Leo ‘Ace’ J. Demers Sr.

Inducted: 2014

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 a crop dusting service opportunity took him to Mississippi. Although Demers 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. Demers 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, Demers 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 Bureau of Land Management (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 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 severe stroke grounded him in 1994. Leo J. Demers, Sr., passed away in 1999.

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