The mission of the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame is to educate and inspire children and adults to discover the legacy of Idaho aviation and explore the opportunities for aerospace careers.
Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees
Dean W. Wilson
Dean Wilson has been a pilot, airplane designer and builder for several decades. He was born in 1935 in Clarkston, WA just across the border from Lewiston, ID. His pilot training began at 13. He did his mechanics training at 17. Through his career he became a certified flight instructor, multi-engine pilot, and glider pilot. In 1954 his interest in building and designing airplanes began when he built a hang glider from plans. In the late 50’s Dean’s interest turned to designing airplanes. In Eagle, ID he designed and built the prototypes for the Eagle agricultural plane that was produced by a company he formed eventually building about 100 airplanes.
Dean next designed and developed the Avid Flyer. The Flyer is a family of single engine, high-wing, light aircraft designed for kit construction. Its several variants sold in large numbers. The Flyer was a very popular design that was widely evolved to a half dozen variants still being produced by several companies 40 years later. Dean next turned to designing an amphibian and larger aircraft, one specifically to fly to the North Pole. One of these larger aircraft was the Explorer, which was essentially a flying camper. His last design was the four-place Ellipse of which only four were built probably due to the complexity of its construction for homebuilders. In 2010 he was a major contributor to building a replica of the Herring Curtiss Pusher for the Idaho Centennial of Flight, it being the first airplane to fly into Idaho. Dean’s honors include an EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame Inductee in 2010, 1998 recipient of the Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to the design of light aircraft, 1983 EAA Best New Design with the Avid Flyer and Grand Champion Antique Aircraft Association for the restoration of the 1916 Avro 504K.
Bill Dorris was born in 1921 in Roundup, MT. He began flying at 12. Bill and his brother, George, built a Pietenpol in their father’s shop that Bill “accidentally” soloed. They both taught themselves to fly. Although Bill had much flying time, he did not get his pilot’s certificate until he began training as a Naval Cadet in 1942. In WWII he served in the Marine Corps, flying PBYs in the south Pacific. After the war he served in the Marine Reserves rising to rank of Major. Bill studied engineering at Cal State, San Luis Obispo and Montana State. He went on to do crop dusting for Lynch Air Service in Montana and then worked at Boeing in Seattle for a time. In 1952 Bill came to Idaho where he took a position with Idaho Fish and Game. He developed a fish hopper for aircraft that was used in stocking mountain lakes. After 13 years he left Fish and Game to join Johnson’s Flying Service in McCall, ID. There he flew mail, people and supplies in and out of ranches in the then “Idaho Primitive Area”.
In 1976 Bill started his own McCall Air Taxi service that he operated with two of his sons, Mike and Pat until he passed away in 2000. The service flew mail, and contracted with the US Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game for flying services into the central Idaho mountains. He flew many smoke jumper, medical, rescue and search missions. He had commercial, single and multi-engine, land and sea, flight instructor and aerial applicator ratings. From 1982 to 92 Bill was a vigorous advocate for keeping the “Big Creek Four” and Wilson Bar Idaho backcountry airstrips open. He wrote many letters and worked with the Idaho congressional delegation opposing the US Forest Service’s efforts to close the strips.
Gregory "Pappy" Boyington
Pappy Boyington was born Dec. 4, 1912 in Coeur d’Alene, ID. He grew up in the logging town of St. Maries, ID and Tacoma, WA. Boyington graduated from the University of Washington in 1934 with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering. In 1936, Boyington accepted an appointment as an aviation cadet in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. On Jul. 1, 1937 he accepted a second lieutenant’s commission in the regular Marine Corps. Boyington resigned his commission in the Marine Corps on Aug. 26, 1941 to accept a position with the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famed Flying Tigers of China. In the AVG Boyington was credited with 3.5 Japanese aircraft destroyed. In the spring of 1942, he returned to the U.S. where he was re-instated in the Marine Corps as a major. He eventually became Commanding Officer (CO) of Marine Fighter Squadron 214, better known by its nickname, the “Black Sheep Squadron.”
Boyington is best known for his exploits flying the Vought F4U Corsair in VMF-214. During his squadron’s first tour of combat duty, the major shot down 14 enemy fighter planes in 32 days. By the end of 1943, he had shot down 25. He tied the American record of 26 planes on Jan. 3, 1944 over Rabaul, but was shot down later the same day. Boyington became a prisoner of war. He spent the rest of the war, 20 months, in Japanese prison camps. During mid-Aug. 1945, after the atomic bombs and the Japanese surrender, Boyington was liberated from Japanese custody. Shortly after his return to the U.S., as a lieutenant colonel, Boyington was ordered to Washington to receive the nation’s highest honor – the Medal of Honor. His MOH citation reads in part:
“Major Boyington led a formation of 24 fighters over Kahili on October 17, and, persistently circling the airdrome where 60 hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down twenty enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship …”
On Oct. 4, 1945, Boyington received the Navy Cross from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He retired from the Marines on Aug. 1, 1947 with the rank of colonel. He died on Jan. 11, 1988. In Aug. 2007, the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho airport was renamed the “Coeur d’Alene Airport-Pappy Boyington Field” in his honor.
Burt Rutan is an aeronautical engineer who has designed, developed and flight proven many innovative aerospace vehicles from light, home-built airplanes, and record-setting long-range aircraft to suborbital space-planes. He was born June 17, 1943 near Portland, Oregon and grew up in Dinuba, California. Rutan showed an early interest in aviation, designing and building his own model airplanes, and piloted his first solo flight at the age of sixteen. He majored in aeronautical engineering at California Polytechnic University, graduating 3rd in his class in 1965. In 1974 he founded the Rutan Aircraft Factory where he gained acclaim for designing airplanes that could be built at home, such as the lightweight VariEze. His designs were characterized by their unusual appearance with elevator forward (canard configuration) and the use of composite materials such as fiberglass and plastics.
In 1982 Rutan launched a second company, Scaled Composites, which created research aircraft. His fame spread worldwide in 1986 when his aircraft, Voyager, piloted by his brother, Dick Rutan, and Jeana Yeager, made the first unrefueled flight around the world. The suborbital space plane, SpaceShipOne, was developed at Scaled Composites. The craft set a new civilian altitude record of 40 miles in May 2004. Then, in October 2004, he won the $10 million Ansari X Prize by sending SpaceShipOne into suborbital flight–62 miles above Earth–twice in a two-week period. He has received dozens of awards and recognitions. Six of Burt Rutan’s aircraft are now on permanent display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Burt and his wife, Tonya, retired to Coeur d’Alene, ID in April 2011.
Gene Soper has an enthusiasm and dedication to aviation that has encouraged and enabled many. Born in 1930, his introduction to the aviation world began with his first flight at the age of four. A dozen years later he learned to fly in a new J3 Cub in McCall. His first recorded solo was in the winter of 1950, in a J3 on skis. Gene’s service to the aviaiton community has taken many forms: runway snow removal before there was a crew for airport operations at Couer d’ Alene, equipment maintenance, teaching at North Idaho College, performing and announcing for air shows across the United States, and as a guest speaker. He is known as the “Couer d’ Alene Airport Historian” and has contributed many photos, mementos, and documents to the Museum of North Idaho. He has served for many decades in various organizations including the Courer d’ Alene Air Terminal Advisory Committee and the EAA. Many flights and field trips have been hosted by him to encourage young people in aviation. His ratings include seaplane, commercial, glider, and multi-engine slong with mechanic, airframe and powerplant. Gene has been as asset and activists for aviation in Idaho and has made significant contributions as a pilot, mechanic, historian, and mentor. He lives in Athol, Idaho.
Donald L. Pape
A Boise native, Don entered the U.S. Air Force in 1950 and trained as a fighter pilot. On his 109th mission over North Korea, his F-86 Sabre Jet was downed by enemy fire. With no time to signal for assistance, Pape was taken prisoner and held in a solitary confinement in Red China. Faced with very little food as well as deplorable conditions, Pape suffered through interrogation sessions lasting for months. By refusing to sign a forced confession and presumed dead by the U.S. military, Pape was threatened with execution daily.
With a never ending faith in God and his country, Pape was finally repatriated after nearly a year weighing only 110 pounds. But his gift of a new life was neither forgotten nor left unappreciated. Pape went on to serve with the Idaho Air National Guard, as a successful Boise dentist and community advocate for many years. He was often recognized for his complimentary dental care program for the less fortunate. Never did an individual leave his office requiring health care, despite their inability to pay. After retirement in 1990, Pape continued providing dental service to the poor in Latin America. Pape was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal as well as the Idaho Statesman Distinguished Citizen Award. He and his wife Darlene have six children, eleven grandchildren and live in Boise.
Maj. Gen. Robert F Molinelli
Maj. Gen. Robert F. Molinelli (U.S. Army) was a career officer who distinguished himself in Army aviation. Bob Molinelli was a Pocatello, Idaho resident. He attended Idaho State University where he began his military career in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He received his pilot rating in 1957 from the U.S. Army. In his first combat tour, as the Armored Platoon Commander, 114th Aviation Company, Molinelli amassed almost 1,000 combat flying hours and accumulated over 20,000 military and civilian flight hours in his lifetime. Nineteen years after his first tour, he served as the Army Aviation Officer, Department of the Army. He received many awards and honors including the Distinguished Flying Cross with seven oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart with an oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with “V” device for valor with 62 oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Service Medal. In 1970 he was selected the Army Aviation Association of America Aviator of the Year.
In 1971 during the Viet Nam War he led his helicopter forces into Laos taking on heavy Soviet-made tank concentrations, surface-to-air missiles and ground fire marking the first time helicopters faced a sophisticated threat in large numbers. LTC Molinelli coordinated the attacks and developed the tactics that ensured the survivability of his unit’s aircraft and their crews. In 1978, as Commander, 6th Air Cavalry Brigade, he trained officers and enlisted men in the new area of AirLand Battle Doctrine. Always an avid spokesman for Army Aviation’s potential, he served, successively, during 1981-83 as Military Assistant, Acting Deputy, and Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Tactical Warfare Programs). In 1983-84, while serving as Army Aviation Officer, Department of the Army, he led the effort to field a new Aviation Force Structure, which put an Aviation Brigade in all Divisions and multiple Aviation Brigades and Groups at the Corps level. MG Molinelli died in 1987 of cancer. He was elected to the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 1989.
David R. Hensen
The bedrock of David Hinson’s career in aviation is his extensive flying experience. He has been a pilot for more than 50 years, graduating from Navy pilot training in 1955, immediately following his graduation from the University of Washington. He soon moved to the airline industry as a pilot for Northwest Airlines, a flight instructor for United Airlines, a captain and director of flight training for West Coast Airlines and eventually a director of flight standards and engineering for Hughes AirWest. Hinson graduated from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program in 1972. He founded Hinson-Mennella, an aviation-related corporation, in 1973, and then served as president of Flightcraft, Inc., the Northwest’s Beech aircraft distributor, through 1984. In that year, he became one of the four founders of Midway Airlines, serving as chairman of the board and CEO for the Chicago-based airline. From 1991 to 1993, Hinson served as executive vice president of marketing and business development for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft.
In 1993, Hinson moved from the private sector to the public when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be the FAA’s thirteenth administrator. During his tenure at the FAA, Hinson is credited with driving the implementation of global positioning system technology for civil air navigation. Over this varied career trajectory, Hinson has logged more than 9,000 hours in more than 70 types of aircraft. He holds an airline transport pilot and flight engineer rating and is type-rated in the DC-3 through DC-9, Boeing 727, MD-80, MD-11, numerous military aircraft and many general aviation turboprop and jet aircraft. He has piloted the Boeing 777, a Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier, an F-18 and a B-2 stealth bomber. He currently owns and flies a Beechcraft Duke. He lives in Ketchum, Idaho, with his wife Ursula.
Barbara R. Morgan
Barbara Morgan is an educator and astronaut. She taught at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School, was selected to be a teacher-in-space, became an astronaut mission specialist and was a Space Shuttle crewmember on STS-118. Barbara was born and grew up in Fresno, CA. She earned a B.A. with distinction in Human Biology at Stanford University and went on to obtain a teaching credential. Barbara is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has received many honors and awards for her teaching and astronaut work. In 1985 she was selected as the back-up candidate to Christa McAuliffe for NASA’s Teacher in Space Program.
After the loss of Christa McAuliffe and her crewmates in the Challenger accident in 1986 Barbara assumed the duties of Teacher in Space Designee. She returned to teaching in McCall while continuing to work for NASA until she was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 1998. Barbara was assigned duties in the CAPCOM Branch, working in Mission Control as prime communicator with on-orbit crews. She served on the crew of STS-118 on an assembly mission to the International Space Station launching Aug. 8, 2007. She logged over 305 hours and 5.3 million miles on the Space Shuttle Endeavour operating the robotic arms, cameras, and complex experiments, and serving on the flight deck for re-entry and landing. Barbara and her husband Clay Morgan with their two sons have returned to Idaho where Barbara has joined the staff of Boise State University as the Distinguished Educator in Residence providing vision and leadership to the State of Idaho on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Bob Fogg flew for 36 years in Idaho. He had a distinguished career as a back country pilot, World War II instructor pilot, manager of Johnson Flying Service in McCall, and supporting the US Forest Service, Idaho Fish & Game Department and wilderness communities in Idaho. After graduating from Cascade, ID high school, Bob took flying lessons from Dick Johnson at the Johnson Flying Service in Cascade. He achieved commercial and instructor ratings. During World War II he worked as a contractor training Army and Navy student pilots. Bob flew many types of aircraft, including 9000 hours in a Travel Air 6000, 3000 hours in a Ford Tri-Motor for a total of over 21,000 hours. He supported Idaho mountain residents flying people, animals, and supplies and dropping smoke jumpers. He participated in innumerable rescues of downed pilots, lost hunters and responding to medical emergencies.
Bob Fogg’s dedication to the support of aviation was exemplified by his many aviation involvements. He served as president of the Idaho Aviation Trades Association, was a FAA accident prevention counselor and a director of the McCall Area Search and Rescue Unit. He was also a mayor of McCall, ID and member of the Idaho House of Representatives.
Forrest M. Bird
Dr. Bird is an aviator, engineering inventor and bio-medical physician living in Sandpoint, ID. He invented the first highly reliable, low-cost, mass-produced medical respirator in the world, for which he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He soloed in his father’s 1927 GXE Waco 10 on his fourteenth birthday on June 9, 1935. During World War II, as an officer in the Army Air Corps, Dr. Bird became a technical air training officer, which allowed him to fly almost every airplane then in US Army Air Corps and later in the US Air Force inventories. Throughout his career he has continued to be an active pilot, a prolific inventor focusing on medical heart lung support devices of all types, serving as a biomedical physician specializing in cardiopulmonary disorders. Dr. Bird presently owns 21 airplanes and helicopters, which he flies keeping them airworthy for his Air Evac R&D. Dr. Bird opened the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center in Sandpoint, Idaho in 2007.
Inventions that Dr. Bird has pioneered include the high altitude pressure breathing regulator, the anti-g suit regulator, and various medical respirators including a universal medical respirator (Bird Mark 7) and an infant’s respirator (Baby Bird) that are credited with saving millions of lives. He has also contributed many ideas which have been incorporated into modern “medivac” air transport protocols. At the age of 87 Dr. Bird is one of the oldest active helicopter instructors starting militarily in June of 1943.
Wayne R. Webb
Wayne Webb was a smokejumper who in addition to a long career fighting fires also developed many innovations in parachutes and smoke jumping equipment. He was born in 1925 in Weiser, Idaho. At the age of 18 he joined the U.S. Army and went through paratrooper training at Ft. Benning Georgia. As a member of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division he saw action on the European front and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In 1946 Wayne became a smokejumper in McCall, Idaho. In 1965 Wayne was forced to quit jumping by an age regulation at the age of 40, but continued to be the loft foreman repairing and packing parachutes and spotting other jumpers on fires. In 1972 the age limit was lifted and Wayne began fire jumping again until his retirement in 1975 with 300 total jumps, 175 were on fires. Wayne designed the XP-1, -2 and -3 parachutes. In 1990 he was honored when the new McCall parachute loft was designated the “Wayne R. Webb Parachute Loft”. Wayne Webb possessed an intimate knowledge of the rugged Idaho backcountry. He was an honored smokejumper, a master parachute rigger, and instructor of sewing, equipment and parachute repair.
George L. Jensen
George Jensen is a long-time Idaho pilot who has contributed to and participated in the development of aviation in Idaho for more than 65 years. George first soloed in 1937 in a Waco bi-plane. He assisted barnstormers who hauled passengers at country fairs and rodeos. In 1939 George received his private pilot certificate. He completed requirements for his commercial license and instructor certificate in 1942. George taught flying to Navy cadets in Boise. He eventually accepted a Commission in the Army Air Corp and was assigned to Mather Field in Sacramento, CA. There he taught Army fliers in several types of aircraft. In 1945 George was sent to the China Burma India Theater, where he flew various transports, some over The Hump. In 1946 George separated from the service and remained in the Air Corp Reserves. In 1947 he purchased an interest in the Pocatello Flying Service where he was operations manager, Cessna dealer, and flight instructor. His role also included the search and recovery of missing pilots and downed planes.
George later worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, during which time he continued to fly as a free-lance instructor. George retired from the Union Pacific in 1978, and has lived in Boise with his wife since then. Since 1978 he has flown planes, including some jets, for various local business owners. He held commercial, single and multi-engine, and instrument pilot certificates, and had a CFI certificate for single and multi-engine aircraft. George retired from flying in 2002 with over 5000 hours in the cockpit, having helped pioneer aviation in Idaho.
Gene Nora Jessen
Gene Nora Jessen is a pilot, flight instructor, columnist, author and women-in-aviation advocate. Gene Nora started flying in high school in Evanston, IL. She got her BA in English at the University of Oklahoma where she also earned commercial and CFI pilot ratings. She now has many pilot and instructor ratings. In 1961 she participated in a research program testing women for capabilities to become astronauts. 13 passed the same tests as the Mercury 7 astronauts and were dubbed the “Mercury 13”, but were not accepted into the space program. Gene Nora was a demonstration pilot for Beech Aircraft where she flew the entire line of Beech aircraft. She flew for Beech for 5 years until 1967 when she and her husband, Bob moved to Idaho. They started Idaho Beechcraft where Bob sold Beech airplanes and Gene Nora ran the FAA-approved flight School. Later they purchased the Boise Air Service FBO.
In 2002 Sourcebooks published Gene Nora’s book The Powder Puff Derby of 1929. Her second book, The Fabulous Flight of the Three Musketeers is being completed. Gene Nora has served in the following positions and received the following honors: International President of The 99s (women’s aviators organization), long-time member Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame Board, Trustee of 99s Museum of Women Pilots, Presidential appointment to FAA Women’s Advisory Committee, 10 years on Boise Airport Commission, Pathfinder award from the Seattle Museum of Flight, Inductee to International Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame, honorary doctorate from Univ. of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Idaho Statesman’s Distinguished Citizen award.
Robert A. Hoff
Bob Hoff has been a leader in Idaho’s aviation community for more than 50 years. Since Bob’s father took him for his first airplane ride at the age of 4 to the present day, Bob has progressed to be a peerless aviator, passionate airplane collector and restorer, active aviation safety advocate, ardent aircraft salesman, and selfless aviation promoter, especially when it comes to flying in Idaho. Bob has a collection of vintage aircraft dating from his first airplane, a 1939 Beechcraft Staggerwing biplane, that he keeps in immaculate condition. Bob is a certified airframe and power plant mechanic. He often raises money for Idaho charities by auctioning flights in his collected aircraft. The aircraft have also been used in several movie productions. Bob has kept up his family’s tradition of flying out of his farm, southeast of Idaho Falls, to his FBO operation and airplane dealership in Idaho Falls. He has served as a member of the Idhao State Aviation Advisory Board for may years, is the president of the International Staggerwing Club and continues to be coordinator for and participant in Idaho State aerial search and rescue operations. Bob lives with wife, Jane, near Idaho Falls.
Ed W. Freeman
Major Ed W. Freeman (U.S. Army retired) was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in Vietnam. On 14 November 1965, then Capt Freeman, as a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. Captain Freemen risked his own life by flying his Huey helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion, saving many lives in the process. The book “We Were Soldiers Once …. and Young” and the movie “We Were Soldiers” told the story of the battle and his exploits. His flying career extended from 1955 to 1991 flying both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. After retiring from the service, he flew for 21 years as Northwest Area Director of Aircraft Services for the Interior Department out of Boise. Ed and his wife, Barbara, have been residents of Idaho for more than 30 years.
Edward W. Stimpson
Edward W. Stimpson was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to be the U.S. Representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with the rank of ambassador in 1999. He served as U.S. Ambassador for 5 years. For 25 years before the ICAO position, Ed was President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), where he was instrumental in the passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act that alleviated huge product liability costs and reinvigorated the general aviation industry. Ed is a private pilot. Prior to joining GAMA, he served as Assistant Administrator of Congressional Relations in the FAA. Ed has served on many aviation related boards and advisory groups for such organizations as Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, the Flight Safety Foundation, the FAA, NASA and the Boise Airport Commission. He retired in December 2004. Ed and his wife, Dorothy, have maintained their permanent residence in Boise for many years.
Thoville G. Smith
Thoville G. Smith excelled in several areas of aviation both in and outside Idaho. He has over 11,500 flight hours. His twenty year military career included qualifications as a pilot, navigator and air weapons controller in aircraft as varied as B-24, B-29, B-50, B-36, F-86 and F-80. Thoville helped integrate the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line radar sites into our air defense system during the Cold War. While on this assignment he qualified in the SA-16 Albatross search and rescue aircraft in Greenland. After retirement from the military his second career was in the FAA, then later as a Designated Flight Examiner (DFE) conducting over 850 flight examinations in Idaho alone. Administratively he was Operations Inspector and Accident Prevention Program Manager. Thoville retired from the FAA in Boise and still actively pursued several interests in aviation.
Bernard F. Fisher
Col. Bernard F. Fisher (retired) is the first living US Air Force recipient of the Medal of Honor for his action in Vietnam. Born in 1927, the native of Kuna, Idaho served briefly at the end of World War II and then spent the period from 1947 to 1950 in the Air National Guard before receiving his Air Force commission in 1951. Bernie Fisher served as a jet fighter pilot in the Air Defense Command until 1965 when he volunteered for duty in Vietnam. In 1966 he flew 200 combat sorties in the A-1E “Spad”. On March 10, 1966 during a combat strike on regular North Vietnamese troops then Bernie made a heroic rescue of his downed fellow airman Major Wayne Myers. Landing on an enemy infested airfield while taking withering enemy fire he taxied to Myer’s position and loaded him into the empty seat. Dodging shell craters and debris on the steel plank runway, Bernie took off safely despite many hits on his aircraft by small arms fire. He retired to Kuna, Idaho in 1974.
Patrick T. Peterson
The son of a backcountry pilot and flight instructor, John Peterson, Pat started logging flight time at age 12, soloing and attaining certificates and ratings always at the minimum age, eventually logging over 7,000 accident-free flying hours. A dedicated flight instructor, Pat was the co-founder and general manager of Ponderosa Aero Club, devising innovative backcountry videos for student training. He was also an Accident Prevention Counselor and Designated Pilot Examiner. Pat Peterson became an Air Traffic Controller, contributing from his educator background both within ATC and the aviation community. He was named BSU’s Alpha Eta Rho “Idaho Aviation Man of the Year” and also the Flight Instructor of the Year for the Northwest Mountain (7-state) Region. When Pat became afflicted with multiple sclerosis, the aviation community confirmed their love and admiration on Pat Peterson Appreciation Day by presenting him with a van with hand controls and electric lift along with an electric wheelchair. His spiritually-centered life inspired all who knew Pat Peterson.
Boyd C. Miller, Jr.
Taking an early retirement from his gold jewelry manufacturing business, Boyd Miller moved to Idaho and discovered a passion for mountain flying. Along with becoming a watchdog of U.S. Forest Service policies, Miller took on the presidency of the Cessna 180/185 Club. The Idaho pilots then elected Miller President of the Idaho Aviation Association, and he in turn motivated hundreds of pilots in Idaho and the west to join in the fight to save Idaho and regional remote-access airfields from regulatory encroachment or closure. However, it wasn’t all work, as Boyd’s favorite pastime was organizing breakfast flights into the mountain ranches. Boyd Miller also worked with J. Curtis Earl to endow a foundation dedicated to improving safety and operations in backcountry airports. Miller had a unique ability to mobilize many people to a cause. Backcountry access is his legacy.
Charles T. Reeder
Charlie Reeder became hooked on flying by a barnstormer, cleaning the airplane for his first ride. Determined to become a pilot, he pumped gas and drove a bus in Hailey for flying money, riding a Harley to Twin Falls for lessons. He started Reeder Flying Service including all the aviation services in 1941, along with managing the airport, then the GI bill brought an influx of flight students. Reeder bought four WWII surplus Torpedo Bombers converting them to sprayers and commenced crop dusting. They grew to a fleet of ten TBMs and four B-26 bombers with interchangeable spray tanks and fire retardant tanks which he flew all over the US and Canada. Helicopters were added to the fleet in 1960, for fire fighting, supplying offshore oilrigs, power line patrol and scenic flights. Charlie Reeder’s innovative and active business contributed to the growth of the Twin Falls Airport, modernized crop spraying and fire fighting, aided in searches for lost aircraft, promoted pilot careers, provided jobs and advanced airplane sales. Reeder’s vibrant business is still active, now owned by his sons.
Wayne White’s flying started in high school with the purchase of a $500 Aeronca Super Chief, the first of his lifetime lineup of nineteen aircraft. In addition to flight ratings, the enthusiast rounded out his aviation skills with an A & P Certificate. Wayne White taught for ten years at the community college level then moved to the business school at Boise State University. Combining with his love for aviation, BSU started an aviation management program under White’s direction. He took a special interest in his students’ progress in their subsequent aviation careers Professor White’s expertise in the field of aviation led to the presidency of Alpha Eta Rho, the international aviation fraternity, and also the University Aviation Association. White’s involvement with intercollegiate flying competition led to his leadership position in the NIFA, a program for over one hundred colleges and universities. His later years were devoted to research and writing on the early days of aviation in Idaho.
William S. Hill, Jr.
Bill Hill’s early love of aviation led to his three summers in the Citizens Military Training Camp which, in turn, found him prepared for the draft the day that President Roosevelt declared war. Following training and a short assignment in Australia, Bill qualified as a pilot and moved into the B-24 Liberators. He reported to the Air Transport Command in India and subsequently flew 46 missions over the “Hump”. Upon discharge, Bill returned home to Pocatello, but his flying didn’t end. He flew various airplanes in the Idaho Air National guard, was given command of the Air Section, and was made Adjutant of the Battalion. He flew numerous Idaho search and rescue missions. Bill became active in the family’s Hill Brothers Buick while also acquiring an Ercoupe dealership. He served as aviation chairman of the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce, served on the Airport Advisory Board, promoted the Oral History Research Institute at I.S.U., and was a Director in the Northwest Aviation Council representing Pocatello.
Nick Mamer barnstormed throughout the northwest making his first recorded appearance in Idaho at the Idaho State Fair in 1920. He became active in stimulating interest in aviation as a business. The aviation pioneers established practical uses of aircraft and Mamer did so in Idaho. He flew forest fire patrol, carried sportsmen into Idaho backcountry and utilized the airplane for law enforcement work. He was instrumental in convincing local politicians about the importance of developing airport facilities for the carriage of passengers, mail and freight. His impact was substantial by pioneering commercial aviation.
Ray Crowder began flying in 1928 at the age of 15, logging some 20,000 hours during his flying career. He pioneered utilization of the airplane for commercial purposes. Crowder barnstormed in flying circuses, was co-owner of Aircraft Service Co. on the College Field Airport, co-founded Bradley field, flew minerals out of the Idaho mines for the war effort, flew rescue in the backcountry, taught in the Civilian Pilot Training program, and was an early crop duster. Ray Crowder was part owner and manger of the Emmett Airport and proved the practicality of charter flights. His greatest pride was in the many students he taught to fly who followed him into aviation.
Lyn became a commercial pilot in 1969 and learned all she could about backcountry flying. As a widow with three children, she made a living flying freight to ranches, floaters, and hunters from a small mountain town with a short flying season. She built a reputation as an instructor because she was thorough and dedicated to the students, no matter what it took, to ensure they were safe and knowledgeable in their mountain flying. When she created formal backcountry flying classes, she videoed the challenging backcountry strips. Pilots come from all over the U.S. to take mountain flying lessons from Lyn. She died July 25, 1997 doing what she loved, teaching flying. She has left a legacy for flying in Idaho.
Don Duvall was Twin Falls airport manager for seven years before being appointed Boise Airport Manager in 1956. He guided Idaho and Boise into the jet age with second level loading from jetways before Salt Lake City had them. Don oversaw several multi-million dollar improvements to the Airport Terminal building and the Airport property, all without a Boise City Tax levy. Don guarded against encroachment by buying up lands closest to the approach/departure paths to the runways. Don received the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Idaho Statesman in 1963. During World War II he flew B-24’s out of England, and completed 35 combat missions. He was the first Commander of the Aviation Company, 116th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He retired in 1984.
Mike began flying in Idaho after buying a ranch near Salmon in 1955 and cutting an airstrip on it. It is still known as Twin Peaks. Seeing a need for air service in the area, he and his wife (Elaine DuPont) started Salmon Air Taxi. They pioneered scheduled airlines between several Idaho cities. In 1963, Mike moved his operation to Boise, sold Salmon Air Taxi and bought into the ariel spraying business. This led to his flying for Forest Service contractors, Milt Smilanich, Aero Union, et. al. in TBM’s, B-17’s and B-25’s. In the late 60’s and early 70’s he raced in Reno, winning National Point Champion in 1970. He died of hypothermia after a crash in 1977.
Bill began flying in the early 1920’s, eventually logging over 29,000 hours flying in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and Primitive Area. In 30 years of constant mountain flying, he transported countless hunters, fishermen, and livestock, and even airlifted tractors, power plants and unassembled lodges. During World War II, Bill trained over 500 pilots in the Cadet Pilot Program. His Floating Feather airport north of Boise was used as an emergency airfield by bomber crews training at Gowen Field, and by 1969 he trained 490 private pilot students from this field. Bill was a noted author. His most well known work is the “Do’s and Don’ts of Mountain Flying” which was printed on the State Aeronautical Chart and in the Idaho Airport Facilities Directory. He continued his service to those year-round residents in the backcountry into his 60’s and became know as the “Old Man of the Mountains”.
In 1927, Jim Larkin was introduced to aviation by his mother during the Great Depression. She scraped together enough money to get Jim a ride in a barnstormer’s stunt plane. The flight sparked his love of aviation. When Jim was eight the Larkin family moved from Colorado to Idaho. The Larkins purchased land in Donnelly, ID, a portion of which was developed as an airstrip that is still operational. The airstrip was donated to the village of Donnelly in 1952 by the Larkin family. Jim has flown DC-3, DC-4, CW-46, CV-240 and helicopters all over the world for the Department of Interior and other agencies. He is a true Idaho pioneer.
Gene Frank used great imagination and craftsmanship to conserve historic aircraft. In early 40’s he began collecting historic aircraft, recognizing that they would become rare. He acquired two Trimotors, a Fairchild FC2-W2, a Cessna Bamboo Bomber (UC-78) and a Curtiss Jenny. In mid-80’s he began a Jenny restoration project, completing the restoration with a transparent Mylar covering which allows one to examine the underlying structure and most components. He promoted the concept of a “flying museum” with early-style grass airfield from which rare restored historic aircraft could be flown.
Jack Hoke was responsible for the advancement of helicopters from when they were viewed as a novelty to their irreplaceable use in present day Idaho. He formed Helicopters Inc. in 1964 with three helicopters and by 1970 the company had grown to a total of sixteen helicopters operating in Idaho and the Northwest. In the 1960’s Jack operated one of the nation’s first helioskiing businesses located in Sun Valley. He had a major influence on the development and use of helicopters in mine, fire fighting, aerial spraying, logging, and air rescue. Prior to the introduction of “Life Flight” people like Jack Hoke were called upon to rescue dozens of injured Idahoans in our wilderness areas. Jack owned and operated Strawberry Glen Airport from 1968 to 1980, when it became the Riverside Village Subdivision.
Elaine Hunt McCalley
Elaine earned her private pilot certificate on September 17, 1939, one of only four women in Idaho to have the license and on April 29, 1940 became the first woman I Idaho to hold a commercial pilot license. Elaine was an early aviation leader. She was president of the Associated Women Pilots, Boise Hangar, later known as the 99’s. Elaine also served as secretary for the Idaho Pilots Association. Under Elaine’s leadership a group of volunteers put on Idaho’s first air show in June 1940 at the Boise airport.
A. Gwin Hicks
Gwin Hicks soloed on August 12, 1929 in Chehalis, WA in a 180 h.p. Hisso Steerman. It was the beginning of a lifetime in aviation that includes his position as Chairman of the Board of Western Aviation Corporation, a company established in 1944, and Gwin Hicks & Associates, Consultants. Buroker-Hicks Flying Service, formed in Olympia, WA in 1937, moved to Weeks Field, Coeur d’ Alene, in 1940 where its staff of instructors, including Gladys Buroker (Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame, 1995) trained 1250 pilots, navigators and radio specialists under the Civilian Pilot Training Program. In 1944 Gwin Hicks became associated with Bert Zimmerly of Lewiston in founding Empire Airlines, one of the nation’s pioneer “feeder lines”. In 1946 the company became interstate service to 22 Oregon, Washington and Idaho cities. Gwin Hicks was its Vice-President and Traffic Manager. He later served as President, Lake Central Airlines.
Harold P. Hill
Harold “Pete” Hill grew up with aviation history, since his father Wilbur H. Hill, “Father of Aviation in Kansas”, gave flying lessons to Charles Lindbergh. In Wichita, where he learned to fly in 1930, Pete worked for pioneer aircraft builders Cessna, Travel Air and Beech. He was the second pilot, after his father, to test fly the famous Beech Staggerwing. In 1939 he was appointed Acting Director, Idaho Department of Aeronautics. In 1940 he started a fixed base operation at Burley and founded the Pete Hill Co. From 1941 to 1953 he held increasingly important positions with the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration, before his appointment as airport manager for the City of Idaho Falls, a position he held for the next 28 years. The long list of honors and awards that have come to Pete Hill for his years of service to aviation in Idaho is most impressive.
E. Virgil Adair
E. Virgil Adair’s flying career spanned 60 years, from his first solo in 1919 through Years of barnstorming, flying commercial airlines to military service in World War II. Throughout the 1920’s and 30’s Virgil flew in just about every air show and flying circus in the Pacific Northwest. He, like other barnstormers of the day, paid for his love of flying by giving eager passengers their first taste of flight and by performing acrobatics at county fairs or any other available occasion. In 1927 he was Idaho Governor H. C. Baldridge’s official pilot and in the 1930’s operated his own air service. He flew for Pan American Airways before the war, and then enlisted in the Army Air Transport Command. Throughout the war he flew everything from B-17’s to fighter to every theater of operations. With Lewiston as headquarters he continued to be active in aviation until his death at 81 in 1981.
A. A. Bennett
A. A. Bennett was already a legend amount Alaska bush pilots when he cam to Idaho in the 1930’s. He was one of this state’s pioneer mountain pilots, delivering the mail and carrying out numerous rescue missions. In 1932 he took part in the first Intermountain Air Tour, flying a Zenith. He was briefly in partnership with Bob Johnson, another back-country legend, supplying mining camps with just about every kind of heavy cargo by air. Bennett and Johnson joined forces to be able to handle government mail contracts that neither could manage alone, but Bennett’s casual approach to business soon made Johnson decide to break off the partnership. Bennett’s free-wheeling style made him one of Idaho aviation’s most colorful characters. In 1941-42 A. A. Bennett was Idaho’s Director of Aeronautics. When he died in Nevada in his 80’s he was the country’s oldest licensed helicopter pilot.
Gladys Buroker paid $2 for her first airplane ride with a barnstormer in 1932 when she was seventeen. She liked it so much that she decided nothing could stop her from a life in aviation. Gladys’ accomplishments since are legendary in Idaho flying circles. During World War II she trained hundreds of men and women in the Civilian Pilot Training program at Coeur d’ Alene. She later taught her own children and grandchildren to fly. In more than 60 years of flying, Gladys has piloted everything from a Rankin B1 to a Ford Trimotor to a replica Fokker Triplane like the one Red Baron von Richthofen flew. She has parachuted and walked wings with a flying circus, crossed America on a motor cycle and most recently flown a hot air balloon. She is an inspiration to men and women alike.
Cyril "Cy" Thompson
Leon Cuddeback’s historic first commercial airmail flight for Varney Airlines on April 6, 9126 might never have happened without Cy Thompson. When Boise’s civic leaders faltered in efforts to get a city landing field ready for the event, it was Thompson, Commander of John Regan Post of the American Legion, who took the initiative. He organized volunteers, got donated equipment and labor, and spearheaded a crash program to carve a landing strip out of a brushy gravel bar beside the Boise River. Cy Thompson represented Idaho in pioneer efforts to crate a national airways system, was an avid promoter of commercial aviation, and engineer for U.S. steel and Idaho Power, and Deputy Idaho State Auditor before joining United Airlines in 1931. In 1940 he was promoted from Executive Assistant to the President to Vice President of what was soon the world’s largest airline. Through articles he wrote for national magazines Cy Thompson was one of commercial aviation’s most articulate spokesmen.
George T. Cooke
George T. Cooke’s career as an airline pilot is legendary, spanning the years from 1942 until his retirement in 1965. During those years he flew for Western Airlines out of Salt Lake City, was chief pilot for Zimmerly Air Lines, then Empire Air lines, and when West Coast Airlines was formed he became Superintendent of Flight Operations. After mandatory airline retirement at 60, George worked as flight instructor, check pilot and flight examiner in college programs certified by the FAA. In 1973 he received the FAA Flight Instructor of the year award. Cooke learned to fly with Joe Russell at Ontario, OR in 1928 in a Eaglerock biplane with a Kinner engine. In 1933 he got his private license with Casey Jones, also at Ontario. Of his 15,000 hours of airline flying 5000 were in F-27 Fairchilds, and 10,000 in DC-3’s. Captain “Neverstop’s” safety record was perfect.
Wilbur Hardner "Pete" Hill
Wilbur Hardner “Pete” Hill learned to fly in a Curtiss pusher at the Sweeney School of Aeronautics in Kansas City, MO in 1912. In World War I he was a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, and form 1919-22 was a co-owner of Williams-Hill Airplane Co. and Flying Circus; test pilot for Laird Swallow Airplane Co. 1923; chief pilot and sales manager, Lincoln Standard Airplane Co. and Page’s Aerial Pageant, 1923-26; test pilot and sales manager, Travel Air Manufacturing Co., Curtiss -Wright Aircraft Corp. 1926-33; co-founder and test pilot, Beech Aircraft, 1933-34. Pete came to Idaho in 1935. He was an auto dealer and flying service operator in Boise Valley, 1935-38; State Director of Aeronautics, 1938-40; civilian inspector, U.S. Army Air Corps, 1941-45; aviation inspector, North Idaho College, 1946-53. A pioneer among pioneer, W.H. “Pete” Hill knew most of them personally. His son, H.P. Hill (Pete, Jr.) is also a distinguished Idaho aviation notable.
Duane Beeson, “the Boise Bee” was Idaho’s leading World War II ace. Lacking the two years of college necessary to become a U.S. flying cadet, he went to Canada in 1941 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After flight training he was posted to Britain where he was soon flying Spitfires and Hurricanes for the Royal Air Force. When American air unites arrived in England, Duane Beeson was transferred to the U.S. 8th Air Force. As a fighter pilot flying Thunderbolts and Mustangs his job was to escort U.S. bombers on raids over Germany and the continent. He destroyed 25 enemy planes before his Mustang was hit by flak in the spring of 1944. He bailed out, was captured and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. Beeson was awarded 15 medals, including the Battle of Britain Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Silver Star.
Delphine Aldecoa has the distinction of being the first woman air traffic control tower chief in the Pacific Northwest, and only the second woman tower chief in the entire country. She worked as a clerk-typist at Gowen Field at the beginning of the war, but was soon sent to Seattle for training in air traffic control. She worked at Great Falls in 1943 before returning to Boise Air Terminal in 1945. After a year in the Spokane tower she was again assigned to Boise where she worked continuously from 1948 until 1971, rising to Assistant Chief. In 1971 Delphine was selected over more than 20 other well-qualified candidates to become Tower Chief at Hillsboro, OR. She retired from that position in 1978. Her honors include the Amelia Earhart Medal, Northwest Aviation Council Achievement Award, Federal Business Association Outstanding Service Award, and the Idaho Statesman Distinguished Citizen Award.
During more than a quarter century as Director of Aeronautics for the State of Idaho, Chet Moulton achieved national honors as an imaginative and innovative champion of general aviation. In 1970 Flying Magazine named him “General Aviation Man of the Year” citing his leadership, despite limited resources, in creating a number of firsts in the nation: a state sponsored search and rescue unit and such programs as Airport-in-a-Day, airport courtesy cars, Idaho air breakfasts and international group flights to Mexico and Canada. During Moulton’s tenure more than 100 new airfields were built in Idaho. He was named Idaho’s Outstanding State Employee in 1967.
Penn Stohr was Idaho’s most famous mountain pilot. To be recognized by your peers as one of the best in a handful of great backcountry fliers is high tribute, but it was one often paid to Penn Stohr. Rescue missions were among Stohr’s best-known exploits, and some of them received national attention. He is best remembered, however, as John Corlett wrote in 1943 as “the idol of Long Valley and the packhorse and of-times savior of the primitive area”. He was steady, reliable, and modest and, as a fellow pilot put it, “could get in and out of a shorter field, with a bigger load, on a hotter day, at higher elevation than just about anyone in the business. He died in 1957 in the crash of a Ford Trimotor near Townsend Montana.
Walter T. Varney
Flying the mail had become so dangerous by 1925 that both the Post Office and the Army were ready to turn it over to private contractors. The Kelly Act of October that year established a set feeder airmail routes to serve the main transcontinental ones. Walter T. Varney, operator of a flying school at San Mateo, CA had an experienced crew of pilots and mechanics. He shrewdly guessed that of all the proposed contracts up for bid nobody else would want the dangerous mountain and sagebrush route from Pasco to Boise to Elko. He was right. Contract Airmail route 5 (CAM 5) was awarded to him. He ordered six small Swallow biplanes, set up headquarters in Boise, and on April 6, 1926 saw Leon Cuddeback make what has since been commemorated by the Post Office as the beginning of commercial aviation in the U.S. United Airlines, which grew out of Walter Varney’s pioneer effort, still considers April 6, 1926 as its founding date.
Bert Zimmerly of Lewiston was a pioneer mountain pilot and flight instructor. On April 10, 1944 he flew to Boise on the first of a series of test flights across the state to determine the feasibility of an airline that would connect Idaho cities with the rest of the Pacific Northwest. His Cessna Airmaster was welcomed a Boise airport by Governor C.A. Bottolfsen and Harry Morrison. Later at a luncheon gathering Bert Zimmerly was encouraged to go ahead with his dream of a home-grown Idaho airline that would serve what the governor called “this state of magnificent distances”. Zimmerly did, and the rest, as they say is history. Empire Airlines was born. It later merged with West Coast, and in 1968 through another merger, became Air West. This was briefly Hughes Air West, then became part of Republic, and now is merged into Northwest Airlines.
Nominate an Individual to the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame
Any member in good standing may nominate an individual for consideration for induction into the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame. Nominations must be complete and received by the Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee 150 days prior to the Induction Ceremony (usually held in late October or early November) to be considered in the current year. However all nominations are considered every year. Nominations are never dropped from consideration.
Individuals are inducted into the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame to honor citizens, aviation leaders, pilots, teachers, scientists, engineers, inventors, governmental leaders, and other individuals who have significant ties to Idaho and who have made outstanding contribution to the establishment, development, and/or advancement of aviation.
In the form below, please list the individual’s accomplishments and clearly explain why the individual should be considered an aviation pioneer. Examples of accomplishments may include:
- developing new or improved aviation methods, equipment, or safety;
- providing special leadership, education, or research that made a clear advancement in aviation;
- through personal achievement, leadership, or invention produced a noteworthy positive change in some aspect of aviation;
- advanced the public’s awareness, understanding, and support for aviation;
- (provide your own examples).
You may email any relevant news articles, photos, or other supporting information to: [email protected].
Remember!! Induction into the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame is for significant and lasting advancements to aviation. The award is not for longevity, popularity, or other non-aviation status, or for merely being a “good pilot.”