiana University. Returning to his alma mater, Miles College, he became an associate professor of mathematics.

In 1955, he accepted a teaching assignment in the Detroit Public Schools and became the first African-American to teach math in a Detroit High School. Before retiring on January 1, 1987, after 31 years in Detroit education, he served as department head, high school principal, pioneer computer programmer for assisting in mathematics instruction, monitor for special projects, and personnel administrator.

Macon was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, and was one of the founders of National Tuskegee Airmen Inc. He held memberships in many social and professional groups, but none were dearer to his heart than his beloved Tuskegee Airmen. He traveled the country speaking to young and old telling the story of this dynamic group of unsung heroes. Macon was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008.

Richard D. Macon (2008)

Col. Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin, USAF, Retired (2014)


Col. Walker M. Bud Mahurin was born in Dowagiac, MI, then lived in Ann Arbor until he was adopted by a family from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He studied engineering at Purdue University and became a licensed civilian pilot in 1939. Mahurin enlisted in the Army Air Forces in September, 1941. 

Commissioned 2nd Lt., he was deployed to England and assigned to the 63rd Fighter Squadron, 56th (Wolf Pack) Fighter Group, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. Promoted to Captain and Flight Leader, Mahurin became an ace with five victories in October, 1943, and the first American double ace in the European theater in November, 1943. A triple ace and promoted to Major, he was shot down in March, 1944, but returned to England two months later with the help of the French Resistance.

Mahurin was next sent to the Pacific Theater as Commander of the 3rd Fighter Squadron in the Philippines flying the P-51 Mustang. He ended World War II with 20 victories and had bailed out in both theaters.
During the Korean War, Mahurin flew F-86 Sabres with the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing and was given command of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing. He is credited with 3 MIG 15s destroyed. Mahurin was shot down by ground fire and spent 16 months as a prisoner undergoing psychological and physical torture. He was released three months after the end of the war.
He retired from the Air Force in 1978. Mahurin became a Vice-President of Rockwell International assisting with the Apollo program. Using his experience, he helped establish current Air Force survival courses. Among his many awards are Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (8), Purple Heart, Air Medal (7), Presidential Unit Citation, British Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm. Mahurin died in 2010.

Col. Walker M. “Bud” Mahurin, USAF, Retired (2014)

B.D. and June Maule (1993)

B.D. 1911-1995 | June 1917-2009

Belford D. "B.D." and June Maule began their partnership in marriage in 1934, starting not only a family, but what was to become the world's only family owned aircraft manufacturing business. 

B.D.'s interest in aviation bean while serving in the United States Army's lighter than air division at Langley Field, Virginia. While there, B.D. earned his mechanics license and soon designed and built his own airplane. It was in that small craft, powered by a 27 horsepower Henderson motorcycle engine, that B.D. first tried his hand at flying.

June and B.D. moved to Jackson in the spring of 1940. They produced B.D.'s invention, the initial starter, which they successfully marketed to Piper Aircraft. Other significant contributions to aviation by Maule include the steerable tail wheel and the non-destructive fabric tester. In November 1944 B.D. became the first person in history to successfully fly an ornithopter. This craft, a glider with flapping wings, was of B.D.'s own design.

B.D. and June completed work on the design for which they are most widely known in 1954. In their own shop in Napoleon on their own airport (B.D. Maule Field) the M4 Maule was designed, built, and flown. This design became standard for short field performance aircraft. After several refinements, the distinctive Maule design would remain unmistakable through the entire product line. In 1956, B.D. won the E.A.A. award for aircraft design for the M4.

June Maule not only worked side-by-side with her husband on all of his projects, but somehow managed to raise five children, serve as hostess to the many dignitaries visiting the Maule manufacturing facilities, and serve as administrator and vice-president of purchasing for the company.
Michigan lost a great asset in 1968 when Maule, having outgrown the Napoleon facilities, moved to Moultrie, Georgia. It was there that the Maule's developed a tricycle gear and turbine version of the now famous Maule aircraft.

B.D. and June Maule were enshrined on August 21, 1993. Their joint efforts provided significant contributions to the field of aircraft design and manufacturing.

B.D. died in 1995, and June continued to be president of the B.D. Maule Company, and continued to be involved with the company until her death in 2009.

B.D. and June Maule (1993)

Brig. Gen. James A. McDivitt, USAF, Retired (1989)


Brig. Gen. James A. McDivitt was born June 10, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. As both an astronaut and a program manager for the NASA space program, he was a pioneer in the expansion of the horizons of space.

McDivitt graduated from high school in Kalamazoo and completed two years at Jackson Junior College before joining the Air Force in 1951. He flew 145 jet fighter missions in the Korean War before returning to Michigan to attend the University of Michigan. While an undergraduate there, he achieved a straight-A record to graduate first in his class of 607 engineering students in 1959.

He was then assigned to the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School where he made the best record in the school's history. In 1961, he became the first graduate of the Air Force's Aerospace Research Pilot Course at Edwards Air Force Base. He was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1962. He was the command pilot for Gemini IV, the 66 orbit, 4 day mission in 1965, and commanded the Apollo IX earth orbital flight in 1969.

McDivitt was then the Apollo Spacecraft program manager from 1969 until 1972, with overall management responsibility for Apollo 12 through 16. He retired from the Air Force in 1972 as a brigadier general.

He was executive vice president and director of Consumers Power Co. of Jackson, Michigan before becoming executive vice president and a member of the board of directors of Pullman, Inc. in Chicago. He joined Rockwell International as Vice President of Strategic Management in 1981 and was appointed senior Vice President of Government Operations in January, 1988.

His service decorations include two Distinguished Service medals, four distinguished flying crosses, five air medals, and the Republic of Korea Chung Moo Medal. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate of astronautical science by the University of Michigan, honorary doctor of science degrees by Seton Hall University and Miami University, and an honorary doctor of law degree by Eastern Michigan University.

He was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his dedication to the advancement of space flight.

Brig. Gen. James A. McDivitt, USAF, Retired (1989)

Col. Donald R. McMonagle, USAF, Retired (2004)


Col. Donald R. McMonagle was born in Flint, Michigan on May 14, 1952. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1970 and completed his pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi shortly thereafter. He then flew F-4s out of Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, and served at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico before becoming an F-15 instructor at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. 

Before being selected as an astronaut in 1987, McMonagle was instrumental in developing technology for the F-16 as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In 1981, he was the outstanding graduate in his class at the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards.

From 1982 to 1985, he served as operations officer and a project test pilot for F-16 advanced fighter technology integration. From 1985-1986, after attending the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, he was the operations officer of the 6513th Test Squadron at Edwards.

A veteran of three space shuttle flights totaling 605 hours, Donald R. McMonagle is among Michigan's most experienced astronauts. He was a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery for the eight day STS-39 mission in April of 1991. He piloted the Space Shuttle Endeavor during its six day STS-54 mission in January of 1993. He also commanded the 11 day STS-66 flight of Atlantis in November, 1994.

In addition to participating in these historic shuttle missions, McMonagle has logged more than 6,000 hours flying a variety of aircraft. His primary aircraft were the T-38, F-4, F-15, and F-16.

In 1996, McMonagle was selected to establish a new extra-vehicular activity (EVA) project office. A year later he became manager of launch integration for the Space Shuttle program.

After retiring as a Colonel from the Air Force in June of 1998, he completed his government service with NASA in January of 2000 and went on to work for Pratt & Whitney's Space Propulsion business unit. In 2004 he was its Director of Strategy and Business Development.

Donald R. McMonagle was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2004.

Col. Donald R. McMonagle, USAF, Retired (2004)

Allen H. Meyers (2001)


Allen H. Meyers was born in Allenhurst, New Jersey on September 4, 1908, and went on to become one of Michigan's foremost aircraft designers, builders and manufactures. 

While in high school, Meyers enlisted in the New York National Guard and went for a ride in a military biplane trainer. By the time he graduated, he decided to pursue a career in aviation.

Meyers took a job in 1928 as an apprentice sheet-metal worker for the Chance Vought Corp. in Hartford, Connecticut where he built Corsairs. He soloed at the Curtis Flying School on Long Island in an OX-5 powered "Jenny."

After spending three years barnstorming the country, he settled in Detroit and became a sheet-metal worker with Stinson Aircraft in Wayne.

In 1933, he started building his first airplane in a garage in Wayne with the help of his brother Otto, and his friends Ray Betzoldt and Pard Diver. The finished product was a handsome machine they called OTW (Out to Win). Meyers made the first flight on May 10, 1936 from Wayne County Airport. He received his Approved Type Certificate on February 18, 1941.

In 1939, Meyers bought an old farm in Tecumseh, cleared the land, and built an airport, hanger, and factory. During the early 1940s, the plant turned out OTW bi-planes as fast as possible. When production ended in 1943, exactly 100 OTWs were built. At last count, more than 60 are now flying or being restored.

Meyers also developed and built the ME-165W before Meyers Aircraft Co. signed a contract with Applegate & Weyant Co. in 1947 to manufacture the A & W Dart. A year later, Meyers built the MAC-145 which was an all-metal, enclosed-cabin aircraft described as a most beautiful machine that pilots could easily enjoy. It was the ultimate airplane that was built by Meyers after a history of building airplanes in Michigan. The Tecumseh airport has been designated the Meyers-Diver Airport to honor he and his old partner.
Meyers passed away on March 15, 1976 at the age of 68.

Allen H. Meyers was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001.

Allen H. Meyers (2001)

James L. "Jim" Mynning (2011)


Capt. James L. "Jim" Mynning was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930 and has been a lifelong Michigan resident. As a teenager, he would purchase production aircraft, land in an open field next to his parents' home, disassemble the aircraft and then modify it for an air show look and performance. 

Mynning first soloed on July 16, 1946 in an Aeronca 7AC Champion, and would go on to play an important role in developing the air show circuit in the 1950s. During that time, he provided narration for fellow performers and then became a full-time announcer at major and minor air shows in North America, serving as master of ceremonies for the entire event.

In addition to announcing, Mynning performed numerous renowned air show acts. As demand for lying acts grew, he found himself sought after as an airshow pilot. He developed five unique acts, performed using a Piper J-3 or Piper Super Cub. One of his acts included a car to plane transfer, where he would fly in close and pluck a stunt man from the hood of a speeding car via a rope ladder. During another act, Mynning would attempt to land his Cub on a platform built atop a pickup truck, sometimes known as "The World's Smallest Airport." His attempts were-almost always-successful.

From 1955 until 1990, Mynning was an airline pilot and captain with Capital Airlines. In 1960 Capital Airlines merged with United Airlines, and in 1974 Mynning was named United Airlines Pilot of the Year for safely landing a 737 with a dangling engine without injury to passengers or crew. He beat out 5,000 other United Airlines pilots.

Mynning was also the co-owner of three airports in Michigan-Young Field in Ann Arbor, a farm airfield in Chelsea, and Meyers-Diver's Airport in Tecumseh. All three airports were the home of members of an airshow group known as the Ann Arbor Air Force. In addition to being the headquarters to the renowned members of the group, the airports were also the sites of many air shows.

In 2003 Mynning was inducted into the International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame. He logged more than 35,000 hours of flying experience and served as chairman of air show operations at Experimental Aircraft Association's annual convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the world's largest aviation celebration. He was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011, and passed away February 4, 2018.


James L. "Jim" Mynning (2011)

Wilbur C. Nelson (1998)


Wilbur Nelson was born May 9, 1913 in Flint, Michigan. He received a Bachelors of Science in Engineering degree in 1935 and a Masters in Science and Engineering degree in 1937 from the University of Michigan. His career spanned over 43 years, during which his genius and vision influenced development from the aeronautical to Astronautical periods of American history. In 1936 he worked as an engineer at Lockheed Corporation in California. He served on the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington from 1937 to 1939. Wilbur was a project engineer for Engineering at Iowa State College from 1940 to 1942 and was department head and professor from 1942 until 1946. He also served at John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab as a supervisor in 1945. 

Wilbur returned to the University of Michigan in 1946 as a Professor of Aeronautical Engineering. He became Chairman of the Aerospace Engineering Department in 1953, a position he held until 1968. During this time, he was involved in a myriad of aeronautical and Astronautical activities, most notably a member of the NATO Science Advisor Group for Aeronautical Research and Development from 1953 to 1969.

Six Apollo astronauts were graduates of Professor Nelson's department. In 1965, the first Michigan space crew, space craft Commander Jim McDivitt and Edwin White, the first space walker, returned to the U of M campus. It was also an all-Michigan crew to go to the moon in Apollo 15 and later Jack Lousma, who carried the Michigan banner in the Skylab and Shuttle missions.

Nelson's work in guided missiles and astronautics began in World War II. He was in charge of the first U.S. anti-missile defense program and advised major aircraft companies on new design developments. He received a patent for wingtip vortex spill design used on all aircraft today. A prolific writer, Nelson contributed hundreds of articles to science journals over the span of his career. Professor Nelson passed away on May 10, 1987 at the age of 74.

Wilbur Nelson, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering, was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 10, 1998 for his 40 years of dedicated work in aeronautical and aerospace engineering.


Wilbur C. Nelson (1998)

Dennis E. Norton (2018)


Dennis Norton was born in East Lansing, Michigan, on May 25, 1947. His family moved to Ypsilanti in 1949. He was a frequent visitor to Willow Run Airport with his father, who learned to fly in the U.S. Navy. Dennis first flight in the mid-1950s was at Willow Run in a Cessna 170. 

Norton graduated from Ypsilanti High School in 1965. He attended Eastern Michigan University, where he was a founder of the Eastern Michigan University Flying Club. In 1967, he earned his private pilot s license. He continued flying at Willow Run while at Eastern Michigan, earning his instrument rating, his commercial pilot license, and his Instructor and Instrument Instructor ratings. All his students passed their FAA Practical Flight Tests on their first try.

While running Norton s Florist and Greenhouses, a successful, multi-store operation, he continued flying. Norton strongly believed that aviation and the Willow Run Airport were critical to the economic vitality of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti region. Passenger service at Willow Run, then owned by the University of Michigan, had ended in 1966. When he was only two years into his business career, Norton was selected to join a task force of local business leaders planning the future of Willow Run. The group s most important idea was to find a more appropriate owner for the airport. In a few years, ownership of the airport was transferred to the Wayne County Road Commission. Willow Run soon became a major freight hub, with a positive economic impact on the region.

In 1980, Norton and two friends began mustering support for Norton's idea of establishing an air museum at Willow Run. With the full support of key officials at Selfridge Air Force Base, the Yankee Air Force, later known as the Yankee Air Museum, was formed in the fall of 1981. Norton served as first president of the museum, which researches, preserves, and tells the story of the Arsenal of Democracy war effort at the airfield during World War II. He also negotiated the acquisition of a hangar as well as a C-47, the Yankee Lady, B-17, and a B-52D Stratofortress. The Stampe SV.4C, a French biplane Norton imported and flew at air shows and airport fly-ins in the late 1970s, was also pressed into service to promote the museum.

Tragically, the Yankee Air Museum was destroyed by fire in 2004. Norton s leadership in planning and fundraising resulted in arrangements to move the museum into the last remaining piece of the Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant which, by 2020, will be renamed the National Museum of Aviation and Technology at Historic Willow Run.

Dennis E. Norton was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 21, 2018, for his many years of dedication making Willow Run Airport and the Yankee Air Museum important parts of aviation and aviation history in Michigan.


Dennis E. Norton (2018)

Theodore Operhall (1994)


Theodore Operhall was born April 13, 1918 in Detroit, Michigan. His life's work devoted to metallurgy, he became an internationally known authority on advanced technologies employed in the manufacturing of gas turbine engine components. 

Entry in the investment casting business came in 1942 with employment at the Ford Motor Company's Ceramic and Metallurgical Laboratory on a project for casting supercharger buckets for engines on the B-24 bomber.
Joining Bendix Aviation Corporation's Research Laboratories, he managed the program for development of an improved investment casting process. Early engines supplied with cast components included Pratt & Whitney Aircraft's PT2 and the Curtiss Wright R3350 turbo compound piston engine.

In 1948 Operhall joined Michigan Steel Castings Company in Detroit as a project engineer. Transition from industrial hardware was completed with the establishment of "Misco's" aircraft product line in Whitehall, Michigan.
Operhall became president of the company in 1953. Through acquisition and reorganization came a new name, Howmet Corporation. Named corporate vice president of Howmet Corporation in 1965, he was elected a director of that company in 1970 and became president of its Gas Turbine Components Group in 1973. In 1976 this operating function achieved corporate status as Howmet Turbine Components Corporation, with Operhall as chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer.

Operhall held jointly a number of patents relating to the casting process. One of the most significant related to the "monoshell" casting process, changing the entire mold making method, resulting in the ability to produce complex components at dramatically improved yields. Utilized today by all companies engaged in the casting business, this technology was a major turning point for Howmet, which became the world's largest producer of investment cast gas turbine components under Operhall's direction.

In recognition of his contributions to the industry, he has received the Distinguished Life Service Award from the American Society of Metals, the Insignia of Chevelier of France's Legion of Honor, and the Life Service Award from the Investment Casting Institute.

Operhall was enshrined on October 22, 1994 for the use of his engineering and management skills in advancing the gas turbine engine in the aeronautics industry.

Theodore Operhall (1994)

Maj. Gen. Don R. Ostrander, USAF, Retired (2018)


Major General Don Richard Ostrander was born September 24, 1914, in Stockbridge, Michigan. He was valedictorian of the Stockbridge High School class of 1931. He studied engineering at Western State College  (now Western Michigan University) before he was appointed to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1937, a member of the Academy's last cavalry class. 

After graduating, he entered flight school at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he also served as a cavalry troop commander until 1939. Ostrander then served in Aviation Ordnance Command positions at various air fields, including Selfridge Air Force Base.

In May 1942, Ostrander was assigned to the 8th Air Force Interceptor Command, England, as ordnance and armament officer. He helped modify the P-38 Lightning to include a Norden bomb sight and bombardier, the so-called P-38 Droop Snoot. He flew as bombardier in the first test flights.

In 1944, Ostrander returned to the U.S., where he served as Director of Material and Service at Army Air Force Tactical Command, Orlando, Florida. He attended the Command and Staff School in 1946 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1947. Following four years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, he assumed command positions with the 6540th Missile Test Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. After the base was designated the Holloman Air Development Center, he was promoted to Brigadier General and became commander of the Center.

He was promoted to Major General in 1958 and served with NATO International Staff in Paris. He returned to the U.S. as deputy director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon. From 1959 until 1961, General Ostrander served as director of the Office of Launch Vehicles for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and, working alongside German aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, was responsible for the development of early space launch vehicles, including the Saturn I rocket. He left NASA in 1961 and assumed command of the Office of Aerospace Research, where he managed the research programs of the U.S. Air Force. He retired in 1965 as vice commander of the Ballistic Systems Division. He died in 1972 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery. His decorations included the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters.

Major General Don R. Ostrander was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 21, 2018, for his many and varied contributions to the advancement of aviation and space exploration.

Maj. Gen. Don R. Ostrander, USAF, Retired (2018)

Frank A. Overcashier (2005)


Frank A. Overcashier was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1887 and was educated in the Pittsburgh public school system. While in high school, an ambition Overcashier served apprenticeships as a machinist and in machine erecting and tool making. At age 18, he attended Carnegie Technical School for seven years and became an engineer. 

In 1914, Overcashier started a trucking business. He operated a cartage and moving business for 10 years. During that time, Frank built and flew his first airplane. In 1920, he established the first commercial flying field in Michigan near Grand River Avenue in Detroit.

While in Detroit between 1929 and 1929, the Frank Overcashier Aviation School trained students to become mechanics, pilots, parachute jumpers and airplane welders. His was also one of the first aviation schools to teach women to become pilots.

Overcashier and his pilots were the first licensed pilots in the United States. His transport license number issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce was "1-1-1-1." In 1925, at the Ford Airport, Overcashier received 12 awards in flying skill contests, of which seven were first place honors.
During the same year, Frank established a "Flying Circus," which barnstormed the state as a successful operation for several years. He carried over 16,000 passengers without injury and logged 2,800 hours of personal flying time.

In the early 1920s, Frank established the Overcashier Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Detroit, Michigan. This was the first aircraft manufacturing business registered in the state of Michigan. Overcashier three-place monoplanes were exhibited at the All-American Aircraft Show at Convention Hall in 1927 and 1928.

Overcashier was a long-time member of the Detroit Flying Club along with such other notable members as Eddie Stinson, Eddie Rickenbacker and Jimmy Doolittle. He has been featured in the "Who's Who in American Aeronautics" and "Jane's World Aircraft" publications.

After an illustrious and pioneering aeronautical career, Frank A. Overcashier died in 1948. He was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 8, 2005.


Frank A. Overcashier (2005)

Ray H. Owen (2022)

Ray was born December 1, 1921, in Paris, Illinois. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan where he attended Cass Technical High School. Ray Owen enlisted in the Naval Air Corps on August 3, 1942. He began ground school in Asheville, North Carolina, flying Piper Cubs, and trained in the Boeing Stearman in Olathe, Kansas in June 1943. Later that summer, he transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas, and flew Vultee SNVs and SNJ Texans. In January, he was sent to the Naval Air Station in Miami, Florida, for fighter training in an SBD Dauntless. When he went to Glenview, Illinois, in March of 1944, he successfully landed the SBD on the USS Sable in Lake Michigan and received carrier qualification. He was then assigned to Pearl Harbor to receive further training in the F6F Hellcat as part of Air Group 81.

From November 1944 to February 1945, Owen was involved in major strikes in China, Japan, and the Philippines aboard the USS Wasp. One flight saw the wings of Owen’s F6F riddled with bullets, but he managed to fly the 100 miles back to the ship, compensating for the sustained damage. He served out the remainder of the war stationed on the East Coast and separated from the Naval Air Corps in November 1945 as a Lieutenant. He earned the Philippine Liberation Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and Air Medal. Owen worked as an electrician for the next 45 years, and regularly talks to young people in Detroit, Northville, and Midland about his experiences.

Ray Owen

Col. Preston S. "Pete" Parish, USMC, Retired (2012)


Col. Preston S. "Pete" Parish was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1919. He graduated from Williams College in 1941 and immediately reported to Officer Candidate School, U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Upon completion of OCS in October, 1941, he was commissioned second lieutenant. In February, 1942, having completed Reserve Officer School, he was assigned to the First Marine Division at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and assumed command of a machine gun platoon in the Fifth Regiment's heavy weapons company. 

In May, 1942 Parish shipped overseas with the Seventh Regiment to British Samoa en route to Guadalcanal, New Britain and Peleliu. He was awarded the Bronze Star with the citation: "For heroic and meritorious achievement in action against enemy forces while serving as company commander in a Marine infantry battalion on PELEIU ISLAND, PALAU GROUP. Captain Parish's unusual skill in combat, his leadership, personal courage, and initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

After returning to the United States in November, 1944, Parish applied and was accepted for Naval Flight Training. He was just eight flights short of completing training when the war ended and he returned to civilian life without being awarded his wings. In honor of his many years of support for Naval Aviation, the Navy awarded him Naval Aviator Wings in 1984, giving him the distinction of being the student Naval Aviator who took the longest to get his wings-40 years. Parish retired from active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps as major and ultimately retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as colonel.

Following the war, Parish had a distinguished business career, ultimately serving as vice chairman of the Board of the Upjohn Company where he helped establish the Aviation Department and select the company's first airplane-a Lockheed Learstar. In 1972, Parish became a principle owner of Kal-Aero, a small fixed-base operation at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, which grew to 350 employees in two locations in Southwest Michigan. Kal-Aero was sold to Duncan Aviation in 1998.

In 1977, Parish co-founded the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, now known as the Air Zoo, with seven aircraft and a limited number of artifacts. Since then, it has continued to expand with more than 50 rare and historic aircraft, rides, attractions, exhibits and educational programming.
Parish has served as the president of Warbirds of America, trustee of the EAA Foundation and treasurer and chairman of the National Business Aviation Association. In 1996, he received the Jack Driscoll Award, which is given to an individual who has devoted a significant amount of time and effort on behalf of the business aviation community.

Parish holds commercial, instrument, and airline transport ratings with type ratings in the Ford Tri-Motor, DC-3 and three different models of Cessna Citation jets. He holds an FAA Letter of Authorization to fly all types of high-performance piston engine aircraft and low level Aerobatic Performance Authorization for warbirds. Among other aircraft, he has flown the Wildcat, Hellcat, Mustang, Corsair, Tigercat, Bearcat, Thunderbolt, Texan, Stearman, Airacobra, Warhawk and Grasshopper. In total, Parish has 9,500 hours of pilot time.

Col. Preston S. Parish was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.

Col. Preston S. "Pete" Parish, USMC, Retired (2012)

Philip O. Parmelee (2016)

1887 - 1912

Philip Orin Parmelee was born in Clinton County, Michigan, on March 8th, 1887, and showed a mechanical aptitude for small engines from an early age. In his teen years, he built a variety of gas and electric motors and received early notoriety for building a steam-powered automobile of his own design, which he drove, at speed, through the streets of his hometown. As a young man, he worked for several local machine and motor companies and was eventually hired by the Buick Automobile Company in Flint, MI. While working for Buick, Parmelee became fascinated by the sleek racing cars of Louis Chevrolet. When one of the vehicles arrived at the plant for repairs, Parmelee is reputed to have taken it on an unauthorized, high-speed night drive to Flushing, a 19- mile round trip. The speed and risk of racing appealed to Philip, and his mechanical aptitude earned him a place as head mechanic for a car which would eventually win the Glidden tour, a grueling annual road race from New York to various locations in the South.

While on a promotional road tour for Buick, Parmelee visited Orville and Wilbur Wright at the Wright Flying School in Montgomery, AL, where he was bitten by the flying bug. Like auto racing, the challenge and risk of early flight excited him, and Philip applied to the school soon after his visit and was accepted in 1910. He excelled as an aviator, earning the nickname Skyman , and upon completion of his flight training was asked to join the seven-member

Wright Exhibition Team as a demonstration pilot. He and the team spent a year touring the country in the Wright B Flyer and participating in air shows, competitions, and demonstrations. Stopping in large cities and small towns alike, this tour served as the first exposure to the miracle of flight for tens of thousands of Americans and inspired countless individuals to pursue their own dreams of flying. A true pioneer, Philip Parmelee achieved numerous world records and aviation firsts, sometimes on the same flight, between 1910 and 1912. The first of these occasions occurred on November 7, 1910, when Philip was contacted by a department store owner desperate to receive 100 pounds of silk for a
store's grand opening the next day. Parmelee strapped the bolts of fabric onto to his Wright B, and completed the overland 65 mile journey from Dayton to Columbus, OH, in 57minutes. This trip marked the first time commercial cargo was transported by air, and also set a new world speed record. In the spring of 1911, Parmelee, together with Lt. Benjamin Foulois, flew the Wright Flyer on the first-ever military aerial reconnaissance mission along the Mexican border. That same year, Parmelee piloted the aircraft Grant Morton jumped from to become the first man to parachute from an airplane. Parmelee also piloted the first aircraft to drop a bomb, the first aircraft to receive radio messages, the first aircraft from which photos were taken, and he held the world flying endurance record. He accomplished all of these feats in just over two years. Sadly, on June 1, 1912, he was piloting an aircraft at an air show in Yakima, Washington when a rogue gust of wind slammed his aircraft into the ground, killing
him instantly. He is buried in East Plains Cemetery in Clinton County, Michigan, and a historic marker to Parmelee is displayed at the Lansing Capital Region International Airport.

For his pioneering spirit and substantial contributions to aviation, Philip O. Parmelee embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Prof. Felix W. Pawlowski (1997)


Prof. Felix W. Pawlowski was born in Warsaw, Poland on July 23, 1876. Tutoring from his mother laid the foundation for his life and education, which started with prep school in Poland, and then the Technical College of Mittiveide, Saxony, where he received a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering in 1897. 

He worked as a designer and engineer in Poland until 1908 when he enrolled in the University of Paris to study aeronautics under Professor Louis Marchis. In 1910, Felix received the Certificate d'Etude from the University of Paris, France.

During the period of 1910 to 1912, Felix moved to the United States, built his first monoplane powered by a 3 cylinder, 27hp Angamii engine, and was employed as an automotive designer. Although he wanted to teach aeronautical engineering full time, Felix accepted a position as an instructor in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in 1912. In 1914, he received his Master's of Science in Engineering degree.

The courses taught by Professor Pawlowski proved to be extremely popular. By the 1916-1917 school year, the first complete four year program leading to a Bachelor Degree in Aeronautical Engineering was offered at the University of Michigan. During World War I, Professor Pawlowski was drafted to assist the military in aircraft design. Returning to the University of Michigan in 1917, he established a program for students drafted for military service to be qualified for preference into the Air Service. He was promoted to Associate Professor Aeronautics.

In 1929, with the completion of the wind tunnel in the East Engineering Building, Felix was appointed to the Guggenheim Professorship. Professor Pawlowski began emphasizing research such as the use of magnesium in aircraft structures and the use of the wind tunnel to test models for many aircraft manufacturers.

Felix became Professor Emeritus and a consultant at Douglas Aircraft Company in 1946. He died in 1951 in Pau, France.

Professor Felix Pawlowski was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation hall of Fame on October 18, 1997 for his long and dedicated career as an aviation education pioneer and a founder for the first U.S. aerospace education school-the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.

Prof. Felix W. Pawlowski (1997)

Lt. Cdr. Jean Hanmer Pearson, USN, Retired (2005)


Lt. Cdr. Jean Hanmer Pearson was born on February 7, 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. She received her pilot's license in 1941 and graduated from the Women's Airforce Service Pilot training in Texas in 1943. During World War II, she served as a WASP assigned to the second ferrying division of the Air Transport Command at Wilmington, Delaware. She was later sent on temporary additional duty to Camp Davis at Wilmington, North Carolina for tow target flying. The targets were to train Army anti-aircraft artillery men.
Later, after being commissioned in the U.S. Navy, she served as an aviation officer for the deputy chief of naval operations in Washington, D.C. She remained in the Naval Reserves following the war, retiring as a lieutenant commander in 1975.  

Pearson's interest in civil aviation was as great as her commitment to military aviation. She flew in 10 All-Women Transcontinental Air Races with Alice Hammond, owned her own Cessna 172 from 1961-2005, was vice chairman of the Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Zoning Board of Appeals and was in the Civil Air Patrol in 1942 as an operations officer for an all-women's squadron before leaving for WASP training in Texas. She was a trustee of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and also served on the board of directors of the Michigan Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club (an organization of those who have crossed all longitudes in the round the world flight) and the Travelers Aid Society of Detroit.

Her career as a journalist spanned over 30 years at The Detroit News and won her numerous national and local awards including the Aviation/Space Writers Association's Strebig Memorial Award for outstanding aviation writing in 1968 for her "Man in Space" series. She covered the U.S. space program from its earliest days through the Apollo 11 moon landing.
In 1961, Pearson was the first newspaperwoman in the United States to break the sound barrier in an F-106 delta-wing supersonic fighter interceptor at Selfridge Air Force Base. She has also flown in and reported on many different aircraft, ranging from the F-89 Scorpion to the Goodyear blimp.

A past president of the National Science Writers Association, Pearson accompanied four women scientists to Antarctica in 1969 where they were the first women to reach the South Pole. Her series on the Antarctic expedition led to the Women in Communications naming her a National Headliner winner in 1970. On a later pioneering flight by Scandinavian Air Systems, she flew directly over the North Pole on a flight from Tokyo to Copenhagen.

Pearson earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Michigan, a bachelor's degree in English, a master's degree in audio-visual education and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Wayne State University.

Jean Pearson was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2005. She passed away January 11, 2010.


Lt. Cdr. Jean Hanmer Pearson, USN, Retired (2005)

Ann Holtgren Pellegreno (1991)


Ann Holtgren Pellegreno was born on April 10, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, to Aba Dearing Holtgren and Clifford C. Holtgren. Ann and her younger sister, Lois, shared many interests such as music, sports, and, of course, flying.  In 1960, Pellegreno took her first instruction in an Aeronca Champ at Young Field near Ann Arbor, Michigan and received a private license in 1961. By 1966, she had gained additional licenses and ratings and was teaching flying and ground school at Gordon Aviation in Ann Arbor. She wrote her own teaching materials based on flying in the local area.

On June 7, 1967, Ann took off from Ypsilanti, Michigan in a twin-engine Lockheed 10, a sistership to Amelia Earhart's, to retrace Earhart's flight path. Others on the flight were Lee Koepke, who had restored the aircraft, and Bill Polhemus, navigator. Bill Payne acted as co-pilot, sharing the flying because there was no autopilot. They arrived over Howland Island on the morning of July 2, 1967, 30 years after Amelia was scheduled to have been there, then continued on, arriving back at Willow Run Airport on July 10, 1967. Pellegreno has shared this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with others at lectures and through books and articles. Her book, World Flight: The Earhart Trail, was published by Iowa State University Press in 1971.

In 1972 Pellegreno began writing Iowa Takes To The Air, a trilogy that begins in 1854. In 1974 she became the first woman to be appointed to the Iowa Aeronautics Commission, serving until 1975. In 1974 she was also appointed a commissioner for the new Iowa Department of Transportation, the first woman in Iowa and the nation to serve in that capacity.

She and her husband, Don, are long-time members of the Antique Aircraft Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association. They have built a Smith Miniplane, and have restored an Aeronca C-3, an Aeronca Chief, a Piper Cub, and the only Fairchild XNQ-1.]

Pellegreno was enshrined on October 26, 1991, for continuously striving to introduce others into aviation through teaching, lecturing, and her books. The 1967 Earhart Commemorative Flight truly represented the spirit of aviation.

Ann Holtgren Pellegreno (1991)

Gen. John L. "Pete" Piotrowski, USAF, Retired (2017)


General John Louis "Pete" Piotrowski is a retired United States Air Force four-star general who worked his way up from enlisted rank to eventually serve as Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force (VCSAF), from 1985 to 1987; and Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command/ Commander in Chief, U.S. Space Command, from 1987 to 1990. 

General John L. "Pete" Piotrowski was born in Detroit in 1934 and graduated from Henry Ford Trade School, Dearborn, MI, in 1951. Enlisting in the U.S. Air Force as an Airman Basic at age eighteen in1952, he completed basic training and was assigned to Keesler Air Force Base (AFB), MS, as a student in basic electronics and ground radar. In 1953, Piotrowski transferred to Harlingen Air Force Base in Texas for navigator and observer training, where he graduated with distinction.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in 1954, he returned to Keesler AFB for advanced training in electronic countermeasures, and was eventually assigned to the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in South Korea and Japan as an electronic warfare officer and RB-26 navigator. Following his tour in Japan he entered pilot training, and graduated first in his class. After graduation, he was assigned as armament and electronics maintenance officer at Williams and, later, at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

In 1961, Piotrowski joined the initial cadre of Project Jungle Jim (which later became the 1st Air Commando Wing). Deployed to Southeast Asia, he spent two tours flying clandestine missions over Vietnam, and was later inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame.

As Chief of Academics at the prestigious Air Force Fighter Weapons School, he led the combat introduction of the Walleye glide bomb - the Air Force's first "fire and forget" guided weapon, and personally introduced and deployed the new weapon in Southeast Asia. He became Director of Operations for a nuclear strike wing in Germany, followed by assignment as Commander of the 40th Tactical Group in Italy. Under his leadership, the 40th was named "Best Wing in the USAF", and as first wing commander for the E-3 radar plane, he brought the unit to full combat status and received the Eugene M. Zuckert Management Award for 1979. Eventually assigned to Tactical Air Command he served as Deputy Commander for Air Defense, Director of Operations, and Vice Commander. Recognized for his continued success, he was then promoted to Commander, Ninth Air Force, where he personally oversaw a dozen bases and 600 aircraft. He was promoted to 4-Star General in 1985 - one of only 13 in the USAF - with the special distinction of having worked his way up from the rank of Airman Basic. As Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, he managed 600,000 personnel, 7,000 aircraft, and a $100 billion budget, and advised the Joint Chief s of Staff and the President on key issues and decisions. General Piotrowski concluded his career as Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Space Command, responsible for defending both America and Canada. In addition to extensive military-focused education, he earned a BS degree from the University of Nebraska and did postgraduate work at the University of Southern California and Auburn (AL) University, and attended a management development program at Harvard University. He logged 7,500 hours in 35 different aircraft and flew 100+ combat missions. General Piotrowski retired in 1990 after 37 years of service, including eight commands and 15 years as a general officer - one of the most accomplished and most respected airmen of our time.

For his substantial service to our country and dedication to the advancement of aviation, General John L. Piotrowski extols the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.


Gen. John L. "Pete" Piotrowski, USAF, Retired (2017)

Col. Edwin G. Pipp, USAF, Retired (1993)


Col. Edwin G. Pipp was born May 8, 1919 in Detroit, Michigan. He has served as a test pilot and chronicler of the nation's aerospace program. 

Pipp joined the Michigan National Guard in 1940 as a private, attending military flight schools in 1942. During World War II he served five years in the Army Air Corps, flying 10 combat missions as a B-17 pilot. His plane was shot down on his tenth mission and he spent over two years as a German prisoner of war. He continued his flying career through the Michigan Air National Guard where he served as an officer from 1946 until 1974.

Pipp retired from military service as a colonel in 1974 having flown 26 different military aircraft over the course of his career. His military awards include: Purple Heart, Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster, American Defense Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, European-African-Middle East Theater Ribbon with one bronze star, and four overseas service bars. He was also the recipient of the first Hoyt S. Vandenberg Achievement Award given by the Air Force.

Having begun a career as a copy boy for the Detroit News' editorial department prior to his World War II military service, he resumed responsibilities there and began covering the aviation industry. In 1952 he became the paper's aerospace writer. Pipp served as the Korean and Vietnam War correspondent and covered all manned orbital space missions at Cape Kennedy and Houston from the John Glenn flight through the first space shuttle mission. With assignments to all parts of the United States, Europe, and the Far East, Pipp covered most major aerospace events occurring from 1961 to 1981 when he retired.

Pipp was president of the Aviation/Space Writers Association (AWA) in 1958 and 1959. He was voted a life member in 1979 for "lasting devotion to veracity and accuracy in writing." He also received AWA awards for aerospace writing in 1962, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1981. He received a special award from the Flight Safety Foundation in 1960 and the Michigan United Press International Award for feature writing in 1974. He was the recipient of Michigan Associated Press Newswriting Awards in 1966, 1973, and 1975.

Pipp was enshrined on August 21, 1993 for combining his civilian and military careers to rise to the top of his profession, delivering accurate scientific information and enhancing the public's knowledge of aviation. He passed away June 19, 2001.

Col. Edwin G. Pipp, USAF, Retired (1993)

Kenneth L. Porter (2009)


Kenneth Lee Porter, was born in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1896. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he enlisted in the Army in May, 1917 and completed his training at the University of Illinois that same October. From there, Porter was selected to attend flying training with the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, where he earned his Military Aviator rating. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Service and assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron in January, 1918. 

Flying the Nieuport 28, Porter scored his first victory on July 2, 1918. That August, the 147th Aero Squadron was re-equipped with the SPAD XIII, and it was in that plane that he scored four more victories, successfully making him an "Ace" on October 12, 1918. Two days before his final victory, Porter became the commander of C Flight. He was also credited with three unconfirmed victories and survived being shot down and crash-landing three separate times.

Porter has been granted the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and the Croix de Guerre for his skill and bravery in both air-to-ground attacks and air-to-air, or "dog," fighting.

After World War I, Porter resumed his career in engineering and worked for Boeing during World War II. While at Boeing he helped develop the hydraulic system for the Martin B-26 Marauder. Porter was also a member of the United States Fighting Pilots Association. He died on February 3, 1988 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery as one of the last surviving Aces of World War I.

Kenneth Lee Porter was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 18, 2009 for his lifelong dedication to aviation both militarily and commercially.


Kenneth L. Porter (2009)

CW4 Robert 'Bob' Potvin (2022)

Robert Floyd “Bob” Potvin was born in Detroit on May 31, 1947 and graduated from Detroit Benedictine High School in 1965. After attending Michigan State University, Bob entered the United States Army, and completed Basic Training. He volunteered for Warrant Officer Flight Training, was accepted, and trained as an Army Helicopter Pilot. Upon graduation from flight school, Bob was assigned to Vietnam, as an Air Cavalry Scout Helicopter Pilot, in the First Cavalry Division. For his bravery in combat, Bob was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Purple Heart.

After returning from Vietnam, Bob continued to serve in the Army as an Instructor Pilot in AH-1 Cobra Gunships. Bob left the Army and again attended Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in Criminal Justice in 1973. Bob joined the Michigan Army National Guard, where he again served as a Scout Helicopter Pilot in an Air Cavalry Unit. In that capacity Bob was directly involved in the training and standardization of scores for other helicopter pilots, and in their acquisition of Air Cavalry and Attack Helicopter tactics, techniques, and procedures. Many of the pilots Bob helped train subsequently deployed overseas to fly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4) Robert “Bob” Potvin passed away on May 5, 2019.


bob potvin

William Sr. Powell Lear (1993)


William P. Lear Sr. was born June 26, 1902 in Hannibal, Missouri. His love of aviation was born at Grant Park in Chicago where he volunteered as a "grease monkey" on the early mail planes. Dropping out of high school, he focused his energies on studying radios and by 1922, after serving in the U.S. Navy, he was in business for himself. He developed a "B" battery eliminator, created an advanced sound system, and introduced the automobile radio. In 1931 he purchased a bi-plane, learned to fly, and, observing the limitations of existing systems, became devoted to developing a radio guidance system for airplanes. 

Lear applied his knowledge of electronics to aviation, designing and producing radio-operated direction finders and navigation systems, electronics, automatic controls, and fluid handling devices. Presiding as chairman of the board at Lear, Inc. from 1949 until 1962, Lear moved to Grand Rapids when the wartime demand for his direction finders, actuators and other components outpaced the capacity of his Piqua, Ohio plant. It was Grand Rapids where Lear developed and tested the F-5 autopilot, and it was for this contribution that Lear won the prestigious Collier Trophy in 1949.

In the late 1950s the design of the Lear Jet, a radical new jet-powered business aircraft, was born. Making its maiden flight in 1963, the Lear Jet completed a flight around the world in 1966, setting 19 records. Forming Lear Avia to develop jet aircraft, he initiated the design of the "Lear Fan," a revolutionary all-composites pusher passenger airplane.

Honors bestowed on Lear have included the Horatio Alger Award in 1956; the Golden Plate Award, Cresson Medal, and "Spirit of St. Louis" Award in 1972; and the Golden Omega Award in 1977. With more than 150 patents to his credit, Lear died in 1978 at the age of 75.

He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 22, 1978 and the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on August 21, 1993 for his exceptional contribution to aviation through his entrepreneurship and development of radio-operated navigational systems and business jet aircraft. Noted for his love of a challenge and inventing genius, Lear did more for pilot safety than any other man of his era.

William Powell Lear Sr. (1993)

Harriet Quimby (1993)


Harriet Quimby was born May 11, 1875 in Arcadia, Michigan. She was noted for her daring, courageous spirit and is a true pioneer of women in aviation. 

Having already achieved fame as one of the first woman reporters on a major newspaper-The San Francisco Call-in 1901, and writing for such publications as The Dramatic Review, Overland Monthly, Good Housekeeping, it was in her position as drama critic for Leslie's Weekly that her attention turned toward aviation. On October 22, 1910 she attended the International Aviation Meet at Belmont Park, New York. Later, while making her rounds with the theater crowd, she met the winner of the meet's main event and asked him to teach her to fly.

Quimby earned her pilot's license-Federation Aeronautique Internationale No. 37-from the Aero Club of America on August 1, 1911. She was the first woman in the United States and the second in the world to be licensed.

On March 7, 1912 she set sail for France, planning to be the first woman to fly over the English Channel. Her accomplishment of this feat on Tuesday, April 16, 1912 did not receive worldwide headlines, as it was overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic the day before her flight.

Quimby was also the first woman pilot to write about aviation. Her articles included a series about how she learned to fly, the dangers of flying, and how to avoid them. She also included a detailed account of her Channel flight.

On July 1, 1912, Harriet Quimby died while preparing for an aviation meet. She was the first woman to be killed at an aviation meet and the fourth woman in the world to lose her life in an airplane.

Harriet has been honored by the placing of a State Historical Marker at the Branch County Airport, and on April 27, 1991, a Harriet Quimby fifty-cent airmail stamp was issued.

Harriet Quimby was enshrined on August 21, 1993 for her pioneering spirit and for courageously opening the door for the great women pilots who followed.

Harriet Quimby (1993)

James D. "Jay" Ramsey (2017)


James D. "Jay" Ramsey was director of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission for 22 years prior to his retirement on April 27, 1979.
Under Ramsey s 22 years of leadership, aviation in Michigan grew from 130 licensed airports and four licensed seaplane bases to 322 licensed airports, four seaplane bases, and four heliports. The number of registered aircraft grew from 2,564 to 6,513, and registered pilots from 2,000 17,000. His successful leadership was well-known and highly recognized throughout the country.  Born in Des Moines, IA in 1916, Ramsey held a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska and focused on aeronautical engineering in his post-graduate studies. He received his pilot license in 1938, and eventually held Commercial, Instructor, Instrument, Single, and Multi Engine Land ratings. He logged more than 14,000 hours of flying time. He was a flight instructor from 1941 to 1943, and in 1943 served as chief pilot and assistant airport manager in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Ramsey joined the United States Air Force in 1944, and ferried aircraft within the United States and Alaska before he was assigned to the Air Transport Command, and later to Combat Cargo, in the China-Burma- India theater. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and three battle stars. In the Korean War, he was appointed to Task Force C of the National Security Resources Board, and assisted in drafting plans for the use of non-scheduled aircraft carriers.

In 1946 he was general manager of the Lincoln Aviation Institute, and from 1947 to 1956 served as the director of the Nebraska Aeronautics Commission. Ramsey came to Michigan in 1956 to serve as regional administrator of the Federal Civil Defense Administration in Battle Creek, and was appointed director of the Michigan Department of Aeronautics by the Michigan Aeronautics Commission on March 25, 1957.

Ramsey served as: president and treasurer of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), chairman of the NASAO Airport Committee, vice-president of the Airport Division of the American Road Builders Association, and was a member of the Civil Aeronautics Agency Aviation Development Advisory Committee and the Michigan Association of Airport Executives. He also served as a member of the Michigan Aviation Trades Association, Michigan Flying Farmers, Western Michigan University Aviation Advisory Committee, Inter-Departmental Committee on Water and Related Land Resources, Special Committee on Air Transport Activities-Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, and as volunteer consultant and advisory-Transportation Task Force of the World Trade Committee of the State Chamber of Commerce. He has received the following awards and citations: Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Individual Achievement, 1961; NASAO Distinguished Service, 1961; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Meritorious Service, 1963; American Road Builders Association, Meritorious Service, 1967; Michigan Minuteman Governor s Award, 1970; and the Scheduled Air Carriers Award, 1971. James Ramsey passed away in 1992.

For his substantial dedication and significant contributions to growing and furthering aviation in Michigan, James Ramsey embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

James D. "Jay" Ramsey (2017)

Capt. Jeffrey W. Randall, USN, Retired (2019)


Jeffrey Wayne Randall was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, and graduated from Harper Creek High School. He attended the University of Michigan on a four-year Naval ROTC scholarship, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1966. He would later earn a master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. After participating as a Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout, Jeff gave back to the organization by becoming an Assistant Scout Master, an act he feels is one of his greatest accomplishments. 

Jeff was commissioned an ensign in the US Navy and began active duty training. Having been trained as a Naval Aviator, he was assigned to Attack Squadron 105, flying the Vought A-7 Corsair II. During missions over North and South Vietnam from the USS Kitty Hawk, Jeff earned 20 Air Medals, each given for a single act of heroism or meritorious achievement while in aerial flight.

Jeff served as an A-7 instructor with Attack Squadron 174 and completed two cruises with Attack Squadron 12 in the Mediterranean, flying from the USS Independence. He was next assigned to Air Development Squadron 5 at China Lake, California, as a test pilot in Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, Grumman A-6 Intruders, and A-7s. Joining the Naval Reserve in 1976, Jeff flew Douglas C-118 transport aircraft from Selfridge Air Base in Mount Clemens. Promoted to Captain, he served as a NATO staff officer in the Naval Reserve in Battle Creek until his retirement.

Captain Randall was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1979 as an Airspace System Inspection Pilot based in Battle Creek and served as Captain in jet and turbo-prop airplanes operating in the United States and Europe. He trained new pilots and conducted site inspections to ensure the safety of the National Airspace System. When he retired in 2016, the FAA presented him with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of safe pilot operations. He has accumulated over 29,000 pilot hours and still flies part-time as a charter pilot for RAI Jets based in Kalamazoo and Sturgis.

For his contributions to the aviation industry and for his service to his country and the United States Navy, Captain Jeffrey Randall embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Capt. Jeffrey W. Randall, USN, Retired (2019)

Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann, USAF, Retired (2002)


Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann was born on October 22, 1923 on a farm about six miles from Perry, Michigan. Like so many others, he developed a love for flying as a young boy; reading flying books, building models, and watching aviation films. 

As soon as he turned 18 in 1941, Rann left home to learn how to fly. Since he could not meet the United States Air Force (USAAF) education requirements, Rann went to Canada and joined the Roy Canadian Air Force (RCAF). At the top of his class, he was commissioned a Pilot Officer and sailed for England where he trained in Hurricane fighters.

He transferred to the USAAF in 1943 and rose through the ranks during two tours of duty. During his first tour, 1st Lt. Rann went from a wingman position to element leader, to flight commander, and was promoted to captain in May of 1944. In his second tour he commanded the 359th Fighter Squadron. On January 9, 1945 he was promoted to Major-the youngest in the ETO at the age of 21-and flew P-51s as part of the 356th Fighter Group. He survived three crash landings (mechanical failure), a mid-air collision and was shot down by ground fire. Rann flew 120 combat missions before being taken prisoner. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, ten Air Medals, and numerous other ribbons for his service.

In civilian life, as a veterinarian, Rann was bitten by the flying bug again, owning several planes and finally joining the Michigan Air National Guard where he ultimately became the flying training supervisor, then operations officer. He became the commanding officer at Battle Creek in 1965. As a Colonel he was transferred to the 127th TFW at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and was then promoted to Brigadier General in 1975. He flew a variety of jet aircraft: T-33s, F-89s, B-57s, and F-100s among others, ultimately accumulating over 6,500 hours in both military and civilian aircraft. At the end of his career, Rann was appointed Assistant Adjutant General for Air and Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Military Affairs, being awarded the Legion of Merit upon his retirement.

General Rann was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002. He passed away October 9, 2014.

Brig. Gen. Richard A. Rann, USAF, Retired (2002)

John P. "Jack" Reeder (1992)


John P. "Jack" Reeder was born on May 27, 1916 in Houghton, Michigan. His pioneering efforts have helped to improve the quality and safety of both military and civilian flight. 

Reeder became interested in flying in 1923 when he saw his first aircraft, a WWI Curtis flying boat, and by high school he knew he wanted to be an engineering test pilot. He studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan, and upon graduation in 1938, was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the forerunner of NASA.

Though he wanted to go immediately into the flight research division, he was assigned to the Full Scale Wind Tunnel staff at Langley Research Center. Jack was finally transferred to Langley's Flight Research Division in 1942, and in his first year there he piloted 19 new aircraft, nine of which were fighters. IN 1951, he became head of Flight Operations and Chief Test Pilot. In 1958 he became Assistant Chief of the Flight Mechanics and Technology Division.

Although Reeder spent much of time in airplanes, he is best known for his pioneering work in helicopter and V/STOL aerodynamics and handling as NASA's first helicopter pilot. In addition to being a member of the team that drafted the original military specifications for the flying qualities of helicopters, he is a founding member of the Twirly Birds.

His most important and lasting contribution to aviation may have been convincing NASA management to pursue the Terminal Configured Vehicle (TVC) program which identified, evaluated, and demonstrated systems and concepts that would enhance airport and runway capacity. As part of this program, Reeder led the team that won a NASA Group Achievement Award for demonstrating the capability of MLS. He also received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.

Reeder retired in July, 1980, after 42 years with NACA/NASA. He has captained more than 200 different aircraft types, including 36 jets, 40 fighter aircraft, 60 helicopters, and eight VTOL aircraft. He has also published 75 technical paper and reports.

Reeder was enshrined on November 7, 1992 for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of aircraft of all types. He passed away May 23, 1999 at the age of 82.

John P. "Jack" Reeder (1992)

1st Lt. Karl W. Richter, USAF (2012)


1st Lt. Karl W. Richter was born in Holly, Michigan, in 1942 and graduated from Holly High School. He developed an early interest in aviation and by age 18 had become a skilled pilot. He was selected for enrollment at the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated in June, 1964 with a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He received 53 weeks of pilot training at Craig Air Force Base in Alabama and 26 weeks of combat crew replacement training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada with qualifications in the F-105 Thundercheif. Because of his outstanding ability, he was given the honor of "high-flying" a replacement F-105 directly to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand on April 6, 1966.  

Richter was assigned to the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. Four days later he flew his first F-105 combat mission over North Vietnam. Because of his demonstrated proficiency, he became an element leader, flight leader and the only first lieutenant to serve as mission commander on raids into the Hanoi area. During his first 100-mission tour, he became the youngest U.S. pilot (23) and only the third F-105 pilot to shoot down a MiG. He was awarded the Silver Star and personally decorated by the South Vietnamese Premier with the Vietnamese Distinguished Service Medal.

Richter volunteered for a second 100-mission tour, the only pilot ever approved for a second consecutive tour. On April 20, 1967, he led a flight of F-105s on a defense-suppression mission. His flight destroyed or pinned-down a number of enemy anti-aircraft and surface-to-air missile positions in spite of weather which handicapped navigation and intense enemy fire allowing the strike force to destroy its important railroad target. Richter was awarded the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, for his heroism and skill on that mission.

On July 28, 1967, Richter was leading a new wingman on a mission over North Vietnam when he was hit by anti-aircraft fire and forced to eject. Rescue forces quickly picked him up, but he had been badly injured during his parachute landing and died aboard the rescue helicopter at the age of 24. At the time of his death, Richter flew more combat missions over Vietnam than any other airman.

In addition to the Air Force Cross and Silver Star, Richter was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, 22 Air Medals and the Purple Heart. Bronze statues of Richter stand at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and the Mall of Heroes at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Academy's Richter Lounge, Richter Intermediary School in Holly and the VFW post in Thailand have been named in his honor as well. Portraits of Richter hang in the Academy's Harmon Hall, the U.S. Air Force Museum and the Pentagon.

1st Lt. Karl W. Richter was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.

1st Lt. Karl W. Richter, USAF (2012)

Edward V. "Eddie" Rickenbacker (2011)


Edward V. Eddie Rickenbacker was born October 8, 1890 in Columbus, Ohio. A former resident of Detroit, Michigan, Eddie was a well-known race car driver, having competed in the Indianapolis 500 four times before the onset of World War I. As the U.S. prepared to send troops to Europe, Rickenbacker was offered a position as a staff driver for Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces. He accepted and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917. 

Soon after arriving in France, Rickenbacker transferred to the Army Air Service and learned to fly. With his training completed, he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant and became chief engineer at the training base in Issoudun. After making many improvements there, he was sent for training in aerial gunnery in Cazeau in January, 1918. He qualified as a candidate for training to become a combat pilot instead.

As the first U.S. pilots prepared to leave for the front, Rickenbacker asked to go with them. Maj. Carl Spaatz approved the request and Rickenbacker joined the 94th Aero Squadron, where he proved to be an exceptional fighter pilot. He shot down his first plane with a machine gun on April 29, 1918. A month later he shot down his fifth to qualify as an ace. Rickenbacker rose to command the 94th Aero Squadron and became the leading U.S. ace of World War I with 26 confirmed victories.

His most remarkable action came on September 25, 1918 as Rickenbacker patrolled alone near Billy, France. He spotted a group of seven enemy aircraft, and despite the strength of their numbers, boldly attacked and shot down two of them. President Herbert Hoover awarded Rickenbacker the Medal of Honor in 1930 for his aggressiveness in that action.

In 1935, he became general manager of Eastern Air Lines, and three years later, president and director. To support the World War II effort as a civilian, he conducted an important fact-finding mission to the Soviet Union for the United States.

Rickenbacker passed away in Zurich, Switzerland in 1973. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, seven Distinguished Flying Crosses, Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, and numerous other medals and awards. Rickenbacker was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1965. In 1995 he was honored with his own U.S. postal stamp.

Edward V. Rickenbacker was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011.

Edward V. “Eddie” Rickenbacker (2011)

Lt. Col. Washington D. Ross, USAF, Retired (2012)


Lt. Col. Washington D. Ross was born in 1919 in Mount Bayou, Mississippi. His family moved to Ashland, Kentucky where he attended elementary school. He graduated from Ironton High School in Ohio. In 1941, he graduated with honors from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, earning an undergraduate degree.  He obtained his private pilot's license through the Civilian Pilot Training Program. 

Ross' first employment was as a storekeeper at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. He then reported to Tuskegee Army Air Base in Tuskegee, Alabama for aviation cadet training, Class 43-1. In 1943, he was commissioned second lieutenant and sent to Selfridge Field in Michigan for overseas training. He was taken by ship to Oran, Algeria and flown to Naples. Ross was then assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, which was stationed in Ramitelli, Italy.

Ross was first assigned to fly patrol missions in the P-39 Airacobra. After being transferred to the 15th Air Force, he flew P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustang fighters, protecting bombers on long-range missions for a total of 63 sorties and missions. He escorted bombers on missions to southern Germany and Austria, including to the cities of Schweinfurt, Salzburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Nurnberg, and Heidelberg. Ross flew one low-level mission, attacking anti-aircraft weapons in southern France during which his aircraft was hit by small arms fire.

Upon completion of his overseas duty, he was assigned to Tuskegee Army Air Base as a twin-engine instructor for North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. When Tuskegee closed, he was transferred to Lockbourne Air Force Base in Ohio and honorably discharged after four years of active duty.

He worked for 10 years as a clerk for the U.S. Postal Service. In addition to his undergraduate degree, his education includes graduate study at Wayne State University, a bachelor's degree and master's degree in business administration from D' tre University in Detroit, and a master's degree from the University of Detroit. He was employed for 29 years as a teacher and department head by the Detroit Board of Education, retiring in 1984.

Ross served with the United States Air Force Reserve for 20 years, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was an active member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Speakers Bureau and a life member of the Reserve Officers Association. He also remained active with a number of educational and alumni organizations.

Lt. Col. Washington D. Ross was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012. He passed away October 9, 2017.


Lt. Col. Washington D. Ross, USAF, Retired (2012)

Brig Gen. John C. Rowland, USA, Retired (2005)


Born in Virginia on February 15, 1941, Brigadier General John C. Rowland and his family moved to Monroe, Michigan in 1944. After graduation in 1959, he received a Board of Regents Scholarship to attend Eastern Michigan University. 

Rowland was commissioned as an infantry officer in August, 1965 after graduating from Eastern Michigan University and competition of R.O.T.C. He entered active duty in October, 1965 and completed the Infantry Officers Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, then graduated from flight school in September of 1966.

After flight school he was transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division, Republic of Vietnam where he served as a pilot, section leader, platoon leader and S2 of the 227th Aviation Battalion. While in Vietnam, he flew 839 hours of combat time, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and 32 Air Medals.

After Vietnam, he was transferred to Forth Wolters, Texas and served as a flight instructor until January of 1969 when he was released from active duty. After this, Rowland transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve. In February of 1972 he joined the Michigan Army National Guard as a part-time helicopter pilot.

Returning to civilian life, he worked as a sales engineer and general manager for two automotive suppliers in the Detroit area. He then purchased a small flight school, Wolverine Aviation Inc. at Willow Run Airport. He sold that business in 1974 when Rowland accepted a full time position with the Michigan Army National Guard in Grand Ledge, Michigan. While working at the Army Aviation Support Facility, Rowland served as a flight instructor, Operations Officer, Facility Commander and State Aviation Officer.

He then took a job with Spartan Motors as Director of International Operations. While serving in this capacity, he supervised the company's operations in Mexico. Rowland retired from Spartan Motors in 1994.

Rowland is a dual-rated Master Army Aviator with over 9,700 hours of flight time. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1994 as the Deputy Commander, Maneuver, for the 38th Infantry Division (M). in this assignment he was responsible for the tactical training and deployment of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

Other military decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and other service medals. In 1997 he was honored by being inducted into the Eastern Michigan R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame.

On July 23, 1997 Rowland received Senate confirmation for promotion of the rank of Major General. He retired in October of 1997 and transferred to the Inactive Army Reserve. He is a long time director and past President of Michigan's Freedom Foundation and is a past president of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Rowland and his wife Judy have been married over 50 years and live in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Brigadier General John C. Rowland was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2005.

Brig Gen. John C. Rowland, USA, Retired (2005)

Maj. Gen. Ralph Royce, USAAF, Retired (1997)


Born in Marquette, Michigan in June of 1890, Maj. Gen. Ralph Royce went on to graduate from West Point in 1914 and begin a military career that spanned 32 years and saw action in two world wars. He graduated from the Signal Corps Aviation School in 1916 and was assigned to the 1st Aero Squadron at Columbus, New Mexico.

In late 1917, Maj. Royce took the 1st Aero Squadron to France as its commander. He led the first American aerial reconnaissance over Germany, became Commander, 1st Corps Group, and was then assigned to HQ Staff, American Expeditionary Force. 

After the war, he held various command positions and attended both the Air Corps Tactical and the Army Command and General Staff Schools. In 1928 he became Commander, 1st Pursuit Group, Selfridge Field, Michigan. Major Royce won the Mackay Trophy for leading the January, 1930 "Arctic Patrol" flight from Selfridge to Spokane, Washington and back again.

Following a General Staff assignment in Washington, D.C., he attended the Army War College. In 1934 he was one of the pilots and the Operations Officer on the B-10 "Alaskan Flight." He then became Post and 1st Pursuit Group Commander at Selfridge Field. Assigned to the Philippines in 1937, he served as the Air Officer until August 1939. In July, 1941 he became Air Attach to Britain. He was assigned to Allied Air Forces Australia in September, 1941.

In April, 1942, ten days before the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, General Royce led a bomber force of three B-17 and ten B-25 aircraft on the first retaliatory raid against Japanese targets in the Philippines. The two day assault against targets in Manila, Cebu and Davao was the longest aerial offensive to that date.

After two brief stateside commands, General Royce became commander of all U.S. Forces in the Middle East, then Deputy Commander, 9th Air Force and Senior Air Officer afloat during the Normandy invasion. He retired from active duty in 1946 and made his final flight in August, 1965.

General Royce's decorations include Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit wit one Oak Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre with gilt star.

Major General Ralph Royce was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 18, 1997 for his long and illustrious military aviation career.

Maj. Gen. Ralph Royce, USAAF, Retired (1997)

Rear Adm. John Parke Sager, USN, Retired (2008)


Rear Adm. John Parke Sager was born in Burt Lake, Michigan on June 28, 1912 and graduated from the University of Michigan with both a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in engineering.

He completed flight training and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1936. In 1940, he reported to the Naval Reserve Air Base in Grosse Ile, Michigan. From there he became the Officer in Charge of Flight Test Aero Engine Laboratory at the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia in September. 

While there, he did the first high altitude (over 40,000 feet) service testing of Naval Aircraft using an oxygen mask he designed and built himself. While serving in World War II as Material and War Plans Officer on the Staff of Commander Aircraft, Seventh Fleet, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for meritorious conduct during operations against Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific. He was also awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial flight.

After tours of duty in Washington, D.C. Alameda, California and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Sager returned to Philadelphia in 1953 to serve as executive officer, later commanding officer, of the Naval Air Experimental Station and then reported as Bureau of Aeronautics Representative, St. Louis. The next two years saw him as assistant chief of staff for Material to Commander Fleet Air, Western Pacific and Commander Fleet Air, Japan.

Upon his return to the United States, Sager became the director of the Aircraft Division followed by the director of Logistics Programs. In 1961, he reported for duty as Assistance Force Material Officer in Coronado, CA. Selected for rear admiral in 1964, he held several positions until 1967 when he was appointed as vice commander of the Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters.

Sager retired from the Navy in 1969. In addition to the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal, Sager was awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Silver Star, the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. Sager was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008. He passed away August 19, 1997.

Rear Adm. John Parke Sager, USN, Retired (2008)

Creighton G. "Sandy" Sanderson (1987)


C.G. "Sandy" Sanderson was born in Pickford, Michigan, November 26, 1913. His interest in aviation started when he took his first ride in 1922, at the age of 9, in an OX-5 powered Curtis JN4D. He has maintained this interest his entire life. 

Sanderson enrolled in the first class of government civilian pilots' training, advanced to instructor, and then to chief pilot for Navy training at Western Michigan College. He transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and was a transport pilot for the Air Force to foreign countries. In India, he was assigned to the war in Burma, making air drops to Meril's Marauders. Sandy made 104 "hump" trips supplying China in their defeat of Japan.

A highly decorated aviator, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Cluster, Presidential Citation, S.W. Pacific Bar with Battle Stars, 1328 ABU Meritorious Citation, China Freedom Medal Order of Chaing Kai-shek, and Honorary Commission in the Republic of China Air Force with Command Pilot Wings.

In civilian flying Sanderson also excelled. During his 38 years as an FAA flight examiner he issued in excess of 1,000 pilot certificates and instructed and gave over 1,200 solos in his more than 44 years as an instructor pilot. He accumulated over 27,000 accident-free hours, including 16 damage-free forced landings.

Sanderson is recognized for his service as an Air Force Representative to China for having his long and illustrious career in civilian aviation, his high level of professionalism and his significant contributions to aviation safety which serve as an example to which all pilots should look as they pursue their careers in aviation.

Sanderson was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on December 17, 1987.

Creighton G. "Sandy" Sanderson (1987)

Patrick D. Schiffer (2006)


Flying was Pat Schiffer's passion-a passion he shared with dedication and enthusiasm. His contribution to aviation can be measured in the number and quality of the thousand-plus aviators he produced, as well as the range and scope of their varied careers. It can also be measured in the sheer numbers of people he hooked on flying. 

Schiffer distinguished himself as a pilot, mechanic, instructor, and aviation advocate. He learned to fly in 1946 from his older brother-fresh from World War II-who taught him in a Stearman on the family farm in central Michigan. Later, after being physically disqualified from a military flight slot, Schiffer did his part as a civilian flight instructor at an Air Force contract school in North Carolina. There, he trained pilots in AT-6s, T-28s and T-34s to fight in Korea.

Schiffer was an aircraft mechanic for 45 years, a flight instructor for 41 years, 27 of which as a professor at Western Michigan University, and an FAA pilot licensing examiner and safety counselor for 23 years. Schiffer not only trained pilots and aircraft mechanics, he inspired a love of aviation. Students were generously included in his aviation-saturated life so they could experience the joy flying brought Pat, his wife Lucille and their family.

Schiffer's licenses include: SES, ASMEL, COMM, Instrument, Flight Instructor-AS and M; I.A. and an A&E, Pilot Examiner-private, COMM instrument, ME, and Flight Instructor-hot air balloon pilot. He participated in every aspect of general aviation, serving on airport boards, searching for downed aircraft, operating his own FBO and even spraying crops in Stearman and modified J-3 Cubs. He also rehabilitated fabric-covered planes in his garage.

Schiffer was sought out for his unique expertise as an instructor, especially with warbirds and water landings. This gave him the opportunity to fly many different kinds of aircraft and make life-long friends in the process. He was a charter member of the Michigan Flying Farmers, managed the Otsego/Plainwell airport for 21 years, was active in the AOPA, CAP and Quiet Birdmen, and volunteered at the Air Zoo as both a docent and warbird pilot. Schiffer logged more than 17,000 hours of flight time before his death in 1993.

Schiffer's legacy lives on in three generations of flying Schiffers: all four of his children and three of eight grandchildren soloed on their 16th birthdays. His sons Al and Mike own and operate Al's Aerial Spraying. His oldest grandson Mathew, who soloed with Pat, flies F-16s for the Air Force and has served in Iraq. Youngest grandson Patrick has his private pilot's license. Pat Schiffer was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 1, 2006.

Patrick D. Schiffer (2006)

Maj. Louis J. Sebille, USAF (2010)


Maj. Louis J. Sebille was born on November 21, 1915 in Harbor Beach, Michigan. He attended Walled Lake Schools and Wayne State University in Detroit. During the late 1930s, he worked as the master of ceremonies on the Chicago nightclub circuit. 

Sebille enlisted as an aviation cadet on December 21, 1941. He began flight training in January, 1942 and earned his wings and commission in July, 1942. 2nd Lieutenant Sebille was assigned to the 450th Bombardment Squadron and flew B-26 Marauders. The Group moved to England in early 1943 and Sebille was promoted to 1st lieutenant. He flew the first low level attack ever attempted by B-26s against targets in Europe. He piloted one of 12 aircraft used on that mission. Sebille was promoted to captain in August 1943, as he flew many missions as Squadron, Group and Wing leader.

For his combat action in World War II, Sebille was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 Air Medals. He flew 68 combat missions and had 245 hours of combat time.

Airline companies lured Sebille away with the promise of a flying future, but he soon returned to service in July 1946 when he was offered a regular commission. He held numerous flying assignments, including P-51 Mustang and F-80 Shooting Star instructor pilot. In 1948, he was named commander of the 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He had the formidable task of training new and recalled pilots while converting the Squadron from P-51s to F-80s.

At the outbreak of war in Korea, the Squadron was ordered to convert back to P-51s and move to Ashiya on the island of Kyushu, Japan. In less than a month, the Squadron was combat-ready and in place, joining in the desperate defense of South Korea.

On August 5, 1950, Sebille led a flight of P-51s, armed with 500-pound bombs and rockets, on a strike against enemy troops advancing on Pusan. On his first pass, he was able to release only one of his two bombs. He and his wingmen continued strafing and launching rockets against the enemy. When his P-51 was damaged by ground fire, he elected to dive into the enemy position with his .50 caliber guns firing the whole way.

Sebille was the first pilot in the newly independent Air Force to be awarded the Medal of Honor, which was presented to his widow and young son by the Air Force chief of staff. He is honored by the naming of Sebille Drive at Lackland Air Force Base, and a memorial corner at Harmon Hall at the Air Force Academy.

Louis J. Sebille was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 2010.

Maj. Louis J. Sebille, USAF (2010)

Col. Brewster H. Shaw Jr., USAF, Retired (1995)


Colonel Brewster H. Shaw, Jr. was born on May 16, 1945 in Cass City, Michigan. A gifted student, he dedicated his career to aviation and space exploration. 

Shaw received a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in engineering mechanics from the University of Wisconsin in 1968 and 1969, respectfully.

Shaw entered the Air Force in 1969 and received his wings in 1970. He was assigned to the F-100 Replacement Training Unit at Lake AFB, Arizona. In March, 1971 he was assigned as an F-100 combat pilot to the Pham Rang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. He later flew F-4 phantoms in Thailand before returning to the United States as an F-4 fighter instructor.

Shaw attended the USAF test pilot school at Edwards AFB, California from July 1975 until 1976.

He has logged more than 5,000 hours flying time in over 30 types of aircraft, including 644 hours of combat in the F-100 and F-4 aircrafts.

Shaw was selected as an astronaut in January of 1978. His technical assignments have included support new and entry Capcom for STS-3 and STS-4, staff member for the Rogers' Presidential Commission investigating the STS-SIL Challenger accident. Shaw was a pilot on the STS-9 Spacelab-1 (Columbia) which launched from Kennedy Space Center on November 28, 1983. He was spacecraft Commander on STS-61B (Atlantis) launched on November 26, 1985. He held the same position on the STS-28 (Columbia) launched from Kennedy on August 8, 1989.

With the completion of his third flight, Col. Shaw has logged a total of 534 hours in space. He left the Johnson Space Center in October, 1989 to assume the NASA Headquarters, Senior Executive position of Deputy Director, Space Shuttle Operations, located at Kennedy Space Center. His current assignment is Director, Space Shuttle Operations, Cape Kennedy. Shaw is responsible for development of all space shuttle operations.

Colonel Shaw has received 14 military citations and 19 trophies and awards during his service with the USAF and NASA, including the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with 7 oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 20 oak leaf clusters, and the NASA Outstanding Leadership medal.

Colonel Brewster H. Shaw, Jr. was enshrined on October 14, 1995 for his outstanding piloting skills and his extensive leadership abilities with NASA.

Col. Brewster H. Shaw Jr., USAF, Retired (1995)

Maj. Edward J. Sichterman, USAF, Retired (2015)

1943 -

Maj. Edward J. Sichterman was born in Grand Haven, Michigan, on October10th, 1943. He graduated from Coopersville High School and earned a BS degree in Psychology from Michigan State University in 1965. As a member of MSU s ROTC program, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon graduation and left shortly after to begin pilot training on both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. 

After completing flight training, 2nd Lt. Sichterman deployed to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, where he joined the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS), a unit dedicated to performing search and rescue operations for downed aviators in Vietnam. Flying the Sikorsky HH-3 helicopter (affectionately called the "Jolly Green Giant" because of its large size), 2nd Lt. Sichterman began participating in rescue missions shortly after his arrival. On February 22nd, 1967, less than a month after arriving in-country, he earned his first Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for "extraordinary achievement in aerial flight" during a daring nighttime rescue in foul weather where he and his pilot were able to overcome mechanical failure and hazardous conditions to effect the rescue of two downed aviators. In September of 1967, the 37th ARRS received the updated Sikorsky HH-53 helicopters, nicknamed the "Super Jolly Green Giant" due to its increased armament, armor, and operating range. Soon after, his detachment moved to Nakohm Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base to join the 40th ARRS.

Later that year, on November 11th, 1967, Sichterman, now a first lieutenant, was awarded a second DFC for heroism after his fighter escort was shot down and he performed a lengthy and dangerous extraction of the pilot while under heavy direct fire from the enemy. After completing his first tour in February of 1968, Sichterman left Southeast Asia and joined a unit involved in aerial mapping and charting. He returned for a second combat tour flying search and rescue missions with the 40th ARRS in 1969, and in the month of December earned a Silver Star for heroism and a third DFC on two separate rescue missions in enemy territory. Promoted to Captain, he returned for a third tour of duty in 1970 and earned two more DFCs, one for heroism and the other for achievement. On one mission, Sichterman was the pilot of the helicopter which rescued fellow Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinee Lt. Karl Richter from Holly, Michigan, who had been injured bailing out in North Vietnam.

After leaving Southeast Asia following his last tour, Capt. Sichterman transitioned to fixed wing aircraft and piloted C-130s, a large, prop-driven, multi-use tactical transport aircraft, in a variety of roles. He was promoted to the rank of Major, and his flight duties included weather reconnaissance, airborne refueling, and Search and Rescue Coordination. His aircraft also served as part of the transport detail for President Ronald Reagan, and on occasion carried the presidential limousine and other vehicles for the first family. He earned a Master's Degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1980, and after retiring from the Air Force in December, 1985, began work with the United States Postal Service as an Electrical Technician. In addition to the five Distinguished Flying Crosses and Silver Star, Major Sichterman earned two Air Force Commendation Medals for meritorious service as a Flight Commander in the 54th Weather Reconnaisance Squadron in Guam, and as Search and Rescue Coordinator in the Western Pacific Rescue Coordination Center in Japan.


During his 20-year USAF career, Major Sichterman flew HH-3 and HH-53 combat rescue helicopters, WC-30 weather reconnaissance airplanes, and C-130 tactical transport airplanes for a total of over 4,000 pilot hours. For his service to his country and exemplary heroism and dedication to both duty and his fellow man, Major Edward John Sichterman embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Maj. Edward J. Sichterman, USAF, Retired (2015)

Col. Jack A. Sims, USAF, Retired (2003)


Doolittle Tokyo raider, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and the only Michigan native on the raider rolls, Col. Jack A. Sims, USAF, Retired was born in 1919.  Colonel Sims enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in November, 1940 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and Pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps the following year.

After flying as co-pilot on B-25 Mitchell medium bombers assigned to submarine patrol and war maneuvers, he volunteered (along with 79 other flight crewmen) for an unknown mission to be led by the veteran pilot and air pioneer Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle. Colonel Sims flew as copilot with Major John Hilger, who was second in command to Doolittle. It turned out to be a "one-way" mission to bomb the Japanese home islands with the city of Nagoya as Sims' target area.

After an arduous 3 month journey, he made it back to the United States and was reassigned to the 320th Bomb Group, United States 12th Air Force, North Africa, as 1st Pilot on B-26 Marauder medium bombers. He successfully completed 40 bombing missions as Squadron Commander of the 444th Bomb Squadron.

He returned to the U.S. and was reassigned as Air Operations Officer and Inspector, Air Transport Command, Ferrying Division. Subsequent Air Force assignments followed: Chief, Contracts Fraud Branch, HQ., USAF, Washington, D.C.; Air Force Liaison, GHQ FEAF (MacArthur's Staff) where he flew as 1st pilot on a B-29 Superfortress bombing mission; Air Command and Staff College first as student then as faculty; Chief, U.S. House of Representatives Liaison Office, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington D.C.; Office of the Air Attach , American Embassy, London, England as Chief, USAF/RAF Exchange Program; Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, USAF, HQs, Washington, D.C.

Colonel Sims retired as a full Colonel with a Command Pilot rating after 28 years of continuous Air Force service. He is the co-author of his biography, First Over Japan- an autobiography of a Doolittle Tokyo Raider.
Col. Sims was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 11, 2003.

Col. Jack A. Sims, USAF, Retired (2003)

Cecil R. "Sinnie" Sinclair (1995)


Cecil Raymond "Sinnie" Sinclair was born on April 8, 1888 in Chandlersville, Illinois. A gifted pilot, he dedicated his career to the advancement of aviation, both as a pilot and businessman.

Sinnie began his aviation career in 1915 and was soloing later that same year. Sinnie flew exhibitions until he joined the U.S. Signal Corp. as a civilian flight instructor in 1916 teaching Army pilots. In 1925 Sinnie became Assistant Manager of Ford Airport in Dearborn, Michigan. From there, he flew airmail for Ford, flying the "Stout all-metal airplanes" in 1926. He joined Universal Airlines in 1928 and flew throughout the Midwest. In 1935, Universal Airlines became American Airlines and two years later Sinnie left to create the Sinclair Flying School in Muskegon, Michigan. He remained in Muskegon for over 50 years.

Sinnie spent his years in Muskegon with flight instruction, charter work, aerial photography, aerial ambulance trips and various other aviation projects. Sinnie taught thousands of students to fly, from WW I pilots to young kids. He was a prolific instructor who never had a student that did not succeed. Many of his students went on to have prominent careers in aviation.

Sinnie's flight hours are not known, but it believed that they exceed 30,000 hours. He has received hundreds of awards and citations, and served as the Michigan President of the OX5 Club of America. He organized and was a Colonel in the Muskegon Group of the Civil Air Patrol, and was also bestowed a 1956 honorary life member of the AERO Club of Michigan, a 1962 honorary member of the Grey Eagles- Retired American Airline Pilots, a 1965 honorary member of the Michigan Flying Farmers, a 1965 Magnificent Man Award by Twentieth Century Fox, to "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines," he was also an Honored Guest with Walter Carr, Sr., at the 50th Anniversary of the Air Mail service in 1968. Sinnie was also a member of all major aviation fraternal organizations of his time.

Sinnie Sinclair was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1977 as the oldest living pilot in the world. He passed away on April 5, 1986.
Cecile Raymond "Sinnie" Sinclair was enshrined on October 14, 1995 for his 55 years of dedicated service to Michigan Aviation.


Cecil R. "Sinnie" Sinclair (1995)

George M. Skurla (2008)


George Skurla was born in Newark, N.J., on July 2, 1921 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1944. 

After completing his college training, Skurla joined Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation as an apprentice engineer. After an apprenticeship in the production shop, he served in the stress and research departments before being appointed chief of structural flight test in 1950.

After a four-year assignment as chief engineer for Aerobilt Bodies, Inc., a division of Grumman, he returned to the parent firm in 1960, serving as manager of corporate commercial product development, and later as assistant director of flight test.

In 1965, he became director of operations for Grumman at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Kennedy Space Center. In that position, he brought together the 1,600-man Grumman team responsible for the final assembly, test and pre-launch checkout for the Apollo lunar module vehicle.

The LM spacecraft, which was designed, developed and produced by Grumman, was the final stage in NASA's Apollo Program which landed American astronauts on the surface of the moon. Skurla was elected a vice president February, 1970, before returning to Bethpage, N.Y. as director of product engineering for all aircraft and spacecraft programs.

In June of 1973 he was named general manager of operations at Grumman's Calverton facility on Long Island, the major final assembly and test site for the F-14 Tomcat fighter, EA-6B Prowler and A-6E Intruder aircraft.

In 1974 Skurla was elected president and chief operating officer of Grumman Aerospace Corporation. In 1976 he became chairman of the board and chief executive officer. Mr. Skurla was elected president of the parent company, Grumman Corporation, on February 14, 1985, and retired from Grumman Corporation on July 31, 1986.

His illustrious career spanned five decades. In the words of former Grumman chairman, John C. Bierwirth, "Skurla devoted over 40 years to the company and brought his management talents to bear on programs such as the U.S. Navy's F-14 Tomcat fighter and NASA's Apollo lunar module. His contributions benefited not only the company, but the entire country'."

Skurla was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008.

George M. Skurla (2008)

Lt. Col. John M. Slattery, USAF, Retired (2010)


Lt. Col. John M. Slattery was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan. He was accepted into Aviation Cadets towards the end of World War II. With the need for pilots declining, he was offered training as a gunner, a ground crewman in the Air Force or he could join another branch of service. Since he wanted to be a pilot, he decided to begin his military service as a Marine. He served in the Pacific Theater, China and was being trained for an invasion of the Japanese mainland when the war was ending. After the war, he returned to Bay City and began college.  

In 1951 when the Korean War erupted, Slattery was recalled as a Marine and sent to Korea. As an infantryman suffering from frostbite, he was medevaced in a Bell H-13, which was the beginning of his interest in helicopters.

After he was discharged from active service again, he applied to Air Force Flight School, was accepted and graduated, qualifying in both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. He served as a pilot on assignments throughout the USA, Libya and two tours in Vietnam. As a flight instructor in Vietnam, he was instrumental in training a number of Vietnamese pilots to fly operational missions in the Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw and the UH-1 Iroquois. He also flew the Kaman H-43 Husky as a crash-rescue pilot and standardization pilot.

As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Slattery flew more than 100 life-saving missions and received 30 citations including the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star, an Air Medal with 15 Clusters, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with two Silver Stars and the Vietnam Air Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Wings. He had more than 6,000 hours of flying time in rotorcraft. He also won an award for meritorious service as deputy chief of staff for operations (helicopter) with Air Force Advisory Team Two, headquartered at Nha Trang Air Base, from 1971-1972. He won credit for a major role in making that section on the Vietnamese Air Force self-sufficient.

On August 1, 1974, Slattery retired after 29 years of service with the Marines and the Air Force. Because of his enthusiasm and passion for helicopters, he began working with Helicopter Association International (HAI) and Helicopter Foundation International (HFI). As their archive curator, he dedicated many hours to the preservation and documentation of HFI's historical collection.

Slattery passed away in March, 2008. His wife, Jane, resides in Fort Washington, Maryland. They have two sons, Mike and Matt.

John Slattery was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 2010.

Lt. Col. John M. Slattery, USAF, Retired (2010)

Lt. Gen. Donavon F. Smith, USAF, Retired (2012)


Lt. Gen. Donavon F. Smith was born in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1922. His family moved to Niles, Michigan and he graduated from Niles High School in 1940. He entered the aviation cadet program in January, 1942. 

Smith was assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group in England where he remained throughout his combat career, becoming squadron commander. He flew 385 combat hours during 123 combat missions in P-47 Thunderbolts. He became a fighter ace with eighty enemy aircraft destroyed-six in arial combat. Three aircraft were shot down on a single mission over Emden, Germany on December 11, 1943, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

In March, 1945, Smith returned to the United States for new assignments, including one at the headquarters of the Army Air Forces in Washington, D.C. In May, 1946 he was assigned to Strategic Air Command at Selfridge Field in Michigan as commander of the 61st Fighter Squadron, and then to assignment with the 56th Fighter Group. In 1948, he served as operations officer in the first overseas deployment of jet fighter aircraft from Selfridge Field to Germany, and back.

Smith was assigned as the U.S. Air Force-Royal Air Force exchange officer and served as commander of the No. 1 RAF Fighter Squadron in Tangmere, England from August, 1949 to September, 1950. From 1950 to 1956, he served with Air Defense Command in various assignments, then returned to Europe as commander of the 21st Fighter-Bomber Group in Chambley, France.

Smith again returned to the U.S. in 1960 and was assigned as director of North American Air Defense Command Operations, 25th NORAD Region, and then as commander of the 325th Fighter Interceptor Wing. In October, 1966 he was named chief advisor to the Republic of Vietnam Air Force. In the U.S. he was appointed vice commander of the Ninth Air Force, and then commander of the Nineteenth Air Force. In August, 1972, he was appointed commander of the Alaskan Air Command.

Smith was promoted to major general in August, 1969, and to lieutenant general in July, 1973. He retired on November 1, 1973, and died on September 10, 1974. In 1975, the city of Niles named its Veterans Memorial Park the "Donavan Smith Memorial Park." His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation with one oak leaf cluster, as well as awards from the Republic of Vietnam.

Lt. Gen. Donavon F. Smith was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.


Lt. Gen. Donavon F. Smith, USAF, Retired (2012)

Col. James W. Smolka, Retired (2020)


Colonel James W. Smolka, born on July 31, 1950 in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, received his Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1972. He is a 1978 graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School, served on active duty until 1983, and subsequently served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve until 1999. Among the aircraft he flew in the Air Force were the T-38, A-7D, OV-10A, A-37, A-10A, and F-15B. Smolka retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of colonel in 1999 after 27 years of active and reserve service. Smolka received Master of Science degrees in 1980 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University in 1994. In 2011, he received a Master's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Washington. 

Smolka was an F-16 experimental test pilot with General Dynamics Corporation for two years at Edwards. As a research pilot at NASA Dryden (now Armstrong), he flew the NF-15B research aircraft, and the Gulfstream/NASA F-15. He was co-project pilot on the F-16XL and the F-18. 

Smolka served chief engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, in charge of the Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review Board that determines and provides the appropriate level of independent technical review for each project prior to flight. 

In 2012, Smolka became the Director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. He was responsible for the Center's fleet of highly modified manned and unmanned aircraft that are flown on worldwide science, astronomy, and aeronautical flight research missions, as well as the flight and ground crews that fly and maintain them. Smolka retired from NASA in 2016 as the Director of Safety and Mission Assurance. 

Smolka was inducted as a Fellow at the Society of Experimental Test Pilots 2012 Symposium. Smolka has authored several technical publications and taught several courses in the aerospace field. He has accumulated more than 9,000 hours of flight time during his flying career. 

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to innovative aeronautical advances, James W. Smolka was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 15, 2020. 

Col. James W. Smolka, Retired (2020)

Carl B. Squier (2004)


Had it not been for Carl Brown Squier of Decatur, Michigan, Kelly Johnson and the Skunkworks would never have created some of the most important planes in history. Squire literally saved Lockheed from becoming a mere footnote in aviation history. With Lockheed on the verge of bankruptcy, Squier provided the organizational genius that kept the company going and sold the company's products like no other salesman could. He contributed to the success of our nation's armed forces in two wars, and made a huge impact on the modern aviation industry.

Born on April 17, 1893, and growing up on a Michigan farm, Squier went on to become the 13th licensed pilot in the United States. While attending the University of Michigan in 1917, he decided to join the Army Signal Corps. He went to officer's school at Fort Sheridan and did preliminary training in Texas. He went on to San Diego for his first military flights and passed his test to receive his commission. He trained at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and became a combat pilot in France. He formed a good friendship with Eddie Rickenbacker and later sold Rickenbacker cars.

After the war, Squier was active in organizing chapters of the National Aeronautic Association. He barnstormed with Eddie Stinson and was employed by the Stinson Company. In 1928 he became Vice President of the Eastman Flying Boat Corporation. Detroit Aircraft bought out Eastman and in 1929 Squier was sent to California to take over the Lockheed subsidiary.

When the stock market crashed, Detroit Aircraft Corporation became insolvent, while Lockheed remained in the black. Squier was so dedicated to the company and its employees that in 1932 he depleted his own savings and mortgaged his car and house to meet the payroll. Alas, the economic conditions were so bad that he could keep the company afloat.

"The Lockheed name is too good to die," he said. So Squier, who would become known as the "world's greatest airplane salesman," made perhaps his greatest sale of all; not of an airplane, but of an airplane company. He convinced investor Robert E. Gross and associates to buy the company. Lockheed-Martin remains one of the leading aviation companies of the world to date.

Carl's personal motto was: "Make a friend, sell a plane." He sold aircraft to Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes and Arctic bush pilot Ben Eielson. In all, Squier was responsible for selling Lockheed aircraft to 28 airlines and the militaries of nine governments.

During World War II, Squier oversaw the building and operations of the company's base in Ireland, and was responsible for Lockheed's field services in Africa, China, and the Pacific. After the war, he served as Vice President of sales until 1956. Upon Squier's death in 1967, Chairman of the Board D.J. Haughton said that Squier "had been a pivotal figure in the growth of Lockheed... it is no exaggeration to say that had there been no Carl Squier, there quite conceivably would have been no Lockheed today."
Carl B. Squier was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 2, 2004.

Carl B. Squier (2004)

Col. Robert F. Staake, US Army, Retired (2020)


Robert “Bob” Staake was born in Camden, New Jersey, on May 17, 1951. He and his family moved to Michigan in 1954 where he would graduate from Allen Park High School in 1969. Volunteering for the draft in 1970, Staake was trained in helicopter repair and served one year in Vietnam as a UH-1H helicopter crew chief and door gunner, earning eight air medals. After Korea, he joined the Army Reserve. Using the GI Bill, he completed training as a commercial pilot and a certified flight instructor. Staake taught pilot ground school classes at Henry Ford Community College and worked as a Flight Instructor at Grosse Ille and Detroit Metro airports.  

In 1980, Staake joined the Michigan Army National Guard. He graduated from Army Officer Candidate School, then completed Helicopter Flight School. Assigned as a scout helicopter pilot in Air Cavalry, flying single-pilot OH-59 Kiowa helicopters, he held several leadership positions throughout the years.   

In 1981, Staake was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration. Staake graduated from the FAA Air Traffic Control Academy in 1984 and achieved Air Traffic Controller certification at Detroit Willow Run Tower. In 1987, he transferred to the FAA Flight Inspection Office in Battle Creek, where he worked as an Airspace System Inspection Pilot, designing instrument approach procedures, flight inspections, and certifying the national airspace system. 

Staake retired from the Army in 2008 as a full Colonel, with over 31 years of military service and from the FAA in 2010. He achieved a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embrey-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Master Degrees from the American Military University and the United States Army War College. Staake has accumulated over 12,000 pilot hours and is a certified Remote (Drone) Pilot. His awards include the United States Army Legion of Merit, Vietnam Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Air Medal (with seven oak leaf clusters), Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry (with palm), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and the State of Michigan Distinguished Service Medal.  

For his dedication and service to our country and his contributions to Federal Flight Inspection and Air Traffic Control, Col. Robert F Staake is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 15, 2020. 

Col. Robert F. Staake, US Army, Retired (2020)

Bernice T. "B" Steadman (2002)


Bernice Trimble Steadman, more fondly known as "B," was born July 9, 1925 in Rudyard in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As a child, flying was the center of her universe and, once graduated from high school, she got the opportunity to learn in Flint, Michigan. She actually had her pilot's license before her driver's license! "B" began flying professionally when she received her commercial rating in 1946 and then obtained her instructor rating. 

She taught and flew charter planes and when the opportunity arose, began her own flight school and charter service as part of her FBO, Trimble Aviation. "B" was an air racer, winning many of the major national and regional races including the All Women Transcontinental Air Race, the International Air Race, and the Michigan Small Race. She consistently placed in the top ten in every race without a specially prepared aircraft and often using aircraft on loan from others. One of the first women to obtain an Airline Transport Rating, she instructed reserve Air Force officers, corporate pilots and other airline pilots.

In 1961, "B" was one of only 13 women who passed the Mercury Space Program's medical and performance tests to become an astronaut. Unfortunately, NASA cancelled the women's part of the program. Recipient of the Michigan Outstanding Pilot Award, in 1968 "B" was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the original members of the President's Women's Advisory Committee on Aviation. Also in 1968, she was appointed chairperson of the Ann Arbor Airport Commission and elected President of the International Ninety Nines, the largest organization of women pilots that is active throughout the world. "B" is co-founder of the International Women's Air & Space Museum and has been its President or Executive Vice President for much of its lifetime.

In 1996 "B" started her own Taxi company in Traverse City and was actively involved in the daily operations of that company including driving cab on a regular basis. She co-authored with Jody Clark a book on her life, Tethered Mercury, which has received exceptional reviews.
Bernice T. "B" Steadman was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 12, 2002. She passed away March 18, 2015.

Bernice T. "B" Steadman (2002)

Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart Jr., USAF, Retired (2009)


Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart Jr. grew up in New York City where, during World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. After completing his flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama and while still a teenager- he was awarded his pilot's wings and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. 

Harry then took combat fighter training in P-47D Thunderbolt at Walterboro Army Air Field IN South Carolina. Afterword, he was sent overseas and assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy, where he flew 43 bomber escort missions in the P-51 Mustang. When the war ended, Harry returned to the United States and continued his duties as a fighter pilot until his eventual discharge from the service in 1950.

As one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, Harry was credited with destroying three enemy aircraft in aerial combat and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters. He further distinguished himself as a member of the winning team in the 1949 USAF Gunnery Meet, now popularly known as "top gun."

Upon his discharge from the Air Force, Harry returned to New York City, attended New York University and eventually received a Bachelor's of Mechanical Engineering degree. In his civilian capacity, Harry maintained his Air Force Reserve affiliation and flew mostly P-47N planes until he retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Additionally, as a civilian, he also retired as vice president of ANR Pipeline Company, a major interstate natural gas consortium, formerly headquartered in Detroit.

At the time of his enshrinement, Harry still enjoyed flying and frequently flew neighborhood youngsters out of Detroit City Airport in a Schweizer motor glider. He resides in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Harry Stewart was enshrined April 18, 2009 into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart Jr., USAF, Retired (2009)

Edward A. "Eddie" Stinson Jr. (1990)


Edward A. "Eddie" Stinson Jr., one of four children of Scotch/Irish parents Edward and Emma Stinson, was born in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1894. Eddie's older sisters, Katherine and Marjorie gravitated to the infant aviation business almost before they were out of their teens, providing a natural path for Eddie, who had already displayed considerable mechanical aptitude as well as a free-wheeling appreciation of the good life.

In the fall of 1915, Eddie, who had been working as a mechanic at his sister's San Antonio, Texas, flying school, enrolled in the Orville Wright School of Flying at Dayton, Ohio. Here he received his first and possibly only formal flight training. Rejoining his sisters in Texas, Eddie continued his training, and in December, 1915, qualified for his F.A.I. pilot certificate.

The U.S. Army's aviation training center, Kelly Field, was established at San Antonio on April 10, 1917, just three days after the declaration of war against Germany. Eddie, then a buck private at Kelly, was designated a flight instructor and was subsequently hired as a senior civilian instructor. Kelly graduates described Eddie as a confident, cool-headed aerobatic virtuoso who could perform any maneuver in the book, plus a number of original stunts from his own repertoire.

At war's end, Eddie left the Air Service and for a time carried passengers, one of whom was an attractive milliners' model, Estelle Judy, whom Eddie married.

In his relatively short aviation career, Eddie was part of every phase of the industry; barnstormer, stunt pilot, flight instructor, test pilot, airline operator, aircraft inventor and builder, salesman, manufacturing executive, and in the words of his contemporaries, "dean of American airmen."

Along the way he built up sufficient momentum to enable his Stinson Aircraft Corporation of Michigan to grow and prosper long after his death.
Eddie Stinson died January 26, 1932, following an early evening emergency landing attempt on Chicago's Jackson park golf course.

Edward Stinson Jr., a free spirited hero of aviation's glorious golden years, was enshrined on September 15, 1990.

Edward A. "Eddie" Stinson Jr. (1990)

William B. Stout (1988)


William Bushnell Stout was born March 16, 1880 in Quincy, Illinois, and died in 1956 at the age of 76. Preferring to be known as an imaginer, his innovations have profoundly affected aviation. 

Stout moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1914 to help Scripps-Booth redesign their motorcycle. The result was the first Scripps-Booth automobile. In 1917, he joined Packard to manage the newly formed aircraft division. During World War I, William Stout served as technical advisor to the Aircraft Production Board, counseling that aircraft design was causing too much power to be used to fight "built-in headwinds," and advised designers to instead "build think wings," and "shut all the bracing structures inside."
Orville Wright endorsed his concepts by calling the resulting trial model "the next step in aviation." In 1919, Stout built the first American commercial monoplane-the Batwing. The Batwing was followed in 1920 by the first all-metal plane designed in America-a torpedo plane for the Navy.

Henry Ford spent an afternoon at the Stout Metal Airplane Company shop and heard Stout say that Detroit needed an airport and a factory at the airport. Ford built that airport, a factory, and bought the Stout Metal Airplane Company. Stout stayed with the company and produced the Ford Tri-Motor.

William Stout also founded America's first scheduled airline. Stout Air Service introduced the first uniformed pilots, flying in enclosed cockpits. The airline was sold and resold, eventually becoming United Airlines.
Stout was a man of many talents. He proposed building the all metal Sky Car. He served as aviation and technical editor of the Chicago Tribune. He founded a magazine, Aerial Age, and was well known for his innovations with trains, automobiles, and airplanes.

Stout was enshrined on October 14, 1988 for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of aircraft design.

William B. Stout (1988)

Maj. Gen. E. Gordon Stump, USAF, Retired (2016)

1942 -

Major General E. Gordon Stump was born on May 23rd, 1942, in Zanesville, Ohio. He graduated from South High School in Akron, Ohio, in 1959 and attended the University of Akron, where he graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. While pursuing his degree, he participated in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and was ultimately selected to serve as Wing Commander for the University s 1200 ROTC cadets. 

Receiving his ROTC commission upon graduation, General Stump then attended pilot training at Webb Air Force Base, Texas. In September 1966, he received his wings and the Commander s Trophy for placing first in his training class. He was assigned to pilot the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, a supersonic interceptor, and attended Fighter Interceptor Training at Perrin Air Force Base, Texas. Following training, he was assigned to the 509th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, and from July, 1967, through July, 1969, flew 244 combat missions over Vietnam, earning 10 Air Medals. General Stump left Clark Air Force Base in July, 1969, and was assigned alert duty in the F-102 at Key West Naval Air Station.

In December, 1969, Gen. Stump was released from active duty and joined the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG). In March, 1973, he moved to Michigan and flew the F-100 with the 107th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Michigan Air National Guard where he served as Flight Commander of the unit he was until promoted to Squadron Commander in June, 1979. Promoted again in August, 1981, the General served as Chief of the Command Post for the 127th Tactical Fighter Wing until December, 1986, when he became Director of Operations for the Michigan Air National Guard Headquarters Staff located in Lansing. He assumed the Deputy Commander s position in July, 1987, and became the Commander, Headquarters, Michigan Air National Guard in September, 1989. In 1991, Governor Engler appointed General Stump to the position of the Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, a position he held for 12 years, making him the longest serving ANG Officer and the 3RD longest serving Adjutant General in 200 years.

In addition to his military career, General Stump retired from Michelin Tire Corporation (formerly Uniroyal Tire Company) as Vice President of Automotive Engineering, served in a consulting capacity for numerous projects and organizations, developed programs for troubled youth, and is a member of multiple veterans organizations.

General Stump accumulated over 4500 hours of flying time in T-33, T-37, T-38, F102, F84F, F100, A-7, F-16, and C-130 aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal/Silver Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal/Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Force Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon/5 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Armed Forces Reserve Medal/Hourglass Device, Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, State Legion of Merit, State Broadsword Service Ribbon/Gold Oak Leaf Cluster, and the State OCONUS Ribbon/Silver Oak Leaf Cluster.

Maj. Gen. E. Gordon Stump, USAF, Retired (2016)

Herbert E. Swan (1998)


Herbert E. Swan was born June 21, 1924 in Eaton County, Michigan. He grew up on a farm and attended a one room schoolhouse near Dimondale. Drafted into the Army in June, 1943, he was with the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion that captured the Lundendorff Bridge at Remagen. He was one of the first American soldiers ever to see a jet airplane; a German ME262 as it tried to destroy the bridge.

Twice wounded in action, he spent nine months in rehabilitation. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II European Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Good Conduct medal and the European Occupation medal.

Herb's aviation career started in 1965 in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, flying with a charter service to deliver electrical contract bids. He soloed in 1968, got his private license and went on to get commercial, sea plane, and instrument ratings. In 1970 he was appointed special deputy Sheriff of Chippewa County and served as the Sheriff Department's commander of the air search and rescue squad.

Herb served on the Kincheloe Air Force Base closure committee and the military to civilian use transition team. He was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics commission in 1981 and re-appointed for another four year term, twice serving as chairman. One of his major accomplishments was enabling the passing of the "Tall Structures Act" by the Michigan legislature. Herb was appointed co-chairman of the Governor's Air Service task force and also co-chaired the Governor's Air Service Council.

Herb has received numerous citations from the U.S. Congress and the Michigan legislature for his contributions to aviation.

In 1987, Herb founded the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and was elected its first President. On November 17, 1987, the first group of members were inducted, with each class including important Michigan aviation pioneers.

Herbert E. Swan, pilot, aviation advocate, and historian, was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 10, 1998 for 30 years of selfless contributions to Michigan aviation. He passed away November 26, 2002.

Herbert E. Swan (1998)

Brig. Gen. Arthur P. Tesner, USAF, Retired (2001)


Brig. Gen. Arthur P. Tesner was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 22, 1930 and graduated from Henry Ford Trade School in Dearborn in 1947. 

Following high school, he enrolled in Ford Motor Co. Engineering Design School and two years later enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard. His Ford and military careers remained entwined for 33 years.

The Ford experience included detail drafting, design layout, engineering and several supervisory and management positions. It also included a nine-year stint at an assembly plant in Louisville, KY.

Gen. Tesner's military experience includes a period from 1951 through mid-1952 on active duty as a sergeant aircraft crew chief. In 1954, he returned to active duty to enter pilot training. He earned his wings flying the PA-18, AT-6, T-28 and the T-23 aircraft. He received his wings in 1955 at Williams Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona where, 30 years later, his son Peter earned his wings.

On Gen. Tresner's return to the Guard, he flew F-86, T-33, C-45, B-25, F-89 and the F-84 aircraft and became a captain. In 1964, when ford sent him to Louisville, he transferred to the Kentucky Air National Guard and flew RB-57, F-101 and C-54s. this unit was called to active duty in 1968 for 18 months during the Pueblo crisis and served in Alaska, Panama, Japan and Korea. On his return from active duty, he was promoted to major in the Kentucky Air National Guard.

In 1974, Ford transferred Gen. Tesner to the engineering staff in Dearborn and he transferred back to the Michigan Air Guard as a lieutenant colonel.
Named vice wing commander, he was promoted to colonel. In 1983 he retired from Ford and became assistant Adjutant General for the Michigan Air National Guard, Department of Military Affairs with the rank of brigadier general.

Gen. Tesner held an aeronautical rating of command pilot with approximately 4,000 flying hours. He was an active member of several military and aviation organizations. Gen. Tesner passed away on October 11, 1999.

Brig. Gen. Arthur P. Tesner was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001.

Brig. Gen. Arthur P. Tesner, USAF, Retired (2001)

Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus, USAF, Retired (1996)


Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus was born on October 11, 1922 in Madison County, Tennessee. His 36 year Air Force career was dedicated to upgrading military administrative operations, improving human and race relations in the Armed Forces, and encouraging young people to pursue careers in aviation. 

His tour of duty began in World War II as a private in the Army Air Corps. It included stops in Tuskegee, Germany, France, Greece, and Vietnam, and led him to command of the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center and an Assistant Directorship of the Defense Security Assistance Agency.

He spent much of his military career developing and implementing administrative systems to improve the life of the average airman and soldier. Programs such as direct deposit for military payrolls and better human relations are prime examples. While assigned to the Pentagon, he chaired the inter-service task force where his recommendations led to a Department of Defense-wide race relations education and policy development, and establishment of the forerunner to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. He retired from the Air Force in 1979.
Gen. Theus was the first African American support officer and the third overall to be appointed general in the U.S. Air Force. He was also the first African American to attend Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.

He is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. He was inducted into the Enlisted Men's Hall of Fame in 1995. The Major General Lucius Theus Auditorium at Patrick Air Force Base was dedicated in his honor in 1996.

Gen. Lucius Theus was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 19, 1996 for his long and illustrious Air Force administrative career, his unwavering attention to race and human relations in the Armed Services, and his dedication to the nation's young people.

Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus, USAF, Retired (1996)

Lt. Col. Donald C. Thomas Jr., USAF, Retired (2015)

1926 - 2011

Lt. Col. Donald C. Thomas Jr. was born in Detroit, MI on November 14, 1926 and passed away on November 29th, 2011. Donald was always intrigued by aircraft and flight. When an all-Black Fighter Group was stationed at Selfridge Airfield for Gunnery Training near his home in 1943, he was "hooked" on flying when he saw the Black flyers in action on several occasions. In early 1944, Donald took and passed the Army Air Corps flying qualification exam. Too young to join the Services then, he waited for the call and at 18, Donald was inducted into the military and off to Keesler Field, Mississippi for Basic Training. 

While Cadet Thomas began his journey south as a boastful 18 year old, he became more cautious as he got closer to Mississippi. He recalled becoming very aware of the separate seating for blacks in restaurants, as well as the special bathrooms and other facilities. He remembered this journey as his introduction to segregation and discrimination.


A pivotal point for Cadet Thomas was when he and close to 60 other cadets were told to retake the entrance test previously passed months earlier. After the retest, they individually reported to an Army Captain, who told Cadet Thomas he had failed. As he turned towards the door in dismay, the Captain quickly told him he had made a mistake. While shaken, Thomas was thrilled to be one of only thirteen cadets in his group retained for aviation training. He enthusiastically embarked on his next phase of training, eventually arriving at the famed Tuskegee Institute, which is recognized for training more than 990 Black military aviators and being the first step towards a desegregated military.


While Cadet Thomas completed his training, the war ended before he could deploy. The Tuskegee program was disbanded shortly after and Thomas separated from the military to continue his civilian education. He reentered the military in 1950 and was required to complete the Aviation Cadet Program a second time. After successfully completing the program, he served with distinction until retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1983. His flight qualifications include single and multi-engine propeller and jet aircraft (PT-13, T-6, T-28, B-25, C-47, C-46, SA-16, C-82, C-119, C-130, T-33, F-80, F-84, F-86, DC-9, T-39, C-141), and he served as an instructor, evaluator and a command pilot logging over 6,800 flying hours, 2,000 of which were carrier takeoffs and landings. Lt. Col Thomas also served as Security Forces Commander, a Provost Marshal, an instructor at Embry-Riddle University, an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Science at NC A&T State University, and a teacher for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools and Detroit Public Schools. His education included a B.A. in Biology, Chemistry and Physics; B.S. in Science Education; and a M.A. in Education. His military decorations included the Joint Services Commendation Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Unit Citation, US Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Combat Readiness Medal, Armed Forces Expedition Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal with three Campaign Stars, Long and Short Tour Campaign Medals, American Theater Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, the Reserve Officers Medal with a Ten Year Hour Glass, and Congressional Gold Medal through legislation under President George W. Bush, officially recognizing the original Tuskegee Airmen.

Lt. Col. Donald C. Thomas Jr., USAF, Retired (2015)

Suzanne Upjohn DeLano Parish (1994)


Suzanne Upjohn DeLano Parish was born in New York City, New York in 1922. She is noted for her daring, courageous spirit and is a true pioneer of women in aviation. 

After spending her early childhood in France, Sue moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1929, taking her first flying lesson at Austin Lake Airport from aviation pioneer Irving Woodhams, at age 18. Determined to participate in the war effort through flying, Sue contacted the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), only to be told she was not old enough. After receiving her commercial license, instrument rating and instructor's rating, she was notified that a place in the next WASP class would be hers if she could pass the physical on her 21st birthday.

Joining the WASP 44-W-6 class in 1944, she was sent upon graduation to the Army Airforce Instrument Instruction School in Bryan, Texas. At a time when women aviators were not welcomed there, she completed her training and was asked to stay on, becoming a back-to-service test pilot for the AT-6. Her duties included testing new navigational aids, training combat pilots sent back to learn new instrument techniques, test flying repaired AT-6's to make sure they were airworthy, and slow flying new aircraft to check their engine operation.

Stymied in her bid for an aviation career upon the disbandment of the WASPs, Sue left aviation only to return to civilian flying after almost 15 years, with the purchase of a single-engine 35C Bonanza. Enjoying a shared enthusiasm for World War II planes with her husband, their collection of planes grew to include a restored P-40N Warhawk, which Sue flew for many years on the airshow circuit performing acrobatics. In partnership with her husband, the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, a living history of World War II aviation, was opened in 1979.

Suzanne Upjohn DeLano Parish was enshrined on October 22, 1994 as a pioneer of women in aviation and for her love and dedication to preserving aviation history. She passed away May 13, 2010.


Suzanne Upjohn DeLano Parish (1994)

Dr. Richard Upjohn Light (2012)


Dr. Richard Upjohn Light was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1902. He completed high school education at Culver Military Academy in 1920 and entered Yale University where he received his undergraduate degree in 1924. He enrolled in the University of Michigan's medical school shortly thereafter, earning his medical degree in 1928. 

Light had an early interest in aviation, having taken his first flight with a barnstormer over the Kalamazoo area in 1919. He then took flying lessons at Ypsilanti Air Field while attending medical school at U of M. Postponing his residency, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps for a year, qualifying as a pilot in 1929. He bought a small plane which he flew in his free time, flying to Panama and all over Mexico, becoming known as "the flying doctor."

By 1934, Light had determined to undertake an adventurous around-the-world flight. Through the State Department he obtained permission, which took six months, to fly over 28 foreign countries. With Yale friend Robert Wilson, Light took off from New Haven, Connecticut on August 20, 1934 in a single-engine, float-equipped Bellanca Skyrocket. Their flight would cover over 29,000 miles and take five months, ending in Long Island on January 24, 1935. Their route took them to Iceland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, India, Thailand, Malaya, Java, Borneo and the Philippines. Light took the opportunity to stop and observe important neurosurgical clinics along the way. Because of distance, they shipped the plane across the Pacific to Vancouver and flew on from there. Light would later say, "Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, had done it and I figured that I could also."

In 1937, Light and his then-wife, Mary, bought a new Bellanca monoplane powered by a 550 horsepower engine for a 35,000 mile, four-month flight over Central America, South America and Africa. Mary acted as a co-pilot, radio operator and photographer. They flew along the west coast of South America over the Andes to Rio de Janeiro, and then sailed to Cape Town, South Africa. From the air, they photographed the geography of Africa extensively, often flying repeatedly back to key sites to obtain the best possible photographs. Their plane was badly damaged in Corsica by a hanger collapse, and the journey ended there. Their photos and report were published by the American Geographical Society as a book entitled "Focus on Africa," which received high praise and was used in college courses for years.

Light retired from flying to concentrate on his medical career and civic improvement. He served as president of the American Geographical Society from 1947 to 1955. He passed away in 1994.

Dr. Richard Upjohn Light was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 19, 2012.

Dr. Richard Upjohn Light  (2012)

Col. Samuel M. Ursini, USAF, Retired (2018)


Colonel Samuel Ursini was born in Detroit on June 2, 1933. He graduated from the University of Detroit High School in 1951 and attended the University of Detroit, where he was a four-year varsity baseball player and where he was elected student council president. He graduated from the University of Detroit in 1955 as an Air Force ROTC second lieutenant. He was awarded Air Force navigator wings in 1956 at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas, and assigned as a radar intercept officer to the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hamilton AFB, California.

In 1957, Ursini participated in the only live firing of the nuclear Genie MB-1 air-to-air rocket. He was aboard one of four aircraft from his squadron that flew through the nuclear cloud to test crew nuclear susceptibility. He graduated from Ground Weapons Controller training in 1961 and served as Weapons Director for the San Francisco Air Defense Sector, Beale AFB, California.

In 1964, he was selected for top secret experimental flight testing of the YF-12, prototype of the SR-71 Blackbird, at Edwards Air Force Base and Area 51. As flight control officer, flying with pilot Jim Eastham, he was aboard the first flight that hit Mach 3.2 in the YF-12. He was the third aviator in the Air Force to exceed Mach 3. He and pilot Vern Henderson were the first to launch an AIM-47 missile from the YF-12, scoring a direct hit on a target drone 60,000 feet below. He was the first to test the YF-12 pulse Doppler radar system against an SR-71 flying at Mach 3.2 at 80,000 feet with a successful intercept.

In 1970, he was transferred to Vietnam as an intelligence officer. He flew 190 combat missions in the F-4E Phantom. From 1972 to 1974 he was stationed at Air Defense Headquarters in Colorado Springs as Plans & Programs Officer, where he was promoted to Colonel. He was awarded Master Navigator wings, the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and twelve Air Medals.

Colonel Ursini retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1976 and joined Grumman Aerospace. In 1980, he joined the Fairchild Republic Corporation as VP for advanced programs. Also in 1980, Ursini helped form a new company, Global Analytics, which later merged with Lockheed. He retired from Lockheed in 1986. Colonel Ursini accumulated 4,500 hours flight time and flew in more than twenty different aircraft types.

Colonel Samuel M. Ursini was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 21, 2018, for his many years of service to the Air Force, his pioneering work in the development of advanced aircraft and systems, and his contributions as a civilian to the advancement of American air power.


Col. Samuel M. Ursini, USAF, Retired (2018)

Peter J. VandenBosch (2014)


After service as a radio operator and gunner on a B-24 Liberator in World War II, Peter J. VandenBosch returned the United States and embarked on a successful career in broadcasting, eventually owning several radio stations and related businesses. After retiring, Peter and his wife, Joan, purchased a home in Florida and planned on living out their retirement traveling the country in an RV and fishing on the 25-ft Tiara fishing boat they'd recently acquired. 

In 1990, after several years of retirement, VandenBosch was standing on the deck of his fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico when he heard a voice, almost as if someone was standing next to him, say "Peter, there is more to life than this". This cathartic experience started things in motion for what would eventually become an aviation-focused humanitarian organization that would change thousands of lives.

After telling his wife about his experience on the boat, she insisted they return to Holland, MI so he could pursue whatever higher purpose lay ahead for him. They relocated back to Michigan, and three months later an associate Peter had co- owned an airplane with 20 years earlier called, out of the blue, and asked if he would be willing to use his current aircraft to transport low-income patients to medical centers for free. When he told his wife about the call, she looked at him and said "There's your calling". Peter began providing flights, and, realizing this was his "higher calling", eventually founded the Holland, MI-based non-profit "Wings of Mercy" organization. Peter J. VandenBosch passed away October 15, 2014.

"Wings of Mercy" is an all-volunteer organization of pilots, nurses and others who provide free air transportation for patients with limited financial resources. From its humble beginnings, the organization has grown to encompass three chapters, 200 volunteers and 67 aircraft at its disposal. Since 1991, "Wings of Mercy" has flown over 7,000 missions, linking low-income patients with critical specialized treatment options that would otherwise be an impossibility. For more information on "Wings of Mercy", visit www.WingsOfMercy.org.

Peter J. VandenBosch (2014)

J. David VanderVeen, AAE (2017)

John David VanderVeen, is the American Association of Airport Executives longest serving accredited airport executive. He has provided Michigan's aviation industry with innovative leadership for over 50 years, and few equal him in excellence of service within the industry. He is responsible for all airport and aviation issues in Oakland County, and provides leadership at the state level as a member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, where he served as chairman in 2012 and 2013. As a charter member of the Michigan Business Aviation Association (since 1995), Mr. VanderVeen has championed multiple state-wide aviation-based initiatives, including a $1.2 billion program focused on improving Michigan s airports.

As Director of Central Services for Oakland County, Mr. VanderVeen oversees the operations of three general aviation airports including Michigan's second busiest, Oakland County International Airport (OCIA). Under Mr. VanderVeen's leadership and his implementation of a master plan to take OCIA into the 21st Century, OCIA has become Michigan's premiere general aviation airport. In 2011, he constructed the United States first Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold certified general aviation terminal, which utilizes geothermal heating and cooling, solar and wind electric energy, solar water heating, and other eco-friendly technologies that have reduced the airport's energy consumption by 45 percent. Other advances include the installation of Michigan's first airport-wide fuel-water separation system, which protects the headwaters of southeast Michigan s five river watershed and local ground water from contamination due to aviation fuel spills. In addition to his forward-thinking infrastructure and operational improvements at OCIA, it is equally impressive that in over 50 years under his leadership, the airport has yet to close once due to snow. As a result, OCIA has won a number of international awards for snow and ice removal.

In looking towards the Oakland County Community, Mr. VanderVeen undertook an aggressive 11-year noise abatement program to protect nearby homes from aircraft engine noise. This included the construction of the world s first aesthetic ground run up enclosure for maintaining jet engines, which earned the National Association of Counties Innovative Program that Enhances Government Award in 2006. His airport beautification efforts have resulted in Keep Michigan Beautiful awards in 1999, 2002, and 2011, and he hosts an annual airport open-house and airshow to engage with the local community and introduce them to aviation operations. OCIA operates independently of Oakland County's general fund, and contributes $175 million to the region s economy each year.

In addition to his role within the airports of Oakland County, Mr. VanderVeen also manages the county s fleet of 800 vehicles and its mail, printing, record retention, and food services. He is also the vice-chairman of the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission and serves as Oakland County's representative to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University. He lives in Clarkston, Michigan with his wife Shelagh, and has four children and eight grandchildren.

For his substantial dedication to further aviation and aviation infrastructure in Michigan, J. David VanderVeen extols the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

J. David VanderVeen, AAE (2017)

Alfred V. Verville (1991)


Alfred Victor Verville was born on November 16, 1890 in Atlantic Mine, Michigan. His career as an aircraft designer and builder spanned nearly 50 years, during which his genius and vision enabled him to influence the advancement of aviation during its formative years. 

Verville joined Curtiss Airplane Company in 1914, and he aided in the design of many Curtiss planes, including the first "Jenny" training plane, and the Curtiss F Flying Boat. In 1915 he organized the General Airplane Company in Detroit, Michigan, producing the Verville Flying Boat and the Verville Twin Float Pusher. After WWI broke out, Verville joined the U.S. Army Service. In 1920 the young engineer gained national prominence when his Verville-Packard Racer won the first Pulitzer Speed Classic Trophy. After touring Europe with General Billy Mitchell to assess the development of aviation there, Verville was asked by General Mitchell to design an airplane for the Air Service entry in the 1922 National Air Races. Verville designed the Verville-Sperry Racer. This plane was one of the first airplanes with retractable landing gear. Though it did not win the race, with some adjustments, it flew away with the 1924 Pulitzer Speed Trophy. The true importance of the Racer design was recognized in 1961, when it was selected as one of the twelve most significant aircraft of all time.

In 1925, he organized the Buhl-Aircraft Company, producing the Buhl-Verville Airster. In 1927 he organized the Verville Aircraft Company, producing the Verville Coach, AT Trainer, and YPT-10. He served as engineer and consultant with Douglas, Curtiss Wright, and Snead aircraft companies, and Drexel Aviation, and he contributed 16 years of service to the Federal government, primarily with the Bureau of Aeronautics, before retiring in 1961.

Verville has been honored with ten Certificates or Letters of Commendation from the U.S. Armed Forces. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and was named an Elder Statesmen of Aviation in 1956. He held eight aeronautical patents. In 1985 a commemorative air mail postage stamp was issued in his honor.

Verville was enshrined October 26, 1991, for his contributions to aeronautical development. He was truly a pioneering giant in American aviation.

Alfred V. Verville (1991)

Maj. Gen. Hal W. Vincent, USMC, Retired (2010)


Maj. Gen. Hal W. Vincent was born in Pontiac, Michigan on September 24, 1927. He graduated from Otsego High School in 1945 and attended Western Michigan College (now Western Michigan University) and Colgate University. In 1946 he entered the U.S. Naval Academy. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1950, he was commissioned a Marine 2nd lieutenant and attended The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. Vincent then served as a rifle and machine gun platoon commander with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. In 1952, he was assigned to flight training and was promoted to 1st lieutenant. 

In April 1953, Vincent completed flight training, was designated a naval aviator and was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 214 in El Toro, California. He was then transferred overseas for duty with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Korea. He flew with Marine Fighter Squadron 115 and served as assistant operations officer of Marine Aircraft Group 13. In 1954, he was promoted to captain.

After Vincent returned to the U.S. in 1955, he underwent test pilot training and then served as a test pilot in the flight test division in Patuxent River, Maryland through 1958. He served for two years with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in El Toro as assistant operations officer of Marine Fighter Squadrons 334 and 451. During this time, he also attended the Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

From 1960 to 1962, Vincent was assigned to China Lake, California as conventional weapons project officer and test pilot with Air Development Squadron 5. He was promoted to major in 1961 and reassigned to El Toro in 1962 as executive officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, the Marines' first F4 squadron. He deployed with the squadron to Atsugi, Japan in 1963.

In 1965, he was the aviation member of the Amphibious Warfare Presentation Team, which operated from Quantico. He assumed duties as assistant chief of the Aviation Branch at the Education Center in 1966. During the tour he was awarded a Certificate of Equivalency for completion of the Command and Staff College, and promoted to lieutenant colonel. From 1967 to 1968, Vincent was commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, Marine Aircraft Group-32, in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Vincent attended and completed the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. in 1969. Afterwards, he served in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing as executive officer of Marine Aircraft Group 13, based in Chu Lai. During the tour, he flew 242 combat missions in eight types of fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft.

He was promoted to colonel in August 1970, and the following month, was transferred to Hawaii, where he served as officer-in-charge of the Aviation Maintenance/Management Branch, G-4 (Logistics) Section, Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.

From 1972 to 1973, Vincent served as commanding officer of Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training Group 10, in Yuma, Arizona. He returned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in July 1973, and assumed duty as chief of staff. He was advanced to brigadier general on February 27, 1976 and assigned duties as deputy chief of staff, Plans and Policy, Joint Exercises, commander in chief, Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia on June 29, 1976. In May 1978, he was advanced to major general and assigned duty as commanding general, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS, Cherry Point, in June 1978. He assumed duty as deputy commander, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Norfolk, Virginia, in August 1980. Vincent served in this assignment until his retirement on May 1, 1981.

Vincent was the first Marine to fly Mach 2 and flew 242 combat missions in eight different aircraft over Vietnam. He earned a total of 18 combat awards-including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medals. He is the only pilot to have flight tested or flown every active duty jet fighter in each service (165 aircraft types flown through his retirement) and graduated from all three military services' fighter weapons schools. He received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2005 and was listed in Who's Who in the World every year since 1980.

Hal W. Vincent was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 2010. He passed away April 28, 2015.

Maj. Gen. Hal W. Vincent, USMC, Retired (2010)

Mary von Mach (1987)


Mary von Mach was a pioneer woman pilot of many accomplishments. She was issued Michigan's first women's pilots license, No. 4117, on October 11, 1928. 

Her flying abilities were recognized by the Federation Aeronautique International, and she was presented an Aviator's Certificate, No. 7215 on August 9, 1929 signed by Orville Wright. Von Mach was the first woman to own and operate an airplane in the state. Mary flew in the first All Women's Cross Country Air Derby in August of 1929. She was the first woman to be accepted at the Parks Air College in St. Louis where she graduated in 1931; in the same year, she became the first woman to be awarded an air transport pilots license. She obtained her flight instructors rating in 1931. She was responsible for the final inspection of the Pratt-Whitney engines that powered the B-24 bombers.

Von Mach was honored in December of 1942 by the War Congress of American Industry for "all she did to help build America in the past and who now plays such a vital role in war production, her production achievements, safety and heroics."

In 1929, von Mach became a Charter member of the Ninety-Nines. She was one of eight women pilots that formed the Michigan chapter in 1934. She held many offices at state and national levels. In 1978, she received the coveted Bronze Star Award from the OX-5 Pioneers.

Von Mach was enshrined on December 17, 1987 into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame for her piloting abilities, for working to establish professionalism and safety standers, and for pioneering careers for women in aviation. In spite of all of von Mach's firsts, she was a quiet, unassuming person who opened the doors to aviation and created opportunities for the women of today. To this end, this award is most solemnly and respectfully dedicated.

Mary von Mach (1987)

Maj. Gen. Leigh Wade, USAF, Retired (1994)


Maj. Gen. Leigh Wade was born February 2, 1897, in Cassopolis, Michigan. A gifted pilot, he dedicated his career to the advancement of aviation through the testing of new and improved aircraft and equipment. 

Initially enlisting in the North Dakota National Guard at age 19, he transferred to the Signal Corps and received flight training from the Royal Canadian Air Force and advanced combat training in France. Flying such airplanes as Nieuport, Caudron, Sopwith, and captured German bombers, Wade made acceptance tests of warplanes in Paris until his assignment to McCook Field, Ohio, in 1919. At McCook he served as chief test pilot, setting an altitude record of 27,120 feet in 1921, and a three-man altitude record of 23,350 feed in 1922.

Wade was chosen to participate in the first attempt of a round-the-world flight by four Douglas World Cruisers as pilot of the "Boston." Though his plane was forced down with engine problems, Wade and his co-pilot later rejoined the flight in Nova Scotia in the "Boston II." The historic flight successfully ended in Seattle having covered 27,000 miles in 175 days.
Resigning from the Air Service in 1926, Wade spent his time as chief test pilot for Consolidated Aircraft Corporation and pioneering development of aviation in South America.

Wade returned to Army Air Services in 1941, serving first with the Air Intelligence Section and the 1st Bomb Group. Next he served as commander of the Batista Field in Cuba until the end of World War II. After the war, he became Air Attache to Greece and Brazil and served as chief of the air section on the joint Brazil-United States Military Commission until he retired as a major general in 1955. Leigh Wade, age 94, died on August 31, 1991.

Wade was enshrined on October 22, 1994, for his military and civilian contributions to aviation, and his years of devotion to aeronautical advancements.

Maj. Gen. Leigh Wade, USAF, Retired (1994)

Maj. David Wakefield, USAF, Retired (2013)


Maj. David Wakefield was born in Poland, Ohio on April 28, 1922 and graduated from Western High School in Detroit in 1941. After hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor and as the United State's involvement in World War II increased, Wakefield's life drastically changed. 

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on July 15, 1942, and received his private pilot certificate at Pontiac Airport in October 1942. Wakefield then trained as a glider and fighter pilot, earning certifications in each. He served in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps on active duty and was trained under the Thomason Act, which authorized the government to select 1,000 of the best ROTC graduates who wished to apply for a year's Army training. Wakefield was deployed to China in February 1944 as a member of the 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Group, 14th Air Force. Upon his arrival, he was personally interviewed by Gen. Claire Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers. After discontinuance of the American Volunteer Group, the press and the airmen continued to refer to pilots in the area as Flying Tigers.

On his seventh mission, Wakefield was shot down while strafing behind enemy lines on Thanksgiving Day in 1944, but made it back to his home base with the help of Chinese soldiers. He was the only pilot who ever returned after being shot down in the 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Group. In 1945, Wakefield became a fixed-wing pilot instructor and instructed Chinese pilot candidates in India.

Wakefield flew 47 combat missions overall, both in China and Burma, while flying P-40, P-51 and P-47 aircraft. He then served as a flight instructor to Chinese pilot candidates in Karachi, India. Wakefield was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross along with the Army Air Corp Air Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal and the Chinese Air Medal.

In 1962, Wakefield received his helicopter rating at the U.S. Army Primary Helicopter School in Mineral Wells, Texas. In the years following the war, he joined the Michigan Air National Guard and flew with it for more than 25 years. He logged more than 4,200 hours of flight time as pilot-in-command and retired from the military in 1975 as a senior pilot with the rank of Major.

Following his military retirement, Wakefield owned an electronics business in the Detroit area for many years and was an avid sports enthusiast. After retiring from his business, he and his wife Rita moved to Fairfield Glade, Tennessee to enjoy his love of golf and mountain living. Following his return to Michigan to be near his sons and family, Wakefield volunteered at the Air Zoo for 12 years. He was much respected for his dedication and special ability to relate to visitors of all ages, especially children. In 2011, Wakefield received the Volunteer of the Year Award for his outstanding service to the Air Zoo. He passed away on June 23, 2012 at the age of 90.

Maj. David Wakefield, USAF, Retired (2013)

Richard I. "Dick" Ward (2019)


Richard I. Ward was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 14, 1927. With an early love of flying, Dick earned his pilot’s license at the age of 17, and graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.  

During World War II, despite being accepted for Army pilot training and having been sworn in, Dick was tendered a discharge as the quota for pilots had been filled. He promptly re-enlisted in the Navy as a Combat Air Crew Flight Engineer and served as a PBM-5 Engineer in Panama. He was honorably discharged in 1947.

In 1949, Dick married Donna Wilson, his wife of 58 years, and moved to Three Rivers, Michigan. He became the manager and Fixed Base Operator at the Three Rivers Municipal Airport and started his company, Ward Aero, which developed, manufactured, overhauled, and marketed products for aviation use. Dick was well known in the industry for his honesty and integrity. In 1977, Ward Aero was sold to Parker-Hannifin Corporation. Dick then formed Forward Horizons, an aviation consulting firm.

One of Dick’s favorite activities was time spent with the Twin Bonanza Society. He authored the book, “Beechcraft Twin Bonanza, Craft of the Masters” and was considered an expert on that airplane. A strong advocate for the city of Three Rivers, Dick served on community boards and committees and was an active Rotarian, being named a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a great supporter of the Air Zoo, volunteering to pilot the historic Ford Tri-Motor, among others.

Dick was presented with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot and Master Mechanic Awards, and was a founder of the Kalamazoo Hangar of the Quiet Birdmen. Dick recounted his many life achievements, and aviation experiences, in his book “Flying Thoughts: An Aviator’s Flight Through Life”.  Dick Ward passed away May 16, 2008.

For his contributions to the aviation industry and service to his country and community, Dick Ward embodies the virtues of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Richard I. “Dick” Ward (2019)

Col. Robert F. Warren, USMC, Retired (2011)


Col. Robert F. Warren was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1923 and went on to join Helicopter Experimental Squadron One in Quantico, Virginia where he instructed marine fixed-wing pilots transitioning to helicopters at the outbreak of the Korean War. Warren was one of three original officers assigned to Helicopter Squadron 161 (HMR-161), the first U.S. Military all-helicopter squadron.

Seven months after receiving its first helicopter, HMR-161 embarked on the USS Sitkoh Bay for Korea. Using the ship's machine shops on route to Korea, Warren helped design and manufacture external sling hoists and quick-loading external cargo hooks which became the norm for helicopter operations for years to come. 

Warren was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for Operation Blackbird, a night combat operation executed in complete darkness and considered the most hazardous by HMR-161 during its entire Korean combat tour.
On February 8, 1952, he rescued a downed pilot 40 miles behind enemy lines for which he was award a second Distinguished Flying Cross. In 14 years of helicopter flying, he never had a single accident, although he experienced complete engine failure twice. Both times he auto rotated to a safe landing.

Back in the U.S., Warren was promoted to major and selected as aide-de-camp to Medal of Honor winner Gen. Christian Schilt, USMC. Upon Schilt's retirement in 1957, Warren returned to Santa Ana where he joined HMM-363. He was in charge of a three helicopter special mission which transported President Dwight Eisenhower from the San Francisco International Airport to the Presidio.

In the U.S., he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and served as a helicopter tactics instructor in the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico for the next four years. He was then transferred to the Marine Corps Air Station in Beauford, S.C. to transition to flying fixed-wing jets. Upon completion, he was assigned as commanding officer, Marine Attack Squadron-331 (VMA-331). Warren is the only pilot to have commanded both a Marine Corps helicopter squadron (HMH-363) and a Marine Corps jet attack squadron (VMA-331).

In June of 1968, he returned to California in command of a Marine helicopter air group comprising seven squadrons and more than 5,000 Marines. He retired in September, 1969 after 27 years of active duty flying. From 1981 to 1987 he was recalled to active duty and ordered to the Pentagon six times to serve on an advisory committee for the Secretary of the Navy.
Col. Robert F. Warren was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on May 21, 2011.


Col. Robert F. Warren, USMC, Retired (2011)

Cody Welch (2021)

Born on August 5th, 1951, Cody’s interest in aviation came from his father, a World War II pilot, Commuter Airline and FBO Owner, and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. When Cody earned his private license at age 17, his father was his examiner.

Cody Welch earned his commercial and instrument rating on his 18th birthday. He later earned his flight instructor ratings and aircraft and power plant mechanic’s license. Cody retired as pilot and flight instructor for Northwest Airlines after 23 years and has amassed 38,000 hours flown, having flown 400 types of airplanes. In 2017, Cody received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, having flown more than 50 years accident free. Cody volunteered to fly the EAA’s Ford Trimotors throughout the continental United States with 50,000 passengers flown on more than 7,500 flights. He served 3 terms on the EAA Board of Directors, served on EAA’s Safety Committee, was Chair of the EAA’s Chapter and Young Eagles Board Committee, and Chair of the EAA’s Ford Trimotor ride program. Cody received the EAA President’s Award and Volunteer of the Year honors in 2003.

In 1975, Cody founded Seaco Airlines with service from Alpena to Oscoda, Cadillac, and Chicago.

In 1995, Cody founded Wings of Mercy East Michigan where he, and other pilots, volunteer their time to fly patients to medical centers for treatment. Cody currently serves as Chief Pilot on Yankee Air Museum’s Ford Trimotor in Ypsilanti. Cody has led efforts to save two endangered airports from permanent closure: Linden Price Airport, where he has served as Airport Manager since 2000, and Midland Barstow.

For his dedication and contributions to general aviation in Michigan and across the country, and for his tireless support and advocacy of aviation, Cody Welch is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Marion "Babe" Weyant Ruth (1988)


Marion "Babe" Weyant Ruth was born in Lansing, Michigan on February 7, 1918. As a pioneer woman aviator, she recorded as well as participated in Michigan's rich aviation history. 

As a young girl, Ruth became well known around Capital City Airport. At the age of 13, she took her first ride in a WACO Taperwing. Urged on by a letter from Amelia Earhart, Ruth began flying lessons at the age of 16 and soon became known for her flying skills. During World War II, she was one of the few civilian women selected to teach instrument flying to military pilots using the legendary Link Trainer. Ruth celebrated her 50th anniversary of receiving her pilot's license, having amassed over 10,000 hours in the air and having taught hundreds of students to fly.

Numerous honors have been bestowed upon Ruth, including the International Flying Farmer Piper Award for Women-Most Honors, presented by W.T. Piper. In addition, the OX-5 Club of America named her a "Pioneer Woman Pilot" and the Smithsonian Institution included her in "Women in Aviation."

Ruth was not only one of Michigan's aviation pioneers; she was also recognized as an aviation historian. Through her efforts, Michigan's aviation history has been recorded for the benefit of future generations.
Ruth was enshrined on October 14, 1988 for her contributions to aviation as a pioneer woman aviator and aviation historian.

Marion "Babe" Weyant Ruth (1988)

Virgil Williams (2021)

Flying has been Virgil’s passion all his life. He started his aviation journey sweeping hangar floors to earn enough money to pay for flight instruction and pursued every aviation job and opportunity available.

At the 1953 National Intercollegiate Flying Association, Virgil placed 1st and 2nd in numerous events and was awarded the trophy for Outstanding Male Pilot. 

He joined Sinclair Oil Corporation as a corporate pilot in 1955 and then, in 1959, he joined the Upjohn Company as Chief Pilot and Director of Aviation. Virgil was instrumental in moving Upjohn aviation into the jet age. When Upjohn began an internship program with WMU Aviation in the 1970s, Virgil served on the Citation Advisory Board. From 1986 to 1994, he served on the National Business Aviation Association Board of Directors. During his 35 years with Upjohn, Virgil flew over 23,000 hours, visited all 50 states, and circled the Earth. 

After retirement, Virgil was a captain for Jack Nicklaus and Julio and Enrique Iglesias and helped form the Michigan Business Aviation Association in 1998. For 18 years, Virgil has volunteered his time as the Airport Manager of the Plainwell Municipal Airport and has spearheaded several efforts to meet FAA regulations and enhancements that increase the safety. Virgil is also a co-founder of the Plainwell Aviation and STEM Academy.

In 2005, Virgil was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in recognition of 50 years of safe flying. In 2008, the Virgil and Maurine Williams Family Aviation Endowed Scholarship was established a the WMU College of Aviation. In 2019, Virgil was inducted into Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation Hall of Honor. 

For his dedication and contributions to aviation, and for his enduring legacy as one of Michigan’s most distinguished pilots, Virgil Williams is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Dr. Sam B. Williams (1992)


Dr. Sam B. Williams was born in Seattle, Washington in 1921. He is noted for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of small turbine engines for corporate and military aircraft. 

Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1942, and in 1982 he received an honorary doctorate, also from Purdue.
Dr. Williams joined the Chrysler Corporation's engineering division in 1942, where he played a key role in the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of one of the first turboprop engines for the U.S. Navy.

Dr. Williams founded Williams Research Corporation in 1954 (to become Williams International Corporation in 1981) initially developing small marine and gas turbines. In the 1960s and early 1970s, miniature Williams jet engines powered military target and surveillance aircraft, and Williams automotive gas turbines powered Army Jeeps and experimental automobiles, which were contracted with Williams by some of the world's leading automotive companies.

Williams Research Corp. was selected by the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and the Navy in 1976 to develop engines from their cruise missiles. In 1985, Williams International developed the new 1900 lb. thrust FJ44 fanjet engine, which because of its size, weight, and low cost, made a new category of small, low operating cost business jets feasible.

Dr. Williams has been credited with setting the standards for small turbine engine manufacturing, holding 76 U.S. patents. He took an active part in the corporation's technical programs in addition to his management duties. Williams International has developed fanjet engines for business aircraft and trainers, various turbojet and turbo-fan engines for missiles and target aircraft, and turboshaft engines for vehicle, stationary, and aircraft auxiliary applications.

In 1978, Dr. Williams received the Collier Trophy for "developing the world's smallest fanjet engine." In 1988, he received the Wright Brothers Memorial trophy for his pioneering work in aircraft propulsion.
Dr. Williams was enshrined on November 7, 1992 for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of propulsion engines. He passed away June 22, 2009 in Indian Hills, California at age 88.

Dr. Sam B. Williams (1992)

Irving T. Woodhams, Sr. (2016)

1898 - 1993

Irving T. Woodhams was born on August 8, 1898, in Kalamazoo County and caught the "aviation bug" on his first airplane ride as a young man in 1924. After landing, Irving was certain he wanted to fly for a living, and this early passion for flight blossomed into an aviation career spanning nearly six decades. A modest man, Irving was well respected for his skill as a pilot and was nationally known as a top-notch aviator and flight instructor. As an instructor, he taught hundreds, if not thousands, of people how to fly, and passed his love for aviation on to notable pilots such as Air Zoo co-founder and former WASP, Sue Parish, and Civil Air Patrol Pilot and FAA inspector Eloise Smith, who instructed Navy seaplane pilots during World War II.

Irving learned to fly shortly after that first flight in 1924, and spent the rest of his life involved in most facets of aviation. Whether flying, instructing students, managing airports, or building and renovating airplanes, Woodhams' attention to detail and keen professionalism earned him a stellar reputation within the national aviation community. Considered a superior pilot, he logged more than 14,000 accident-free hours in the air and held an active pilot license until the age of 85. His original license, received in 1926, (the year pilots were first required to be licensed) was signed by Orville Wright, the chairman of the National Aeronautic Association of America at the time. It is currently on display at the Air Zoo.
Woodhams was the first pilot to take off on a solo flight from Charles A. Lindbergh Field in 1924, which was located on the current site of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. The land was formerly farmland owned by Irving's father. "He was flying here before there was an airport," says Donald Woodhams, Irving's son, in a past interview. "He used to fly around my grandfather's [Alfred Woodhams] farm, which was about where the [original Air Zoo building] is. Then the city bought the property and made the airport. My father was the first manager." The City of Kalamazoo purchased Lindbergh field in 1926 and asked Irving to manage the new facility. Mr. Woodhams was known for his meticulous care of the runways and buildings, and the airport became well established under his management. This once small airport has evolved into the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport we know today. After several years as manager of the Kalamazoo Municipal Airport, Irving and his wife, Dorothy (Zuidema) Woodhams, also a professional commercial and private pilot, owned and operated the Austin Lake Airport and Seaplane Base from 1938 until their retirement in 1963. For a time, the Austin Lake Airport was the only seaplane base in Michigan. "He developed that airport training Navy students who were continuing on in aviation. That's what he did during the war," said Donald Woodhams. "Doing everything correctly was a real bug with him." Irving, known for his attention to detail, ensured that the planes flying out of his airports had perfect safety records, a remarkable feat for the time.
Because of his great contributions towards furthering aviation in Michigan, his pioneering spirit, world-class instruction, and superior skills as a pilot, Irving T. Woodhams embodies the virtue and qualities extolled by the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

Irving T. Woodhams Sr. (2016)

Col. Alfred M. Worden, USAF, Retired (1990)


Col. Alfred M. Worden was born in Jackson, Michigan on February 7, 1932. As one of few chosen to travel to the moon, his accomplishments as a pilot, astronaut, and engineer are milestones on man's quest for the stars. 

Graduating from West Point in 1955, he became an Air Force officer, obtaining his pilot wings and qualified as a jet fighter pilot. Entering the University of Michigan in 1961, he graduated in 1963 with two masters degrees: aeronautical/astronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering. Returning to flight duty, he completed the Empire Test Pilots School, Farnborough, England in February and U.S. Aerospace Research Pilots School in September of 1965. In April 1966 he was selected by NASA as one of 19 astronauts.

Worden was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9 and backup command module pilot for the Apollo 12. He then flew as command module pilot on Apollo 15, the fourth manned lunar landing mission. During return to earth he made the first EVA (space walk) while not in Earth's orbit to recover film from the Scientific Instrument Module. He later served as backup command module pilot for Apollo 17, the final Apollo mission.

Assigned to NASA Ames Research Center in 1972, Worden was senior aerospace scientist until 1973 then chief of the Systems Studies Division. Completing his Air Force and NASA careers in 1975, he became a consultant to Northwood Institute and the State of Florida. In 1982, he established his own business company, to develop and test a stall warning device to improve flight safety. In 1990, he returned to Michigan as general manager of JET Electronics and Technology Inc. of Grand Rapids.

He has received numerous honors throughout his career including the United Nations Peace Medal, the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award, the 1972 Collier Trophy, Belgium's Order of Leopold, and many others.

Worden was enshrined on September 15, 1990 for his dedication to the advancement of flight as a pilot, astronaut, and engineer.

Col. Alfred M. Worden, USAF, Retired (1990)

Maj. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith, USAAF (2013)


Maj. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith was born on August 9, 1906 and grew up in Detroit. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Detroit. 

Wurtsmith enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1927, was commissioned second lieutenant in the Air Reserve and awarded his wings in 1928.

He was assigned to the famous World War I Hat-in-the-Ring 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field in Michigan. In 1929, he won the Mitchell Trophy Air Race for topping out at 152.17 mph over Cleveland, Ohio. Wurtsmith graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School in 1939 and was promoted to major. He then took command of the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 50th Pursuit Group.

In early 1942, Wurtsmith, in command of the 49th Fighter Group, led the group to Darwin, Australia to join the desperate defense against Japanese attack. He developed tactics using the strengths of the P-40 Warhawk which resulted in success in Australia.

As a colonel, Wurtsmith took command of the 5th Fighter Command in New Guinea. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1943 for his outstanding leadership. In 1945, he was promoted to major general and given command of the 13th Air Force which supported the 8th Army in the southern Philippines and the Royal Australian Air Force in Borneo. The Army awarded Wurtsmith the Distinguished Service Medal and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his actions in World War II.

Wurtsmith returned to the U.S. in 1946 and was assigned to Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, and was an observer at the nuclear weapons test at Bikini Atoll. He then became commander of the 8th Air Force.

On September 13, 1946, Wurtsmith was killed instantly when his B-25 Mitchell crashed near Asheville, North Carolina. In 1953, Oscoda Army Air Field in Michigan was renamed Wurtsmith Air Force Base in his honor. At the dedication, Gen. Thomas White said that Wurtsmith was "probably the best fighter pilot and fighter tactician in all of World War II."



Maj. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith, USAAF (2013)

Frederick Zinn (2021)

Frederick Zinn was born in Galesburg, Michigan on February 4th, 1892. Zinn graduated from the University of Michigan in 1914 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, after which he decided to travel the world.

Zinn enlisted in the French Foreign Legion on August 24th, 1914, as one of the first 42 American volunteers. Zinn carried his camera with him to the trenches. While war correspondents and photographers were not permitted near the front, Zinn was a soldier with a camera and was able to take and sell numerous Frontline photographs.

During the Champagne campaign in October of 1915, Zinn was wounded by a shell fragment. After his release from the hospital in 1916, Zinn transferred to the French Air Service as a bombardier-gunner, then reassigned to reconnaissance. On October 12th, 1917, Sergeant Zinn left the French Air Service to transition to the US Army Air Service, as a Lafayette Flying Corps, becoming the first American Aviation Combat Photographer. Zinn was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm and star and two citations.

As a Captain, Zinn handled all American airmen assigned to the Front. After the war, Zinn wanted to find and bring home the remains of missing airmen. Over the next six months, he helped locate and identify the remains of 70 of the 150 American fliers. During World War II, Zinn created the Missing Air Crew Report System, used to recover the remains of hundreds of airmen during World War II and is still in use today.

After the war, Zinn served time in the Reserves, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and founded the Wolverine Management Company. In 1954 he was elected to the Michigan State legislature. When Zinn died in 1960, the Lafayette Escadrille staged its First Reunion Air Show at Kellogg Regional Airfield in his honor.

For his service to our nation, his dedication, and contributions to aerial combat photography, and for pioneering efforts to search for American pilots missing in action, Frederick Zinn is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

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