The Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor was established in 2003 by The Oregon State Department of Aviation to recognize outstanding men and women in Oregon aviation.
The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum near McMinnville, Oregon, was designated by the State of Oregon as the official location for the Aviation Hall of Honor.
Criteria for nominees to the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor include but are not limited to the following:
1. Be an individual who is a native or resident of the State of Oregon or who is strongly identified with the State of Oregon who has made contributions of significant historic value to aviation/aerospace or the aviation/aerospace industry as a whole.
2. Be a person of ability and character who has exhibited the qualities of patriotism, integrity, moral and/or physical courage and/or public service.
3. Be a person who has achieved excellence and historic achievement in one or more fields of aviation including but not exclusive of the following:
a. Military achievements & service
b. Accomplishments in flight including space and instruction
c. Aircraft/aerospace and propulsion design, invention and manufacture
d. Civilian or commercial aviation development, operations and/or other aviation related civilian endeavors
4. A person who has significantly promoted education in the area of aviation, aerospace and propulsion
Please provide full name, title, contact information, photograph and full biographical information and the reason for the recommendation of the individual to:
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor Committee
Attn: Mike Burrill, Sr., Chairman
500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way
McMinnville, OR 97128
All recommendations will be considered by the Hall of Honor Committee.
A third-generation Oregonian who busied himself creating crude, solid-wood model airplanes as an adolescent, Buswell constructed his first home-built aircraft after obtaining his pilots license and soloing in 1938. Flying that aircraft from the pasture of his parent’s farm to Swan Island Airport in Portland ignited for Buswell a life-long passion for aviation, which led him through WWII as a B-24 Liberator pilot and an active participant in the Experimental Aircraft Association. Buswell’s award is posthumous.
Col. Campbell became a resident of the State of Oregon when his parents and siblings moved to Portland from Oklahoma in 1942 to work in the Kaiser Shipyards during WWII. He attended and graduated from Washington High School and also attended University of Portland. He is identified with Oregon and has made significant and historic contributions to the aviation industry as a whole by becoming the nation’s first African American to fly a jet plane and to command an Air National Guard Unit. Col. Campbell first started flying with the Civil Aeronautics Patrol (CAP) in Portland, Oregon while still in high school. In 1944 he passed the army Air Corps pilot exam and was inducted in the Pilot Cadet training program at Tuskegee Army Air Force Base training in the AT-6 aircraft. Following the end of WWII, he was amongst many cadets released from the service. He re-enlisted in 1946 and was sent to Randolph Field for advanced flight training flying the P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter. Upon successful completion of this phase, Cadet Campbell was sent to Williams Field for his final training flying the P-51 Fighter aircraft. Inducted in 2007.
Known in commercial aviation circles as the “Granddad of United Airlines,” Gorst, a former Coos Bay resident, knew how to move the mail. Though he began with ground transport in 1904, Gorst realized the potential in air transport and received the first Pacific Coast Air Mail contract in 1925 to deliver the mail through the auspices of his Pacific Air Transport company. He later merged Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, Varney Air Lines and National Air Transport into one organization known as United Airlines to fly the Pacific Coast routes. Gorst’s award is posthumous.
Watching birds in flight as a child, Jeppesen, formerly of O’Dell,Ore., longed to take to the sky. As a teenager, he saved enough money for an eight minute flight in a Curtiss Jenny and by age 20 he soloed as a student of the Rankin School of Aviation. Flying as a reserve pilot for the Boeing Air Transport Company, Jeppesen realized the need for aeronautical charts for safe flight and began recording field lengths, slopes, drainage patterns and information on lights and obstacles. Before long, other pilots became aware of Jeppesen’s “little black book” and began requesting copies of their own – so many, in fact, he began to charge $10 a copy. Today, Jeppesen’s charts are a staple in most pilots’ navigational chests. Jeppesen’s award is posthumous.
While employed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Milligan observed the need of polio patients for transportation to hospitals where they could obtain adequate medical care. In 1949, he founded Mercy Flights, Inc. in Medford, the first non-profit air ambulance service. He served as Mercy Flights’ board chair, chief pilot and spokesperson, flying more than 11,000 patients in southern Oregon and northern California before his death while transporting a patient in Medford in 1985. Milligan’s award is posthumous.
A native of Oregon, born in Pendleton in 1905, McCarty graduated from Northwestern College of Law in Portland in 1929. General McCarty was active in the Oregon National Guard for many years and advanced from an infantry private to battery commander of Artillery, holding all enlisted ranks through master sergeant. Assistant attorney general of Oregon from 1930 to 1936, General McCarty was elected state senator in 1942, but declined to serve when he was called to active duty as an Army Air Corps captain that same year. During WWII, he served as Squadron Commander, Operations Officer, Staff Officer with the North Africa Wing of the Air Transport Command and later, Commander of a chain of Air Basses in the Middle East. After WWII, he became active in the Air Force Reserve as commander of the 305th Air Division and later of the 403rd Troop Carrier Wing. From 1949-1950 he served as the National President of Air Reserve Association. In 1951 Gen. McCarty was recalled to active duty as Commander of the 403rd Troop Carrier Wing and flew combat airlift missions in Korea. He assumed Command of many Air Divisions over the years including the 315th Air Command, the Tactical Air Command’s 18th Air Force and the 14th Flying Tiger Air Force at Robbins Air Force base to name a few. General McCarty has flown almost every type of Air Force aircraft, including the supersonic F-100 and F-104 jet fighters and has piloted many types of airlines jet aircraft. Inducted in 2007.
Founder and CEO of Evergreen International Aviation, Smith built his company into the most diversified aviation business in the world. Growing up in Centralia, Wash., Smith gained a strong work ethic at a very young age. After graduating from the University of Washington, Smith became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force and was a squadron commander of a Pathfinder unit. Following his military service, Smith flew fixed wing aircraft and helicopters commercially. He visualized aircraft as industrial workhorses and angels of mercy and in 1960 founded Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., the first of seven synergistic aviation service companies in McMinnville. Smith resides in Dundee, Ore.
From the early days of Vietnam, through his subsequent service in the Oregon Air National Guard, he always displayed outstanding leadership, patriotism, courage and loyalty to the organizations he served. Bernhardt received the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster and Air Medal with 12 oak leaf clusters from the United States Air Force and the Gallantry Cross with Silver Star from the Republic of Vietnam. Later joining the Oregon Air National Guard, he took command of the 142nd Fighter Interceptor Group in 1989 serving in that position until his retirement in 1996. Bernhardt resides in Portland, Ore.
Costello has been a respected member of the aviation community for over 64 years. He volunteered with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and earned ratings in two dozen different aircraft before joining the Air Force Reserve in 1946. Recalled to active duty for the Berlin Airlift, he also served in Korea and Southeast Asia. Joining the staff of the Oregon Division of Aeronautics (DOA) in 1972, he was instrumental in creating Oregon’s State System Planning for General Aviation. He persuaded the FAA to fund the concept for the Oregon plan, which became a model for state plans across the U.S. Upon retiring from DOA, Costello served the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as the Northwest representative for 17 years and continues today as the special Oregon contact for AOPA among many other Oregon aviation leadership roles. He is referred to as Mr. Oregon General Aviation. Costello resides in Corvallis, Ore.
Staff Sergeant DeShazer joined the famed Doolittle Raiders and participated as a B-25 bombardier in the surprise attack on Tokyo, Japan. After completing the mission, his plane ran out of fuel and his crew landed in hostile territory. Captured and kept as a prisoner of war, he endured severe beatings and malnutrition for 40 months. When the war ended on August 20, 1945, the Japanese released DeShazer. He wrote a story, titled I Was a Prisoner of Japan, which fell into the hands of the man who led the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida – transforming his life. He received worldwide media attention for converting Fuchida to Christianity and both became friends, ministering together in Japan and the United States. DeShazer lived in Salem, Oregon.
Helicopter pioneer, Johnson believed in the use of the rotor-powered flying machine as an aerial workhorse and predicted a terrific future where man would utilize helicopters to move houses and haul timber out of forests. He served as a Marine Air Wing fighter pilot, flying dive-bombers in the South Pacific. Joining the Marine Corps Reserves as a helicopter pilot, he received the first commercial helicopter operator’s license in the nation in 1950. Purchasing his first helicopter the same year, he launched his company, Dean Johnson, Inc. Over the next few years, Johnson and his company proved the helicopter’s capabilities through aerial surveys of power lines, snow fields and timberlands; airlifting men to fight forest fires; rounding up wild horses for Native Americans, transporting heavy material for construction projects, and hauling at least 25 “authentic” Santa Clauses. Johnson’s award is posthumous.
Joining the United States Naval Air Reserve in 1941, Ensign Maloney received his wings on September 4, 1942. He received an assignment with Air Group 98, based at Guadalcanal. Providing air support during the invasions of Munda, Bouganville and Green Islands, he made over 80 strikes against the Japanese. In July 1944, he received an assignment with Air Group 6 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock and participated in fifteen strikes against enemy shipping and airfields in Nansei Shoto, Wake Island, and Okinawa. As Division Leader, Maloney led a strike against Okinawa, destroying a bridge used by the Japanese to supply their troops on the heights of the beach. Exploding debris from the bridge smashed into his aircraft, but Maloney maintained control long enough to ditch the aircraft in the open sea, where he and his rear-seat gunner quickly escaped before it sank and were later retrieved by a U.S. destroyer. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Navy Crosses, and five Air Medals. Maloney resides in McMinnville, Ore.
WWII P-38 Lightning Pilot who shot down Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, 1943: posthumous
Flying a P-38 Lightning on April 18, 1943, Rex Barber shot down the Mitsubishi Betty bomber carrying Japanese naval strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet and architect of the raid on Pearl Harbor. Barber later flew with the 14th Air Force, under General Claire Chennault. Led by Major John W. Mitchell, the 432-mile low-level intercept mission was the longest successful fighter intercept mission flown during World War II. The United States discovered Yamamoto’s plan to inspect the naval base at Bougainville in the Soloman Islands by breaking the Japanese radio code. With an endorsement by President Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy Frank Know issued the order to intercept Yamamoto’s party and destroy it at all costs. The United States kept the mission a secret until after the War so that the Japanese would not know that their top naval code had been broken. Shot down and injured over enemy territory near the Yangtze River while commanding the 449th Fighter Squadron, Barber evaded capture and returned to Allied territory in two months with the aid of the Chinese. He spent eight months in a California hospital recuperating. In January 1945, he returned to duty with 412th Fighter Group, 29th Fighter Squadron, testing the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. He flew jet fighters in the Korean War and retired as a Colonel after a full Air Force career. By the end of WWII, Barber had five confirmed aerial victories and three probables. Awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal and Veteran of foreign Wars Gold Medal of Merit, he died peacefully in his home on July 26, 2001.
WWII United States Marine Corps Ace, 1942, Navy Test Pilot, Marine Corps Commander: posthumous
One of the United States’ most decorated aviators, Marion Carl flew an F-4 Wildcat at Guadalcanal on August 24, 1942, encountering a Japanese force of bombers and fighters. Credited with 11.5 kills by the end of the Guadalcanal battle, Carl later said, these kills “made me an ace, the first in Marine Corps history, but that thought didn’t occur to me at the time – we were far too busy and more concerned with our losses.” After World War II, Carl became a U.S. Navy test pilot, setting a world speed record of 651 miles per hour on August 25, 1947. Chuck Yeager broke the record with Mach 1 (700 mph) later that year. In 1953, Carl set the world altitude record of 83,235 feet, and two years later, he flew U-2 hotoreconnaissance missions over China. Returning to combat during the Vietnam war, Major General Marion Carl commanded the 2nd Marine Air Wing. Retiring in 1973 with a record of 18.5 aerial victories, Carl was among the first Marines to fly a helicopter and the first Marine to land a jet on an aircraft carrier. He was also the first military advisor to wear a full pressure suit. During his career he logged 13,000 flying hours in aircraft from biplanes, seaplanes and helicopters to jet and rocket powered experimental models. Awarded the Navy Cross with two Gold Stars, Legion of Merit with three Gold Stars, Distinguished Flying Cross with four Gold Stars, and Air Medal with thirteen Gold Stars, Carl died while protecting his wife from an intruder in their home on June 28, 1998.
WWII U.S. Air Force Major, Tuskegee 99th Fighter Squadron: posthumous
At a time when black Americans struggled to overcome the daily obstacles of racial segregation, Robert Deiz dreamed of a career flying airplanes. Learing to fly in the late 1930’s through the Civilian Pilot’s Training program at Swan Island in Portland, Oregon, Deiz realized his dream at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. With an increased demand for pilots, the Army Air Corps began a so-called “experimental” aviation-training program at historically black Tuskegee Institute in the summer of 1940. This program resulted in a new corps of pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance personnel and instructors. These individuals became collectively known as the Tuskegee Airmen. While at Tuskegee, Deiz posed for artist Betsy Graves Reyneau who painted the famous war bond poster titled “Keep Us Flying!”
After graduation, Deiz spent 13 months flying 93 missions overseas with the elite Tuskegee-trained 99th Fighter Squadron. One of a handful of Tuskegee Airmen from Oregon, Deiz once said: “It irks us when people refer to us as an experiment. We are not conceited, but we feel we can fly as good as anybody else.” Deiz shot down two German Focke-Wulf 190s while flying ground support missions in late January 1944. Returning to the United States and the Tuskegee Institute, Major Deiz became a B-25 aircraft instructor.
Deiz remained in the Air Force after World War II. He spent time flying transport aircraft in Alaska and was involved in closing Air Force bases, such as Eniwetok, in the Pacific. Additionally, Deiz was instrumental in the development of safer landing patterns used by aircraft during inclement weather. After retiring from the Air Force in 1961, he joined North American Aviation at Columbus, Ohio, where he worked in research and development. Major Deiz passed away on April 6, 1992.
Former Chief of Staff, Oregon Air National Guard Founder, and WWII Fighter Pilot: Died April 11, 2008
Major General Gordon Doolittle — affectionately known as the Big Red Rooster owing to his thick red hair — left an indelible mark on the Oregon Air National Guard (ORANG) and the National Guard Bureau.
Enlisting in the Army Air Corps in June 1942, Doolittle received combat training in P-38 and P-39 aircraft. Receiving his wings and commission in April 1944, Lieutenant Doolittle joined the 435th Squadron of the 479th Fighter Group in Wattisham, England.
He went on to became an accomplished fighter pilot with 70 WWII combat missions over Europe and three German combat kills: two on December 5, 1944 and one on February 9, 1945. Captain Doolittle joined the ORANG as Squadron Operations Officer, 123rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron in August 1946. He assumed the duties of Fighter Squadron Commander in August 1947, was promoted to Major the next month and to Lieutenant Colonel in December 1949.
After the activation of the ORANG 142nd Fighter Group during the Korean Conflict, Doolittle became Deputy Group Commander at McChord Air Force Base, Washington. He assumed command of the 142nd Fighter Group upon the unit’s reallocation to Oregon and became Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters, ORANG in 1953.
Colonel Doolittle helped develop Air Force plans to use Air National Guard units called to active duty during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. Assuming command of the ORANG in June 1962, Brigadier General Doolittle became a Major General in April 1973, retiring four years later. His service as Commander of the ORANG and his work with the USAF at the Pentagon formulating plans and logistics forever changed the face of the United States Air National Guard. His 26-year legacy remains with the Guard and the Air Force today.
WWII US Army Air Corps Captain, 75th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group, 14th Air Force: posthumous
Airplanes always fascinated John Hampshire. His passion for flying led him to seek a pilot’s license, despite not having the money to do so. To fund his flying lessons, Hampshire hoisted his huge oak desk out his upstairs bedroom window and sold it! Soon after earning his private pilot’s license, Hampshire enlisted in the Army Air Corps. After graduating from flight school, he found himself assigned to the 14th Air Force, under the command of General Clair Chennault, flying Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters in China.
Assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group, Hampshire first engaged in combat on October 25th, 1942 over Hong Kong and destroyed two Japanese aircraft while escorting B-25 Mitchell bombers. Hampshire flew aggressively and quickly amassed an impressive record of aerial victories. On April 24, 1943, Hampshire attacked and destroyed a Japanese aircraft that had dropped leaflets touting the superiority of Japanese aerial forces over the city of Lingling. Hampshire wrote to his father, “The pilot that dropped them ran into a little hard luck on the way home.”
On May 2, 1943, after shooting down a Japanese fighter, Hampshire’s P-40 plunged into the Siang River. That night the Chinese set off 100,000 firecrackers to honor Hampshire, who with 17 aerial victories was the highest scoring US ace in China at the time. Hampshire received several decorations posthumously, including the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heard. Grants Pass, Oregon honors his memory with John Hampshire Field and by burning an eternal flame for Captain John F. Hampshire, Jr. – the local boy who gave his life to his country.
American Volunteer Group Flying Tiger Flight Leader and Ace
A Marine pilot, who joined Claire Chenault’s Flying Tigers in China, Ken Jernstedt became the American Volunteer Group’s fifth-ranking ace, destroying more than 10 Japanese aircraft. Jernstedt joined the Marine Air Corps in 1939, receiving his Navy wings in 1940. He became a Flight Leader for the legendary Flying Tigers after training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His “Hells Angels” squadron was among the first in action after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Before going into basic training he wanted to make sure he would like flying, so he took his first flight from the old Swan Island Airport in Portland, Oregon, in a small, two-seat airplane. Jernstedt said, “From that point on I was hooked on flying!” After World War II, he returned to Oregon making a home in Hood River where he ran a successful bottling company and began a political career that lasted 40 years. Beginning as a city councilman in 1951, he became Hood River’s Mayor in 1959. Jernstedt moved to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1966, and then served five terms in the Oregon Senate. He returned to Hood River as Mayor in 1989 and retired from politics in 1991. Due to glaucoma, his vision eventually deteriorated, and his guide dog, Driscoll, entered his life. Jernstedt received the Distinguished Flying Cross in October 1996 and in June of 2001 the Port of Hood River formally changed the name of the Hood River Airport to Ken Jernstedt Airport in his honor. Ken Jernstedt passed away on February 5, 2013.
WWII U.S. Army Air Corps Second Lieutenant, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force: posthumous
Native Oregonian David Kingsley worked as a Portland firefighter before entering Army Air Corps service in April 1942. After receiving his bombardier’s wings in July 1943, Second Lieutenant Kingsley joined the 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force, stationed in Italy. On June 23, 1944, Kingsley and his B-17 crew participated in a mission to destroy the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. While approaching the target, the aircraft received severe damage from German defenses. Nonetheless, once the pilot positioned the aircraft over the target, Bombardier Kingsley successfully dropped his bombs causing severe damage to vital German installations. In response, German ME-109 aircraft intensified their attack upon Kingsley’s B-17. Severely damaged, the Flying Fortress lost altitude and lagged behind the bomb group formation. Both the ball turret gunner and the tail gunner received severe wounds. Learning of his crewmembers’ injuries, Kingsley went to administer first aid. Due to the intense flak damage, the pilot ordered the crew to bailout of the B-17. Kingsley, while tending to the tail gunner’s wounds, removed his own parachute and adjusted the harness to fit his injured crewmate. Next, he assisted both gunners in bailing out as the aircraft ontinued to loose altitude. The aircraft went down taking Kingsley with it. His body was later found in the wreckage. David Kingsley was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in May 1945. He was the only Oregonian airman of WWII to receive the prestigious award. In 1957, Klamath Falls dedicated its airport as Kingsley Field in honor of Second Lieutenant David Kingsley.
WWII US WASP, 3rd Ferying Squadron: posthumous
In 1943, Hazel Ying Lee became one of 132 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to serve their nation during World War II. She made aviation history as the first Chinese-American woman to fly a military plane. A native of Portland, Oregon, Lee fell in love with flying at a time when less than one percent of American Pilots were women.
After obtaining per pilot’s license in 1932, she wanted to fly for the Chinese Air Force against Japan. Unable to join the Chinese Air Force, Lee remained in China until 1938 and contributed to that nation’s war effort in a number of ways. After returning to the United States, Lee learned about an opportunity to fly military aircraft through the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD). during training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, she made an emergency landing in a farmer’s field. Mistaking her for a Japanese pilot, the farmer held her at “pitchfork point” until the farmer’s son realized who Lee was and assisted her.
Graduating as a WASP on August 7, 1943, Lee joined the Air Transport Command’s 3rd Ferrying Squadron and began ferrying trainer and liaison type aircraft. After completing “Pursuit School,” Lee began to ferry advanced fighter aircraft. In late November 1944, she picked up a new Bell P-63 King Cobra in New York and flew the aircraft to Great Falls, Montana. Another P-63 struck Lee’s aircraft while landing at Great Falls on November 23, 1944. She survived the fiery crash, but succumbed to her injuries two days later. In her lifetime, Lee flew more that 70 different aircraft and died doing what she loved: flying.
Four-star general, Retired Air Force Chief of Staff: livingous
With more than 6,000 hours logged principally in fighter aircraft, 269 combat missions, pilot wings from 11 countries, and two years spent as a member of the Thunderbirds, the famed Air Force precision flying team, General Merrill “Tony” McPeak was a natural to command the US Air Force during the Gulf War. Entering the Air Force in 1957, McPeak flew as an attack pilot and high-speed forward air controller during the Vietnam War. In Vietnam he served as the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing Commander from February 25, 1980 to May 26, 1981. He then spent two years as a pilot for the elite aerial exhibition team the hunderbirds. A highly decorated four-star general, McPeak assumed the role of Air Force Chief of Staff in October 1990 and directed the air campaign in Operation Desert Storm. Over the next four years, he accomplished the largest reorganization of the Air Force in United States history. Following Desert Storm, McPeak participated in the development of improved guided munitions enabling more precise targeting of air strikes. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also functioned as a military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the President of the United States. He retired in 1994 to Lake Oswego, Oregon, where he is president of McPeak and Associates, an international aerospace-consulting firm. He also serves as Chairman of ECC International, a military simulation training company, and serves on the Board of Directors of several other hightech companies. McPeak continues to lecture widely and is an expert commentator on television and radio regarding military operations.
Co-founder, Tektronix, Inc., private pilot, and aviation buff: posthumous
Jack Murdock believed in science as a main source of knowledge and the key to resolving issues. Convincing his parents to help him start a business rather than pay for a college education, he purchased a shop for the sale and service of radios and electrical appliances. No one was surprised when in 1946, he and his technician, Howard Vollum, exploited their small radio and appliance shop to found Tektronix, Inc. — now one of the world’s most prominent electronic instrumentation companies. A Portland, Oregon native, private pilot and aviation buff, Murdock believed deeply in philanthropy and helped fund Northwest education and scientific research wherever he could. Murdock once operated a Piper aircraft distributorship at Pearson Field in Vancouver. With a strong interest in aviation safety, he initiated a umber of aircraft modifications, making them safer and more serviceable to pilots. The SuperCub was his favorite plane. Subsequent to his untimely death in a floatplane crash on the Columbia River in 1971, the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust was established in 1975 per Murdock’s will. Focusing its funds to grantmaking allocations in the Pacific Northwest, the Murdock Trust mission focuses on enriching quality of life by funding organizations seeking to strengthen the educational and cultural programs in creative and sustainable ways. The Trust is now one of the five largest private foundations in the Northwest. It funded the creation of the Jack Murdock Aviation Center at Pearson Field in Vancouver as a lasting tribute to his life.
Founder of Aero Air, flight trainer
With an avid and infectious passion for aviation, Norman “Swede” Ralston has inspired thousands to take to the skies. Swede saw his first airplane at the age of five and ran a mile over fields and fences to keep it in sight. As a teen, he purchased and rebuilt an American Eaglet. Flying at every opportunity, Swede barnstormed, sold rides and lessons, built an experimental aircraft designed by Les Long called the Ralston Low Wing, and constructed the first commercial hangar at Hillsboro, Oregon. Courting his future wife, Radah, from an airplane instead of a car, Swede often landed on a field intentionally left unplanted by her father adjacent to their farm.
During WWII, Swede trained hundreds of Army pilots with Tex Rankin at the Rankin Air Academy in California. Returning to Hillsboro, he continued flight instruction, converted surplus General Motors TBMs to spray forests, and purchased a fleet of aircraft for Ralston Airshows. Ralston entertained thousands with a host of different aircraft – like the “Skinless Cub,” a modified Piper J-3 with a horse saddle on it. One of his most memorable flights was a dash through the massive wooden dirigible hangar at the Tillamook Naval Air Station at 250 miles an hour in a North American AT-6 Texan!
In 1956 Ralston founded Aero Air, which today is a successful full service Fixed Based Operator. Ralston counts the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, International Council of Air Shows Hall of Fame Award and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for furthering the cause of aviation safety among his many honors and has been a driving force behind the development of the Hillsboro Airport.
WWI U.S. Army Air Corps, barnstormer, and aerobatics instructor: posthumous
With an aviation career spanning the years between WWI through the end of WWII, Tex Rankin’s aviation enthusiasm inspired thousands of aviators throughout the United States of America. A native of Texas, young John G. Rankin left home at 16 in 1910 in search of adventure and found his way to the United States Army Air Corps. Developing a love of aircraft while serving his country, Rankin made his way to the State of Washington where he learned to fly after his discharge from the Army Air Corps in 1919. Rankin moved to Portland, Oregon, in late 1922 with his strong Texan drawl still in tact. When he started the Rankin Flying Service, he was referred to simply as “Tex”! Before long, many aspiring aviators turned to Rankin for flying lessons. In response, he established the Rankin School of Flight and by 1927, he had instructed over 250 students. More than 60 flying schools nationwide adopted Rankin’s series of booklets, known as The Rankin System of Flying Instruction, which covered all phases of flight and emphasized safety as a priority. When he wasn’t instructing new pilots, Rankin’s Air Circus barnstormed cities and towns throughout the West, with a series of different aircraft, all with a number 13 painted on the side and a black feline passenger for luck. With the advent of WWII, Rankin established the Rankin Aeronautical Academy in Tulare, California, to instruct civilians in aerobatics for the Army Air Corps. During its four and a half year history, the Academy graduated 10,450 cadets, twelve of which became WWII aces. One of America’s greatest pilots, Tex Rankin died in the crash of a Republic Seabee in Klamath Falls, Oregon on a routine business flight in 1947.
Aviation Engineer Business Leader, advisor to Howard R. Hughes: living
During his career, Jack Real worked with many pioneers of aviation and for many aviation industry giants, including Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas. A native of Michigan, Real graduated from Michigan Tech in 1937. Shortly after he went to work for Lockheed, a California Company. While at Lockheed, Real spent his time designing, developing and testing many aircraft including the B-14 Hudson Bomber, the XH-51, the Lockheed model 286 and model 475, and the Cheyenne Helicopter. In 1960 he became the Chief of Engineering Flight Test, in charge of all flight test activities and two years later became Chief Engineer of Research, Development and Testing. During 1964, Real spent most of his time working on the SR-71 project with Lockheed’s engineering genius Kelly Johnson in the Skunk Works. In 1965 he became Vice President and General Manager for the AH-56A Cheyenne Helicopter project, and by 1968 he was responsible for all rotary wing programs at Lockheed. While at Lockheed, Real met Howard Hughes. From 1957 until Hughes’ death in 1976, Real served as his personal advisor. Hughes appointed Real as the Senior Vice President of Aviation, Howard Hughes Corporation (formerly Hughes Tool Company) in 1971; he lived and traveled abroad with Hughes from 1972 to 1976; and in 1979 he became President of Hughes Helicopters, where he guided the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter program. In 1983, under Real’s leadership, Hughes Helicopters received the Robert J. Collier trophy, aviation’s highest honor for achievement in aeronautics in America. He shared the award with Jack Marsh, U.S. Secretary of the Army, Department of the Army. In 1984, Real became President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Company (formerly Hughes Helicopter Company) where he remained until his retirement in 1987. Real was instrumental in using his influence to locate the Hughes Flying Boat “Spruce Goose” at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. He is currently Chairman Emeritus of the Museum.
WWII US Commander, 20th Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff: posthumous
General Nathan Farragut Twining’s military career spans two world wars and two branches of service, beginning with Company H of the Third Oregon Infantry where he served as a corporal on Mexican border duty in 1916. Twining began his aviation career at Primary Flying School, Brooks Field, Texas. After earning his pilot’s wings, he became an Air Service instructor and moved to March Field, California in 1926. Twining joined the 18th Pursuit Group at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in February 1929 and served in various positions before becoming commanding officer of the 26th Attack Squadron. Over the next several years, Twining received a succession of assignments that steadily moved him up the ranks of command.
In January 1943, Twining became Commanding General of the 13th Air Force and was later appointed to Commander, Aircraft, Solomon Islands with tactical command over all Army, Navy, Marine and Allied Air Forces in the South Pacific – one of the earliest Joint Air Commands in US military history. In November 1943, Twining became Commander of the 15th Air Force in Italy. Twining then returned to the Pacific Theater as Commander of the 20th Air Force on August 2, 1945. The 20th Air Force conducted the world’s first atomic bombing missions with Twining in command.
Following the war, Twining held a myriad of assignments before returning to Washington, D.C. He became Air Force Chief of Staff on June 30, 1953 and on August 15, 1957 the first Air Force officer to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During his career, Twining earned numerous American and foreign military decorations. Twining died on March 29, 1982 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Serving his country in South East Asia inspired Timothy Wahlberg to pursue a life-long career in aviation. Joining the United States Army in 1963 during the Vietnam War, he became a helicopter gunner, and conducted maintenance work on the Bell UH- 1 Huey. Contributing 450 combat hours to the defense of South Vietnam, Wahlberg received the Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Army Air Medal with 18 Oak Leaf Clusters before receiving an honorable discharge.
A native Oregonian, Col. Russell D. Barney grew up in Astoria. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and was selected for pilot training. Upon completion, he was sent to England to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress with the 490th Bomb Group. He and his crew completed 35 combat missions, proudly pointing to the fact that none of them received as much as a scratch. Barney then went on to fly missions rescuing downed aviators. He remained in the Active Reserve after the war and was called up for duty in the Korean War where flew missions in an un-armed L-5, directing air strikes. He went on to command the 7th Liaison Squadron. Then the war in Vietnam once again called him into combat. Flying the B-26K Invader with the 56th Air Commando Wing, he completed 110 missions including 10 into North Vietnam. After his combat tour, he served in several staff officer positions before retiring from the Air Force with more than 30 years of distinguished service. As a civilian he became an educator serving the country’s future leaders. He founded the Department of Business Administration at the Baptist University of America, then as an Associate Professor, founded and chaired the Department of Business Administration at The Master’s College. He returned to Oregon in 1987, settling in Yachats where he served on the City Council. Today, Barney carries on his legacy of service and education as a volunteer docent for the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. In what he regards as his most rewarding activity, he talks to audiences young and old about aviation, and the B-17 Flying Fortress. With warmth and humor, he shares his gift of experience; inspiring visitors young and old to follow their dreams and serve their country.
For Dennis A. “Denny” Smith, that dream of flying was sparked by watching B-36 bombers from Fairchild AFB flying over his home in John Day. At the age of 16, Smith learned to fly, riding the bus from John Day to Ontario on the weekends to receive instruction. He earned his Air Force pilot’s wings before graduating from college, and flew F-89s with the Oregon Air National Guard. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Smith left the family newspaper business and returned to active duty. He was assigned to fly F-84s out of McDill AFB in Florida with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, and transitioned to the F-4C Phantom II in 1964. Deployed to Cam Rahn Bay, South Vietnam, Smith would fly 180 combat missions in the F-4 where he performed combat air patrols and close air support. He was awarded the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, and finished with the rank of Captain. Leaving the Air Force, Smith became a flight engineer-navigator and later a co-pilot for Pan American World Airways. He spent ten years there, being selected to be the union’s lobbyist in Washington, all while maintaining the family publishing firm. Smith was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1980, being re-elected on four occasions. While in Congress, he sat on a number of committees including the House Budget Committee, Interior and Insular Affairs and Veterans Affairs. He also founded the Congressional Aviation Forum. Today, Denny Smith remains active in business, community and his early love, aviation. In addition to being Chairman of the Board for Eagle Newspapers, he owns Sunquest Northwest Executive Jet Service. As a member of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum Board of Trustees, he carries on the dream of flight; helping inspire others to set their spirits soaring.
George Robert Dodson was destined to have a major impact on aviation in Oregon. Dodson earned his pilot’s license in 1933, and in 1939, was elected governor of the National Aeronautics Association. That same year, he was appointed to the Oregon State Board of Aeronautics. In 1938, Dodson enlisted in the Army Air Corps Reserve and within three years, was tasked with organizing an Oregon Air National Guard. He enlisted enough men to form the 123rd Observation Squadron, and served as its first commander. With the start of World War II, Dodson took the 123rd to Fort Lewis, Washington, before commanding the 70th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and the 89th Reconnaissance Training Wing. Dodson went overseas in August 1944 as commander of the 1st Liaison Group in Burma, and later with the 3rd Combat Cargo Group. During his time in Burma, he amassed 413 hours of combat flying. After the war, Dodson returned to the Oregon National Guard and commanded the newly created 142nd Fighter Group. He was responsible for organizing the Air National Guard program for the state. Later after promotion to Brigadier General, he was named Chief of Staff for Air. Dodson developed policy for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve at a national level; advising the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force. In 1957, he was elected Secretary of the National Guard Association of the United States, becoming the first Air Guardsman to hold such high office. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and several theater service medals. George Robert Dodson passed away in December 1958, having distinguished himself in service to his country and to the state of Oregon, as a founding father of today’s Oregon Air National Guard.
Born in Cloverdale, Oregon, Kenneth Reusser demonstrated an adventurous streak at an early age; jumping from roofs to test home-made parachutes and racing motorcycles. Like many young men in the late 1930s, he recognized that war was coming, and was determined to get in as a flyer. He learned to fly with the Civilian Pilot Training Program and then went on to Navy flight school; where he graduated as a Marine Corps officer. First assigned to fighter squadron VMF-121, Reusser was thrown into the savage battle for Guadalcanal flying the F4F Wildcat. On his first mission he shot down a Japanese bomber, but was forced to ditch the aircraft and was severely injured. Island natives who pulled him from the sea hid him from the Japanese for two weeks, until the Navy could pick him up. After recovering on a hospital ship, Reusser returned to combat for two months before being ordered home for surgery. Reusser next saw combat with VMF-312 flying the F4U Corsair over Okinawa. Tasked with close air support, the squadron also protected the fleet from the terrifying attacks of the Kamikaze suicide aircraft. On May 10th 1945, Reusser and his wingman intercepted a Japanese Ki-45 that was scouting for the kamikazes. Unable to shoot due to frozen guns, they chewed its tail with their propellers until it lost control and crashed. Both men won the Navy Cross for their innovative attack. The Korean War found Reusser flying Corsairs off the USS Sicily with VMF-214. During a mission over Pusan, he spotted a hidden enemy tank repair facility, but was out of ammo. After landing and refueling, he led his squadron back and destroyed the factory and many trains. On the way home, Reusser attacked a gasoline tank ship which blew up, heavily damaging his Corsair. Only through incredible airmanship was he able to get back to the carrier. For this mission, he won a second Navy Cross. Reusser saw his third war in Vietnam where, while leading a flight of helicopters on a rescue mission, he was shot down in an enemy ambush. Trapped in the burning Huey by a jammed safety harness. He repeatedly leaned back into the flames to burn the harness off. He was horribly burned over 35% of his body, his left ear burned off and he was hit twice by gun fire; but he still went back to try pulling others out of the wreck. It would take more than a year of hospitalization to repair his damaged body, before the Marine Corps retired him with honors. After leaving the Corps, he continued his career in aviation, working for Lockheed Aircraft, and later with Piasecki on a heavy-lifter project that required him to become a blimp pilot. He remained active in veteran’s organizations until his death in June 2009. As a Marine, Kenneth Reusser earned 57 medals and ribbons for service and valor, including two Navy Crosses, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 19 Air Medals and four Purple Hearts. He remains the most decorated flyer in the history of the United States Marine Corps.
When someone is committed to achieving the goal of excellence, it shows in everything they do. A graduate of McMinnville High School, Michael King Smith showed himself to be a leader early in life, in varsity athletics, as an honor student and Senior Class president. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout, became an accomplished musician and earned his pilot’s license at age 16. Smith graduated from the University of Washington and became a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He received his Air Force wings and finished first in his class with accolades including the Commander’s Trophy, the Distinguished Graduate Award and the Flying Excellence Award. He then graduated from Fighter Lead-In training and the F-15 RTU before flying with the 123rd Fighter Squadron Oregon Air National Guard, as a pilot and flight lead. Outside military flying, Smith was the President of Evergreen Ventures, Inc, founded the Evergreen-Doe Humane Society and Quality Aviation Services, and serving on Board of the Valley Community Bank. Smith’s greatest accomplishment was the co-founding of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. With a passion for aviation and a desire to inspire others, he set out to create a new kind of learning center; where people could follow their dreams and experience the history of aviation. When he learned that the Disney Corporation was to discontinue the exhibition of the Hughes H-4 Flying Boat, “the Spruce Goose,” Smith developed a proposal to make it the centerpiece of the museum which was selected for implementation in July 1990. Smith lost his life in an auto accident in 1995, but because of his uncommon vision, the museum he began has become a world-class facility. For visitors, it inspires and educates, preserves the history of aviation and spaceflight and honors the patriotic service of veterans; just as Captain Michael King Smith envisioned decades before.
Some people were born to fly, some reach the skies through hard work and determination, but Gerald “Gerry” Weaver seemed to come to fly almost by accident. “Sure, I’ll learn to fly; confident I wouldn’t have to…” he said in the first of a series of articles that set him on a path to becoming a familiar name to Oregonians in the 1930s. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Weaver had his sights set on a career in journalism after his graduation from high school. Beginning as a “cub” reporter with the Indianapolis Times at 18, he had to give it up when his family headed west in a Model T touring car to a new home in Oregon. He eventually joined the Portland News and News-Telegram newspapers, but during the Great Depression, he and his family moved around wherever there was work. In 1934, he returned to Portland to write for the Oregonian. The decade of the 1930s was the Golden Age of aviation, and the public was in awe of the feats of pilots such as Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post. Newspapers followed their exploits, and brought them daily, into the homes of their readers. In 1936, the Oregonian made Weaver its Aviation Editor, and at the direction of the managing editor, he was to learn to fly. Starting on March 8, 1936 a series of articles by Weaver ran in the Sunday Oregonian, entitled “Me and My Wings.” Beginning his instruction with Les Meadows and Don Smith of the Portland Air Service, he took his readers through the process of the flight physical, and issuance of a student pilot’s license through to his solo. With fear gradually giving way to confidence, Weaver became a pilot, learning in a Fairchild 22, at Swan Island Airport. His humor and humility brought the experience home to the readers, as he explained everything in easy to understand prose. Along the way, he became the first to land at a cow “infested” field that is now Portland International Airport and was featured in advertisements for the optometrist who fitted him with his flying glasses. But the adventure didn’t end with the articles. Weaver went on to cover aviation for another 7 years writing articles about the growth of aviation as a sport, an industry and a part of daily life. As the airline industry endeavored to make flying appealing to the general public, Weaver took promotional flights with Pan American Airways to Mexico City in 1937 and with United Airlines to New York in 1938, helping to popularize this modern mode of transportation. In 1942, Weaver left the Oregonian to work for the United Metal Trades Association in labor relations and collective bargaining; an assignment he continued until his death in 1958. Yet his lasting legacy will be in the way that he brought the world of aviation home to the readers of the Oregonian; showing them that everyone can share in the dream of flight.
It is often said that it is darkest before the dawn, and Ernie Brace can testify to the truth in that statement; spending a dark seven years as a Prisoner of War before finding the light of redemption upon his return. Ernest C. Brace was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1931. Growing up during World War II, he developed a keen interest in airplanes, so after high school he joined the Marine Corps and earned his wings at age 20. Sent to Korea, he flew Corsairs and Skyraiders in combat where he became the first pilot to fly 100 missions. He was later shot down and ditched at sea, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in combat. However, due to an error in judgment involving a flying accident, he was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1961; ending his military career. By 1964, Brace found employment with Bird & Sons, a USAID / CIA contractor, where he flew a PC-6 Turbo Porter on supply missions into Laos and Thailand. It was on one of these missions in May, 1965 that he was captured by North Vietnamese forces that had over-run the airfield at Boum Lao, beginning his darkest days. Despite his civilian status, Brace’s captors marched him across northern Laos to Dien Bien Phu, to spend three years of living hell, tied up in a cage measuring three feet by seven feet by five feet high. Following the military code of conduct, he did everything he could to resist his captors including three escape attempts. Each was followed by harsher punishment; culminating in a week of being buried up to his neck in the jungle. By the time he was moved to the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison in 1968 he could barely walk, but he still resisted. Placed in solitary confinement in a cell next to future Senator John McCain, Brace helped carry on a communication network between prisoners that would have meant severe punishment if he were caught. For the next four years, he was kept isolated from the outside world, because he was captured in Laos, where neither the US or North Vietnam were supposed have a presence. Yet, he maintained the military code of conduct and assisted others, earning him the respect and admiration of his fellow POWs. When finally released in 1973, Ernest Brace was the longest held civilian POW of the war, having been imprisoned for 2,868 days. He was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Medal and found redemption with a presidential pardon for his Marine Corps discharge. After a year-long hospital recovery he returned to aviation, coming to work as the Vice President of Operations of Evergreen International Airlines. With Evergreen, he returned to Vietnam to transfer Air America assets to UN missions in Africa and directed a program to control narcotics traffic in Mexico. Later, as the International Marketing Manager for Sikorsky Helicopters he worked extensively in Asia and assisted the US military in Kuwait after Operation Desert Storm. Now retired to Klamath Falls, Ernest C. Brace’s personal courage, devotion to country and adherence to a code of honor, stand as an inspiration to free people everywhere.
When Neil Armstrong made his “one small step” onto the moon in July 1969, the world’s attention was focused on him, yet the success that he heralded was not his alone. Behind the triumphant achievement was years of work by hundreds of thousands of people like Jerry Florey. Jerry was born in Geddes, South Dakota, but made McMinnville, Oregon his home after moving with his parents in 1938. Excited about astronomy and intrigued by the adventures of Buck Rogers, he excelled in both his studies and athletics at McMinnville High. He had an older brother who was a Navy pilot, and Jerry looked to follow in his footsteps by attending the Naval Academy after graduation from Oregon State University. But fate had a different plan. While applying to Annapolis, he got a job with North American Aviation’s Rocketdyne division, and was swept up into a project working on rocket engines for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. He found that engineering paid more than the military, and now married to his college sweetheart Mary, he decided to give up on the Navy. Soon, his work brought him into contact with some of the top people in the field of rocketry; Werhner Von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists. Creators of the world’s first liquid fueled rocket, they were shooting for a big target – the Moon. To get to the Moon, NASA was creating the Saturn V; the most powerful rocket ever built. Rocketdyne was building all of the engines and Florey was in the midst of it, supervising the design, testing and production of the J-2 engines for the second and third stages. The first successful liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen fueled engines, the J-2s were crucial to the Apollo mission, so it was no surprise that Jerry was involved with the failure analysis that went on in Mission Control when one of Apollo 13’s J-2 engines shut down early. After the tremendous success of Apollo, both NASA and Florey moved on to other projects. First working on the second stage for Saturn V that would boost Skylab into orbit, he then supported the design of America’s newest space vehicle, the Space Shuttle. Subsequently, he became the Chief Engineer with Rockwell’s Satellite Systems Division, involved with a number of high profile projects including Space Shuttle payload integration, classified surveillance satellites, kinetic energy anti-satellite vehicles, and perhaps most importantly, the GPS satellites that are at the heart of direction-finding systems used all over the world today. Transferring to McDonnell-Douglas in 1989, Florey went on to take charge of the Long Range Strategic Development on the RS-65 engines for the Delta IV Expendable Launch Vehicle; a new rocket that is taking over the heavily lifting duties in space from the older Titan and Atlas rockets. After a career spent in service to the aerospace industry as an engineer, a manager and a member of the Board of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Jerry is now enjoying a well earned retirement. Though his talent and contributions to the aerospace industry, Jerry J. Florey has placed all mankind firmly on the road to space and beyond.
Like many people, David Griggs lived a life full of adventure that took him around the planet, but unlike most, his adventures even took him off the planet! Born in Portland, the adventure started early when his parents moved to Alaska to build a home in the wilderness and the family lived in tents. He returned to Portland and graduated from Lincoln High before going on to U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. After graduation in 1962, he trained as a naval aviator and was assigned to VA- 72 flying the A-4 Skyhawk off the USS Independence and USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. He deployed on three cruises, two of which saw him flying combat missions in the dangerous skies over Vietnam. Next, Griggs attended the Naval Test Pilot School and was soon testing a variety of new aircraft with the Flying Qualities and Performance Branch. Among the programs he was heavily involved in was the testing of the EA-6B Prowler; the Navy’s premier electronics warfare aircraft. In 1970, David’s adventures took another turn as he resigned his regular Navy commission, joined the Naval Reserve, where he would attain the rank of Rear Admiral and became a research pilot for NASA. Design was just beginning on the Space Shuttle, and in 1974 he became the project pilot for the development and testing of the Shuttle Training Aircraft, used to simulate the Shuttle’s approach to landing. Appointed Chief of Shuttle Training Aircraft Operations, he was selected to be an astronaut in 1978 and completed training a year later. For the next four years, he worked on engineering projects critical to the Shuttle’s operation including the Heads-up display and a Manned Maneuvering Unit. In 1983, Griggs was chosen to be a mission specialist on mission STS-51D, and two years of intensive training followed, which were put to use when the Discovery lifted off for a seven day mission in April 1985. During the flight, the crew deployed two satellites, however one quickly ran into trouble when its antennas and spin stabilizer failed to activate. Along with Jeffrey Hoffman, Griggs performed a space walk to attach an improvised tool to robot arm to flip a switch on the satellite and in the process, demonstrated the flexibility of humans in space during history’s first un-planned EVA. Dave also became famous in classrooms around the world while filming demonstrations for an educational video about toys in space. Following that flight, he began training for a second shuttle mission; this time as a pilot, but those plans were tragically cut short in June 1989. Just shy of 50 years old, David Griggs lost his life in an accident flying a World War II T-6 Texan. He left behind his wife Karen and two daughters; Alison and Carre. Griggs had logged over 9,500 hours flying in over 45 different types of aircraft, and was accorded many honors including the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, fifteen Air Medals, the NASA Achievement Award and the NASA Sustained Superior Performance Award. Living a life of adventure, Rear Admiral David Griggs blazed a trail to the stars that is an inspiration to all.
From its beginning, aviation has been an enterprise for people with a pioneering spirit, and Joe Soloy was in every way a pioneer; from the opening of new frontiers to the creation of new tools for flight. Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Kent, Washington, Joe grew up during the “Golden Age” of aviation and developed a fascination for flight at an early age. Proud of America, he served as a radar operator on a US Coast Guard cutter in World War II, where he got a taste for the Arctic during patrols in the Aleutian Islands. Then, after the war he returned to Washington, married his high school sweetheart Phyllis, and went to work in maintenance for Pan American Airways. Beginning in 1950, after earning his wings in airplanes and helicopters, Soloy participated in some of the earliest commercial uses of the helicopter when he put to sea aboard a whaling ship belonging to Aristotle Onassis. The six month cruise took him to the ends of the Earth, as he flew and maintained a Hiller 360 helicopter during an expedition to the Antarctic. In 1951, Soloy came to McMinnville, Oregon to work for Dean Johnson as an agricultural applications pilot. The 1950s were a wide open world for helicopters as new uses were found daily for the versatile flying machine; much of that due to the pioneering work of pilots such as Soloy and others who worked for Johnson. In 1954, Joe returned to Alaska, to develop the market for helicopters and would end up working there for 13 years, first with Dean Johnson, and then with Temsco Helicopters, a company he co-founded in Ketchikan. An acronym of Timber, Exploration, Mining, Survey, Cargo and Operations, the company worked with all of these industries and in the process, re-wrote the role of the helicopter as a tool for commerce. In 1967, Soloy and two other pilots also demonstrated the helicopter’s role as a lifesaver on the last frontier, when they flew for five days straight from dawn to dark, rescuing people off of roof-tops during a major flood in Fairbanks. At Merric Helicopters, which he co-founded in 1963 with Merrill and Richard Wein, Soloy began work on converting Hiller 12E helicopters from piston engines to turbine engines; a project that would become his life’s work. Based on his real world experience of surviving multiple piston engine failures the goal was to increase safety and reliability. These conversions became incredibly successful and Joe founded his own company in 1969 to convert Hillers. He eventually converted 140 Hiller 12Es to turbine power, then turned his efforts to Bell Model 47s and Cessnas, all with the goal of boosting reliability, power and safety. The aviation world took note of his efforts and today, Soloy Aviation Solutions, is a recognized world leader in turbine aircraft conversions. Joe Soloy passed away in February 2004, after 35 years as President and then Chairman of the company he founded. In his honor, February 7 was designated “Joe Soloy Day” by the Governor of Alaska; a lasting tribute to a man who pioneered the use of the helicopter at the ends of the earth.
Few people start their day with the thought that today, they will make history. While it is impossible to know what Ensign Grant Teats was thinking on the morning of June 4th, 1942, he must have known that he was part of something momentous as he headed off to confront the Japanese fleet at Midway. Born and raised in Sheridan, Grant Teats came from a family whose Oregon roots were deep. His father was a retired high school principal who ran an insurance agency while his mother, a former teacher, ran a small café. Grant was a serious, studious young man who worked hard to make his family proud. He attended Oregon State University where he excelled in his studies and set numerous records in Track & Field. In the summers, he returned home to work in lumber camps or a plywood mill. During his sophomore year, Teats became enamored with flying, and from there on, the sky was no limit. He joined the college flying program and after graduation, entered the Navy to become an aviator. Upon completion of flight training, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron VT-8 flying the TBD Devastator at Norfolk, Virginia. In March 1942, the squadron embarked on the Navy’s newest carrier, the USS Hornet, when it left for the Pacific. While life aboard a carrier could be boring, Teats managed to enliven things with his mastery of poker, where his monthly winnings often exceeded his paycheck! He also had a dry sense of humor that earned him his nickname, “Plywood.” Once, during a lull in the action, he walked to the front of the ready room and announced “It has come to my attention that no one here is familiar with the process of making plywood. Let me enlighten you.” His lecture set a new standard for ship-board entertainment. On June 4th, 1942, VT-8 was called upon to fly its first combat mission and it was to be a big one. They took off into battle flying their obsolete TBDs, loaded with often defective torpedoes, with no protective fighter cover to attack the entire Japanese fleet bearing down on Midway Island. Grant and the others pressed home an attack on the carrier Soryu, but flying slow and level for a proper torpedo drop, the Devastators made easy targets for the shipboard gunners and Zero fighters. One by one, the fifteen airplanes were shot out of the sky, vanishing in flame and smoke. Only one pilot survived the ditching of his plane and no hits were scored. Torpedo Squadron Eight had ceased to exist. Despite their loss, the men of Torpedo Eight did not die in vain. With the Japanese fighters down at sea level attacking the torpedo bombers, American dive bombers were able to sweep in unmolested and plant their bombs squarely on the four Japanese carriers, sinking them all. The sacrifice of Teats and his squadron turned the tide of World War II, dealing the Japanese a crippling blow from which they would never recover. For his bravery, Ensign Grant Teats would posthumously receive the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart.
Henry “Hank” Troh grew up in Glenwood, Washington and developed a love of machinery as a child, so that even before he graduated from high school, was running steam shovels to help build the locks on the Columbia River. While working this job, he met his wife Ruth, who was to become an integral part of his adventures in flying. Beginning lessons in 1932, Troh bought a Bird CK biplane and used it to barnstorm the Willamette Valley, giving hundreds of people their first flight. He also used it to haul fish, tow banners and provide flight instruction. By 1937, the Trohs realized a dream by creating their own airport east of Portland. It featured two runways, a hanger, and a residence which doubled as an office for Troh’s Air Taxi Company, and remained a hub of general aviation until it closed following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Troh then headed to California and became an instructor for the military with Tex Rankin’s flight school. Once the war ended, Troh returned to start work on another airport. Partnering with Harold Wagner, he created “Troh’s Skyport”, with a bigger hangar, offices and a café. Constant promoters of general aviation, Hank and Ruth put on air shows, held competitions, sold aircraft and instructed; all part of their dream to get people flying. Pilots made the Skyport a fun and light-hearted place to be, but sadly, it would not last. By 1959, development encroached to the point where it was forced to close. Undaunted, Troh opened his third airport, the “Troh’s Nest,” in Clackamas County. For ten years he operated a charter flying service out of this airport, before he passed away at the age of 57. A tireless supporter of aviation, Henry P. Troh left a lasting legacy in the thousands of people he taught and inspired.
United States Marine Corp (Retired) Colonel Larry Wood was born in McMinnville and raised in Portland, Oregon. Following graduation from Benson Polytechnic High School, he attended the University of Washington on a Navy ROTC Scholarship, graduating with a BS in Biological Oceanography in December 1966. He was commissioned a 2/Lt in the USMC at that same time. Following the Basic School, Colonel Wood was one of the first Marines to attend USAF Pilot Training at Vance AFB, OK, receiving his USAF wings in June of 1968. After additional training in the TA-4F at MCAS Cherry Point, NC, he received his Naval Aviator Wings from Major General Marion Carl in October 1968, and was sent to VMA-331 at MCAS Beaufort, SC, for training in the A-4E Skyhawk aircraft. In March 1969, Colonel Wood reported to Marine Attack Squadron 211 in Chu Lai, Vietnam as a squadron pilot flying the A-4E, and in August, he was transferred to Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 11, Da Nang, Vietnam, to finish his combat tour in the TA-4F as a fast FAC(A)/TAC(A). Colonel Wood flew a total of 295 combat missions. In March 1970 he reported to Marine Attack Training Squadron 102 MCAS Yuma, AZ, as an instructor pilot, squadron safety officer, and group safety officer, flying the A-4B, A-4C, A-4E, A-4F and TA-4F and J. In 1973 Colonel Wood attended Amphibious Warfare School, graduating with distinction in June of that year. His next assignment was as aircraft maintenance officer in VMA-324 and VMA-311 at MCAS Beaufort, flying the A-4M aircraft. In 1975 Colonel Wood returned to the Western Pacific and served as aircraft maintenance officer of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, flying the venerable C-117D, Super DC-3 aircraft throughout Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Returning to the U.S. he was sent to NAS Beeville, TX, as an instructor pilot and aircraft maintenance officer in Training Squadron 26, flying the T-2C Buckeye. Colonel Wood next attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, VA, graduating with distinction in June of 1980. Returning to VMAT-102 as Executive Officer, Colonel Wood spent the next four years in Yuma, with follow-on assignments as Group Operations Officer, Group Executive Officer, and Executive Officer/Head of the Tactics Development and Evaluation Branch of Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1. While at MAWTS, he had the opportunity to fly the AH-1 Cobra, the OV-10 Bronco, and the A-4M/OA-4M Skyhawk. Colonel Wood commanded Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 12 in Iwakuni, Japan from July 1984 to July 1986, flying the OA-4M in the FAC(A)/TAC(A) role throughout WestPac. The squadron earned the Meritorious Unit Citation for that period as the most productive H&MS in the Marine Corps. Following graduation with Honors from the US Naval War College in 1987, Colonel Wood served for three years as an instructor and sub-course coordinator in the National Security Decision Making Department until 1990. He next commanded Marine Air Group 49, NAS Willow Grove, PA, from 1990 – 1992 again flying the A-4M and TA-4F as well as the CH-53A/D SeaStallion helicopter. In 1992 he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps where he served as the Aviation Colonel’s Monitor, responsible for all aviation Colonel’s assignments throughout the Marine Corps until 1994. In 1994, Colonel Wood rejoined the faculty at the Naval War College, again serving as a professor in the National Security Decision Making Department and finally as the Marine Corps Representative to the President of the War College. Colonel Wood retired in June of 1997. Colonel Wood accumulated over 5300 accident-free flying hours, 3300 in the single engine A-4 aircraft with 295 combat missions. His personal awards include the Legion of Merit with gold star in lieu of a second award, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, 24 Strike/Flight Air Medals, and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V. His service medals and unit ribbons include the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 2 bronze stars, Naval Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation with 4 bronze stars, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Frame, Republic of Vietnam Civic Action with Palm and Frame, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Following retirement, he taught science for 8 years in the Salem-Keizer School District at Whiteaker and Claggett Creek Middle Schools. In 2006 he became a volunteer docent at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, later becoming education director in 2008 and subsequently executive director in 2010, a position he continues to hold. Colonel Wood is married to the former Judith Ann Stokes of Portland, Oregon, and has three grown children: Josh, a school teacher in Bothell, WA; Megan, a librarian at the UW in Seattle, and Maren, an education contractor and home maker in San Diego, CA. He and Judy have four grandchildren: Alexander age 10, Matthew age 8, Luke age 5 and Sydney age 3.
Like many who desired to fly, Owen “Lee” Gossett’s dream of flight started at an early age. Working as a gas boy at Medford Air Service, he traded work time for flight instruction and earned his pilot’s license two years before he graduated from high school. Still in school, Gossett trained as a smoke jumper for the Forest Service and served in that capacity for six seasons. In the early 1960s Air America was recruiting smoke jumpers as cargo droppers in Laos, and Gossett joined up, but left after a year to gain more flying time. That would be gained in New Zealand as a crop duster, in Medford as a forest fire recon pilot and as a bush pilot in Alaska. Finally achieving enough hours, he returned to Air America in 1966 to fly DeHavilland Caribous out of Saigon and Laos. After several years Gossett moved to Continental Air Services flying Pilatus Porters in Laos, and amassed over six and a half years flying in Southeast Asia. Leaving Continental in 1972, Lee returned to New Zealand to fly crop dusting and ski-planes for Mount Cook Airlines. In 1974 he moved to the US and worked on Forest Service contracts, flying fire lead planes and DC-7 air tankers. However, in 1979, he was recruited back into the intelligence community to fly missions all over the world in STOL aircraft, on a full and part time basis. Gossett was assigned to a newly formed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program in 1986 which was developing an aircraft called the Eagle. A highly modified Rutan Long EZ, the Eagle was a fore-runner to the UAVs such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. Owen “Lee” Gossett retired in 2004 and still flies his Piper Cherokee and Super Cub from his home in Eagle Point, Oregon.
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Terry Olson enlisted in the Army in 1965 and originally trained as a translator. But, responding to Army recruiting for flight candidates, he applied and was accepted for flight school and learned to fly helicopters. After graduation, Olson was assigned to the 162nd Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam, where he flew UH-1 Hueys on combat assault, re-supply, medevac, and Special Forces support missions. After his first tour, he transitioned into the CH-47 Chinook, and headed back for a second tour. Olson was honorably discharged in 1969, having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal for Valor and Air Medal with 65 Oak Leaf Clusters. Beginning in 1971 he returned to Southeast Asia, flying with Air America. During the clandestine war in Laos, he flew support for the Hmong tribesmen, but his most memorable missions came during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, where Olson pulled people off of rooftops and ferried them to the US fleet. In early 1975 it was announced that Air America was being sold, and Olson applied to Evergreen Helicopters in McMinnville. Thus, he began 23 years with the company flying on jobs ranging from fire fighting and spraying, to logging, seismic, construction, offshore, night IFR external loads and drug interdiction missions around the world. Some of the most challenging were for the State Department to combat the drug trade in Mexico and Peru. In 1990, Olson joined Horizon Air to achieve his dream of flying for an airline and spent eleven and a half years captaining Metroliners, Dash 8s and the Fokker F28s. Required to retire at 60, he returned to Evergreen for 8 more years, flying the Sikorsky Skycrane. Terry Olson retired for good in 2009 with 14,558 rotary wing and 9815 fixed wing flight hours. Today, he resides in McMinnville, Oregon.
Perhaps it was patriotism, or adventure that spurred William Ault to join the US Navy during World War I, but it was the beginning of a distinguished career for the young man from Enterprise, Oregon. Born in 1898, Ault enlisted in 1917 and after a year of duty, was appointed to the Naval Academy, graduating with the class of 1922. He was accepted for flight training and received his wings in May, 1925. Ault was assigned to the cruiser USS Cincinnati flying a floatplane, before tours as an instructor at the Naval Academy and with VMO-3. Another assignment to the Academy was followed by tours with VP-10, VT- 1 aboard the USS Lexington, and the USS Mississippi. Ault was next assigned to the fitting out of the new carrier USS Yorktown before going on to USS Enterprise to command VT-6. In July, 1941, he returned to the Lexington as Air Group Commander; a position he held when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. Then, on May 7th 1942, Ault took Lexington’s airmen into combat and into the history books, at the Battle of Coral Sea. Flying an SBD Dauntless, he led the attack that sank the Japanese carrier Shoho. The next day, he scored a hit that disabled the carrier Shokaku before his SBD was attacked by Japanese fighters and both Ault and his gunner were wounded. They ditched in the ocean and were never seen again. Commander Ault’s leadership helped turn back the Japanese at Coral Sea and set the stage for the decisive Battle of Midway. For his courage he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. The following year, the Navy named the destroyer USS Ault in his honor, as well as the airfield at NAS Whidbey Island; lasting tributes to an Oregonian who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Born and raised in McMinnville, OR, Colin Armstrong has seen the city mature into what it is today. He attended McMinnville High School, graduating in 1941, and went on to receive a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Linfield College. Armstrong was also a Yamhill County Commissioner for eight years. He became a volunteer docent almost two years ago and continues to take part in the progression of The Institute. Armstrong enjoys the fellowship with the other volunteers and listening to the visitor's stories and experiences. He was an U.S. Navy carrier pilot for thirty years, as well as a Navy Meteorologist and Oceanographer. While serving in the Navy, Armstrong was the first pilot to transfer a nuclear bomb from one aircraft carrier to another. He also added that he has flown several of the Navy type aircraft included in the Museum's collection. When Armstrong is not volunteering for the museum, he enjoys restoring Lincoln Continental convertibles from the 1960's, architectural drafting, woodworking and construction. Armstrong and his wife, Milly Lou, live in McMinnville. They have three children; Laura Gay Welliver, Daniel and Douglas.
Robert M. Elder was born in Saskatchewan, Canada on December 5, 1918. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle as a Naval ROTC student, where he majored in Aero Engineering. Elder commenced his flight training at Pensacola, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the USNR in May of 1941. In June, Elder was assigned to Bombing Squadron 3, “the Black Panthers," who were at that time were equipped with Douglas Dauntless SBD-3 bombers, and were assigned to the USS Saratoga (CV-3) based in San Diego. With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elder and his squadron mates from VB-3 would be soon be involved in the heat of battle in the Pacific. Elder flew numerous bombing missions during the Battle of the Coral Sea. During the Battle of Midway, VB-3 flying off the USS Yorktown, along with bombers from the USS Enterprise, sunk three Japanese aircraft carriers in a matter of minutes. This would prove to be the turning point in the War in the Pacific. Elder would later fly in both the Guadalcanal and Easter Solomons campaigns. He was awarded two Navy Crosses, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and received two Presidential Unit Citations. Following the War, Elder remained in the Navy. He was one of the first graduates from the Navy's test pilot training school in 1950. He was also one of the first Naval aviators to fly jet aircraft, and he participated in developmental flights on both the F8F Bearcat and the F7F Tigercat. On the former Elder carrier qualified the aircraft. In 1953 Elder returned to combat duty with VF-191 flying off the USS Oriskany. Subsequently he commanded Carrier Air Group 12, the USS Waccamaw, and the USS Coral Sea. Following the Korean War, Elder continued to fly. In 1957 Bob was assigned as Director of the Flight Test Division at the Navy's Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland. Here Bob personally conducted initial test flights on many of the Navy's new supersonic fighter aircraft including the F3H Demon, F11F Tiger, the F-4 Phantom II, the A-5 Vigilante, and the F8U-3 Crusader II. Elder retired from the Navy in 1963. He then worked for the Northrop Corporation for 23 years, holding the positions of Chief Test Pilot, Director of Flight Operations, and Head of Flight Test and Evaluation. He was one of the driving forces behind the programs which evolved into the F/A- 18 Hornet. Bob also was founder of the Tailhook Association, and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1964. During his amazing flying career, Bob Elder has flown more than 8,000 flight hours in 142 different types of aircraft. He has become carrier qualified in 35 different aircraft, and has made almost 1,000 carrier landings. Bob also served as President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He died 12th September 2008.
O’Grady learned to fly in 1940 while working for Boeing and became an instructor at Coeur D’Alene, Idaho before joining the Air Corps in 1941. He flew with the 6th Ferry Group where he instructed on numerous types of fighters, bombers and cargo aircraft before being sent to the CBI to fly 79 trips “Over the Hump.” After the war he flew with the Air Force Reserve before joining the Oregon Air National Guard. He rose to command the entire Oregon Air National Guard before retirement in 1978. On the civilian side, O’Grady flew with West Coast Airlines from its start, through various mergers until retiring from Republic Airlines in 1982. He had 37,000 accident free hours in over 120 different types of aircraft,
A 1948 graduate of Parkrose High in Portland, Martin “Marty” Bergan headed off to Linfield College to pursue a physical education degree, but found himself in the Air Force instead. Rather than be drafted, he signed up for the Aviation Cadet Program and was accepted in 1951 earning a commission and his wings a year later. Bergen was sent to Korea to fly close air support in F-84s with the 49th FBG, amassing over 100 combat missions and receiving a DFC, and Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters. In 1955, Bergan joined the Oregon Air National Guard to fly F-86 Sabres while completing his education at Linfield College. He went on to teach at Franklin High School until 1965 when he was offered a full time position with the Guard, where he flew the F-89 Scorpion, the F-94 Starfire and the F-102 Delta Dagger. Promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1968, he participated in the Air Force “William Tell” Weapons competition with the 123rd FS in 1970 and went on to direct aircrew training during the transition to the F-101 Voodoo. Then in 1976 as squadron commander he went back to “William Tell,” leading the unit to a first place finish. He was promoted to Deputy Commander of the 142nd FIG in 1978 and led the conversion to the F-4C Phantom II, bringing the unit to readiness ahead of schedule. Later, with the re-opening of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls in 1981, Bergan was selected as Alert Detachment Commander. Bergan retired in 1985 having flown over 7000 hours. He continued to serve his community, volunteering as the Linfield College Women’s Golf Team coach and as a docent with the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. Martin T. Bergen and his wife Margie still live in McMinnville, Oregon.
After graduation from WyEast High School in 1954, Diebert joined the Marine Corps and served as a radio operator. After his return to Oregon as a Marine Reservist, he was encouraged to transfer to the Oregon National Guard. He attended OCS, flight school, jump school, and jungle survival school before volunteering for Vietnam in 1966. Serving as a platoon leader in the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company, he flew a Cessna O-1 Bird Dog. On September 10, 1967 Deibert was called in to support a thousand Marines at Con Thien, who were under artillery and “human wave assaults” from the NVA. For seven hours, he flew through heavy ground fire, calling in support, and identifying enemy positions with white phosphorus rockets. He hit three NVA machine gun positions, killing the crews, and discovered a safe route for helicopters to come in for recovery of the Marines. He also led a force back to retrieve 20 wounded and dead Marines pinned in a bomb crater. He received the Navy Cross for his actions on that mission. Overall, Deibert flew over 570 missions, earning two Disitinguished Flying Crosses, three Vietnam Crosses for Gallantry, a Bronze Star, two Meritorious Service Medals and the Distinguished Service Cross, making him the most decorated Oregon aviator. Deibert retired from the military after 22 years and was appointed Civilian Aide to the US Secretary of the Army and serves as liaison between the Army and the State of Oregon.
Robert Emmens graduated from Medford High School in 1931 and headed for the University of Oregon, but had to drop out to work when his father died. A friend got him interested in flying and he quickly soloed in a Piper Cub. Then, in 1937, he heard the Army looking for pilots and he eagerly joined for an opportunity to fly and be paid to do it! Following training, he was assigned to the 17th Bomb Group at March Field in 1938, flying the A-17, B-18, B-23 and finally the new B-25 Mitchell. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, secret plans were made to strike back and the 17th Bomb Group was selected to carry out a carrier-based raid on Japan, headed by Lt. Col. James Doolittle. Emmens was initially not chosen to participate in the raid, however, a problem with one of the B-25s required him to ferry an alternate aircraft to California. Once there, he convinced Doolittle to let him fly the mission. On April 18, 1942, Emmens’ crew launched from the USS Hornet, and successfully bombed Tokyo but found themselves short of fuel and opted to land in Russia. The crew was interned by the Soviets and held over a year before they were able to escape through Iran. During his imprisonment, Emmens learned to speak Russian, so in 1944 he was sent to Romania as the Military Air Attaché. In 1956 he was promoted to Colonel and served in intelligence, before commanding the 342nd Fighter Wing. He also served as Japan as Air Attaché and District Commander with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, before retirement in 1964. Upon leaving the Air Force, he returned to Medford, where he began a career in real estate. Robert G. Emmens passed away in 1992.
Mr. Olson’s love of aviation began at 15 years old as a student pilot flying Cessna 180 and Piper Super Cubs. In 1987 he graduated from Hemingford High School in Nebraska. He attended Cheyenne Aero Tech in Wyoming graduating with Honors in October of 1988, where he obtained his Airframe and Powerplant license. In 1988 Mr. Olson was employed as an A & P Mechanic working for Petroleum Helicopters on Bell 212s, 412s, and Puma heavy maintenance checks. He joined Evergreen Air Center in Marana, Arizona as an A & P Mechanic in October of 1989, performing C and D checks on Evergreen’s fleet of 747-100 and -200 series aircraft. While employed by the Maintenance Center Mr. Olson supported Evergreen Airlines on vital contracts, including UPS Peak season rush, as well as Hadj movement from Jakarta, Indonesia to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In September of 1990 Mr. Olson transferred from Evergreen Maintenance Center to Evergreen International Airlines, where he supported Hong Kong’s commercial contracts along with Qantas, Air New Zealand ACMI contracts, Japan Airlines ACMI contract, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, and the Battle of Mogadishu for the Department of Defense. Since joining Evergreen he has held the titles of A & P Mechanic, Senior Maintenance Representative, Heavy Check Maintenance Representative, Maintenance Control Representative, and Director of Maintenance. Mr. Olson was promoted to Vice President of Maintenance for Evergreen International Airlines and directs worldwide supervision of all maintenance functions, including the holder of the 119 DOM position on the FAA’s Operational Specification. He provides oversight for Maintenance Control, Maintenance Planning, Aircraft Records, and is a voting member of the Reliability Control Board. Mr. Olson’s responsibilities include the management, effectiveness, and regulatory compliance of all personnel, which includes over 100 Airframe and Powerplant Technicians in over 20 different destinations worldwide. He has ensured that the continuous maintenance program is providing serviceable and airworthy aircraft to meet operational requirements while ensuring adequate levels of equipment and materials are available to support airline operations which included the transition from Boeing 747 classic to the newer Boeing 747-400 series aircraft. He continually evaluates new methods, products, and equipment which resulted in improved aircraft performance and reliability, while reducing costs and maintaining a maximum level of schedule integrity. Mr. Olson has been based in Sydney, Australia, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, California, Marana, Arizona, and McMinnville, Oregon. Mr. Olson’s goal is to provide that safest and most reliable aircraft to meet and exceed all customer requirements. It is often said by Mr. Olson this is a team effort and without that team none of this would have been possible.
William Phillips grew up in Los Angeles and traced his first artistic moment to age 5, when he marveled at the vivid colors of a yellow Stearman crossing a blue sky dappled with white clouds. Fascinated by flight, he would go down to the Van Nuys airport to sketch the California Air Guard F-86 Sabres. Unable to afford college, he joined the Air Force in 1963, and was trained as a security police officer. Phillips was stationed Minot AFB and Portland, Oregon before being sent to Vietnam, where night duty allowed him time to sketch during the day. Upon discharge from the Air Force, he went to college and majored in criminal justice because he felt art was not a practical career. In 1971, four of his paintings in the Medford Airport Restaurant were sold and Phillips changed his mind. In 1973 Phillips painted a special commission for the USAF Academy, and shortly thereafter was invited to join the Air Force Art Program. His fame grew and his work was selected for a one man show at the National Air & Space Museum in 1986; an honor reserved for few artists. Two years later, the US Navy chose him to be a combat artist and sent him to the Persian Gulf to observe operation; for which he was awarded their Meritorious Public Service Award. Phillips was also commissioned by King Hussein to create a series of paintings which now hang in the Royal Jordanian Air Force Museum. Twice he was selected to create artwork for US Postage stamps honoring historic aircraft. With a command of the medium and composition, his eye for weather, light, shadow, a love of aircraft, William S. Phillips creates paintings which capture the power, grace, and majesty of flight. He makes his home in Ashland, Oregon with his wife Kristi.
As kids growing up in Cornelius, Oregon, Richard “Dick” VanGrunsven and his brother Jerry had a love of aviation inspired by their father’s stories of flying in the 1930s. Learning to fly at 15, Dick and his brother bought a Piper Cub and spent every free minute aloft. He acquired his CFI, IFR and ATP ratings before attending the University of Portland to get a degree in engineering. After graduation, he joined the Air Force, where he began his relationship with homebuilt aircraft. He acquired a Stitts Playboy in 1962, but was unhappy with its performance, so he modified it with a wing that he designed and built. This was the RV-1. VanGrunsven next worked on the RV-3, a “clean sheet” design incorporating an all-aluminum structure that flew in 1971. Its high speed and aerobatic performance created so much interest that he started Van’s Aircraft to produce kits. Since then, VanGrunsven established a plant in Aurora that employs 50 people and has sold 18,000 kits or sets of plans. Builders have completed over 8000 aircraft, making it the most successful homebuilt aircraft company in history. Among his most popular designs was the 1986 RV-6, which followed the changing demographics of the flying public. Its side-by-side seating reflecting the fact that more pilots were being trained in side by side aircraft and were comfortable with that arrangement. In 2003 VanGrunsven created a four place aircraft with the RV-10 and his current design, the RV-12, is designed for the Light Sport Aircraft market, showing his commitment to creating aircraft that home-builders want. Today, over 20% of the single-engine aircraft flying in the United States are VanGrunsven designs; a testament to the efficiency, affordability and performance of the aircraft that he creates. Richard VanGrunsven and his wife Diane live in North Plains, Oregon.
Born in Mapleton, Iowa, Ernest “Ernie” Wakehouse always seemed to be in motion. After graduation from high school, he headed for California, so he hitchhiked west; ending up working construction jobs in Oregon. In 1943 he took the test to become an Army aviation cadet and was accepted into flight training and eventually became a fighter pilot, flying the P-51 Mustang. But the World War II ended and he left the Army to open an auto repair business. But he still wanted to fly Mustangs, so he joined the Oregon Air National Guard’s 123rd Fighter Squadron in 1949. With the start of the Korean War in 1950, Wakehouse was recalled to active duty and found himself flying ground attack missions with the 39th FBS. He racked up an impressive 100 missions in less than 90 days, flying low-level strikes throughout North Korea. He returned to the Air Guard and learned to fly jets, but with a yearning to be back in business, he left the Guard in 1952. He continued to fly while growing his auto dealership business. In 1968, Wakehouse bought a Beechcraft Debonair and became a member of the Columbia Aviation Association. He also took the opportunity to co-pilot a Learjet on charter flights that took him all over the country and in 1975 started his own charter business, but it was short-lived and he went back to flying for fun. He traded in his Debonair and upgraded to a Beech Bonanza in 1985. Although he retired in 1986, Wakehouse remained active in aviation and continued flying until age 89, when he sold his Bonanza after 26 years of service. Ernest Wakehouse amassed over 6000 flying hours, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters and numerous other awards. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Larry Brown was the son of a Navy airman and always knew he wanted to fly. After attending Clark Community College, he went to Army flight school in 1966 and graduated as a Warrant Officer. He was assigned to Vietnam as an Aero Scout pilot flying the OH-13 and OH-6 with the 1st Squadron, 9/1 Air Cavalry. Brown next served as a flight instructor before receiving a commission to 2nd Lieutenant and assignment to develop Aero Scout tactics and training. He returned to Vietnam as an Aero Scout with 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, before being given command of E Troop, 1st Squadron, 9/1 Air Cav. He then went on to fly the CH-54 Skycrane in Germany with the 295th Aviation Company. In 1973, Brown left active duty and came to Evergreen Helicopters, to fly Bell 205s and S-64 Skycranes for heavy lift, logging, and fire-fighting. He rose to the position of Chief Pilot before leaving in 1975. Brown returned in 2000 as Director of Operations before moving on to other companies to fly the Skycrane on many fire-fighting jobs. Brown also continued to serve his country as an Oregon National Guardsman. Joining the 1st BTN, 162th Infantry in 1976, he was later assigned to the newly formed 1st BTN 249th Infantry Division. He continued to be promoted, served with the 82nd Brigade, and commanded the 3-186th Infantry AA Battalion. In November 1995, he became Director of Military Personnel for the Oregon NG. His 1996 retirement marked thirty years of service to his country. Brown has amassed 13,516 hours of flight time, and earned awards including the Silver Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, the and the Purple Heart with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters. Larry Brown and his wife live in McMinnville, Oregon.
Born in Quincy, Illinois, Leo Demers developed an interest in aviation as a teen and learned to fly in a Stinson monoplane. In 1939, he opened a welding company before an opportunity with a crop dusting service took him to Mississippi. Although he wanted to fly for the military after Pearl Harbor, he was turned down because of his age and the importance of his agricultural work. After World War II, Demers moved to Salem, Oregon as he had heard there were great opportunities for crop dusters. He started Ace Flying Services with some surplus Stearmans, and while the bulk of his work was agricultural, he also ran a flying school. In 1949, he purchased several B-18 Bolo bombers and converted them to sprayers to counter spruce budworms on the slopes of Mt. Hood. By 1950 he had 60 aircraft employed on jobs for the Forest Service, the BLM and the Department of Agriculture. In 1959, a downturn in pesticide spraying caused Ace Flying Service to slip into bankruptcy. Demers bounced back and restarted his business in Aurora, and built T-hangars to attract private aviation to the airport. A year later, he was asked to manage the Madras airport and provide FBO services, so once again his business expanded. During the mid-1960s Demers realized that the airflow over the wings of his aircraft was not optimum and he developed specialized drooped wingtips to increase the wing efficiency of his Stearmans. The Demers “Super Tips” proved to be popular with crop dusters and sold worldwide from 1967 to 2000. For fun, Demers also owned several World War II fighters including two P-40 Warhawks, a P-39 Airacobra and an F8F Bearcat. He continued crop dusting until a serious stroke grounded him in 1994. Leo J. Demers, Sr. passed away in 1999.
Born in Spring Valley, New York, Gilbert Eckerson headed west as a young man to seek adventure. Enlisting in the US Army in 1912 he served in the Artillery and Quartermasters Corps before being accepted to OCS and commissioned a Captain in 1917. Eckerson then developed an interest in flying and went to flight school where he received his wings in March 1918. He was assigned to stateside duty and did not see combat, but after World War I he remained part of the Air Service Officer Reserve Corps. Leaving the Army, Eckerson settled in Eugene and flew as a pilot for Hobi Airways. There, he participated in many pioneering efforts including the first agricultural use of an airplane in Oregon, spreading grass seed from a Traverlaire biplane. In April, 1928 he opened a flying school in Springfield, OR with a branch in Medford, and became a Waco Aircraft dealer. He participated in the 1929 National Air Races in Cleveland, and placed 5th in a race from Portland to Cleveland. At the Races, he performed an aerobatic routine that wowed the crowds and garnered many employment offers. Eckerson went to work as Chief Test Pilot for Breese Aircraft, who were designing and building aircraft in Beaverton. On July 22, 1930, he took off on a flight in a Breese monoplane intending to fly cross-country to New York with just one fuel stop. The aircraft, named “On To Oregon” was to demonstrate the viability of an air route from coast to coast. Unfortunately, a new engine cowling installed before the flight funneled carbon monoxide into the cockpit. Eckerson attempted to land but was overcome by the fumes and crashed near Butte, Montana. Due to the injuries suffered in the crash, Major Gilbert Eckerson passed away in 1933. His ashes placed in an aircraft shaped urn.
Born in Portland, Peter Tunno was enthralled with flight from an early age. He attended Benson High to study aviation, and learned to fly a Piper Cub at Swan Island; soloing at 16. But times were tough and he joined the Marine Corps to serve in a MP. He still wanted to fly and was planning to join the Royal Canadian Air Force when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Tunno was then transferred to Marine pilot training and achieved the highest scores to date at Pensacola in Celestial Navigation. He won his wings as a Master Sergeant and was assigned to VMF-113 at MCAS El Toro, flying the F4U Corsair. The unit was sent into combat in the Marshall Islands and during a raid on Ponape in May, 1944, Tunno shot down a Japanese fighter. Subsequently, he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant. In addition to flying the Corsair, Tunno worked with Vought service techs to engineer improvements to the tail wheel assembly. After the war Tunno returned to Portland to start a family, but the peace was short. Having resigned his reserve commission in 1948, he re-enlisted for the Korean War, but was denied flight status; instead serving in maintenance with VMF-323. After Korea, he remained in the service and restored a Stearman biplane for fun; using it to tow banners and fly in airshows. Upon leaving the Marines, Tunno returned to Oregon and settled in Estacada, where he next restored an N3N biplane that he flew in airshows, performing aerobatic routines to thrill the crowds. He was a long-time member of the Northwest Antique Aviation Club and was a regular at their fly-ins. Tunno was also committed to serving others, and volunteered over a decade with the Meals on Wheels program. Peter P. Tunno passed away in 2005 in Santa Paula, California
Born 1913 in Des Moines, Robert Young entered a world where aviation was becoming a global force for change. He moved to Forest Grove at the age of 12, and he began flying lessons at 19 utilizing a scholarship from his aunt. He studied at the Oregon Institute of Technology, and flew with instructors such as Tex Rankin, earning his license in 1933. He repaid his aunt by flying her to Kansas on his first cross country flight! Young also participated in the 1937 OPA Air Tour, which took a fleet of aircraft to cities around Oregon demonstrating the reliability of modern airplanes. In 1941, Young attempted to join the US Army Air Corps, but he was rejected due to his age and because he had a family. Undeterred, he met with a recruiter for the Royal Canadian Air Force and signed up. Sent to Bombing & Gunnery School, he flew the Fairey Battle to train bombardiers and gunners. Then, after Pearl Harbor, the US Army decided that it did need him and offered him a commission. Young took multi-engine training before being sent to India in 1943, to fly C-46s and C-47s over the Himalayas. He flew 142 missions across “the Hump” in 18 months and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. After the war, Young served in the USAF Reserve until his retirement in 1972 as a Lt. Colonel, while continuing to fly as a sport pilot. He moved to Midway in 1975 and became the Fire Chief after helping the community purchase a fire engine. He served in that capacity for 20 years. Robert M. Young passed away in Sisters, Oregon in 2000 after a lifetime of service to community and country
Captivated by flight after a 1931 ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, Drury Wood, Jr. learned to fly on a Piper Cub in 1942. Commissioned as a Marine aviator in World War II, he flew the F6F.Hellcat and F4U Corsair from the USS Bennington with VMF-123, winning a Distinguished Flying Cross during actions over Okinawa and Japan. Serving from 1946-48 as a Forward Air Controller with the 2" Marine Division, Wood was part of the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950. Wood attended the Naval Test Pilot School and became Operations Officer for the Naval Air Test Center's Tactical Division. He flew the first flights of the Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior, and the A-4B Skyhawk before going to Dornier Ag in Germany in 1964 to be involved in the Do-31 VTOL jet transport project. After learning to fly a "hover rig," Wood flew as pilot in command for the entire test program of the Do-31, right up to its cancellation in 1970. He was twice awarded the Ray E. Tenhoff Award by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) and the Iven C. Kincheloe Award for outstanding test piloting accomplishment in 1968 for his work on the Do-31. He also made the first flights of the Dornier Do-14T, and the Do-28, and is holder of five world records in the Do-31. After retirement he went on to serve as the President of the SETP, and mayor of Wesport, Washington. Drury W. Wood currently lives in Grants Pass, OR.
Since learning to fly in 1953 Jack Erickson has spent his succeeding years creating a diverse aviation legacy. Born to an Oregon timber family, a successful trial in heli-logging spawned Erickson Air-Crane Co. in 1971 and the use of the Sikorsky S64 Skycrane. The company redefined aerial heavy lift, in logging, firefighting, transmission tower erection and many limited access construction projects worldwide. The crowning project was the removal and replacement of the Statue of Freedom on the U.S. Capitol in 1993. At the time of its sale in 1997, the company operated 14 Skycranes, flying 20,000 annual flight hours, employed 800 people and with operations in United States, Canada and southeast Asia. Now in its fourth generation, Erickson Group subsidiaries conduct fixed wing medevac operations, corporate aircraft sales and maintenance (Aero Air-1998), modify 757 passenger aircraft to freighter / combi-configuration and provide engineering support to major airlines (Precision Aviation Group-2001), and are developing a fleet of MD87 tankers for firefighting operations (Erickson Aero Tanker-2012). After acquiring a North American P-51D in 1983 the Erickson Aircraft Collection has grown to 24 aircraft. A Boeing B-17G acquired joined a Lockheed P-38L, Republic P-47D and Nakajima KI-4311b as notable aircraft in this mostly flying collection. In 2014 the collection moved from Tillamook to a new central Oregon facility in Madras.
Harris originally enlisted for a tour in the Navy in 1936 and as radioman, performed some duties with the scout planes on the USS Houston. He left the Navy after one tour of duty but joined the Army Air Force in 1942 and was sent to fighter training on the P-38 Lightning. Harris was assigned to the 339th Fighter Squadron and thrown into the battle for Guadalcanal. Over the next three years, he would rise to the rank of Lt. Col. and be credited with 16 kills; becoming the second highest ranking ace in the 13th Air Force and 13th overall in the list of USAAF aces in the Pacific. He finished the war as commander of the 18th Fighter Group in the Philippines. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with 23 Oak Leaf Clusters. After the war Harris was placed on reserve duty in December, 1945 and returned to the family lumber business. He continued to fly as part of his daily work, and inspired three of his children to follow careers in aviation. He moved to Oregon in the 1976 and currently lives in Klamath Falls. For many years he has participated in programs for civic groups and presented heritage talks for the Oregon Air National Guard pilots at Kingsley Field, keeping alive the history and traditions of the air force and the men and women who helped to win the Second World War. The Klamath Falls Chapter of the Air Force Association has been named the Bill Harris Chapter in his honor.
Robert Snoddy grew up and went to high school in Roseburg, Oregon before attending Oregon State University to major in Aeronautical Engineering. In 1940 he joined the Civilian Pilot Training program and was placed on deferred Selective Service status. Then in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy and was accepted for the Naval Aviation Cadet program. Upon completion, Snoddy was sent to VB-115 to fly the PB4Y-1 Liberator on anti-sub, recon and anti-shipping missions. He was involved in the battles for New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Georgia, Suragao Straits and Leyte, and received a Navy Air Medal with 4 stars, a Purple Heart and several battle stars. After discharge from the Navy in 1946, Snoddy went to work for Hawaiian Airlines before returning to the mainland to continue his college career at the University of Washington. In 1948 he joined Civil Air Transport (CAT) in China, which was later acquired by the US Central Intelligence Agency. In that role he flew a number of missions of a clandestine nature to support American-funded units battling the Communist Chinese rebels. On November 29, 1952 Snoddy was piloting a C-47 on a mission into Kirin Provence, Manchuria to resupply friendly forces, and to extract an a special agent using an aerial recovery system. Unknown to the crew, the agent was a double agent, and the pick up was a trap. As the Snoddy flew in to make the pick up, the aircraft came under intense fire and was shot down. Snoddy and co-pilot Norman Schwartz were killed in the crash and two other CIA aircrew were taken prisoner. Snoddy's remains were returned by the Peoples Republic of China for burial in Eugene, OR in 2004.
Keadle learned to fly during World War I and flew forest fire patrols before leaving the Air Corps in 1921. During the 1920s he flew air shows, charter work and mail flights as well as becoming an instructor at the Tex Rankin School of Aviation. He flew for Alaska-Washington Airways and Westcoast Air Transport before flying airmail for Varney Airlines on the west coast. He flew with the famous stunt team of Rankin, Mount & Associates and once stopped an aircraft from running into a crowd at an air show, after it had started unexpectedly, run him over and smashed his arm in twelve places. He died of pneumonia in 1934