Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame


Austin J. "Jim" Bailey
1922-

Born in Worcester, MA, Bailey learned to fly in the CPT program in 1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 and flew as a Marine Corsair fighter pilot in the Pacific. Upon completing engineering school in 1950, he was recalled for the Korean conflict.

His combat experiences included being shot down by ground fire over North Korea and being rescued after ditching in the Yellow Sea. He moved to Minneapolis after Korea and joined the Marine Air Reserve.

Bailey joined Honeywell in 1952 as an engineering test pilot, for a career testing flight controls for automated carrier landings, fly-by-wire, side-stick controls, and fire control systems for such aircraft as the F2H-3, Canadian CF-100, F-100 and F-101. Bailey participated as a test crewman in a human factors review of the Mercury Space Capsule design. On the X-15 rocket research vehicle he worked with Scott Crossfield and Neil Armstrong on the flight control system. He also worked on the design of control systems for the SR-71 and the X-20 Orbital Space Vehicle. As a test pilot and consultant, he worked with the Swedish Royal Air Force on SAAB fighter systems.

Inducted 2003


William "Bill" Barber
1925-1987

Minnesota native Bill Barber soloed at Wold-Chamberlain Airport in 1946 and joined North Central Airlines in 1952 as one of the youngest captains in the company. He flew for 33 years with North Central and later on with Republic Airlines.

Barber became interested in aerobatics and began flying air shows in the 1950s. He taught flying routines to many of the well-known air show pilots of today. He flew many different aircraft from Cub to 450 Stearman; landed a Cub on a platform on top of a speeding car; flew wing-walkers and stunt-persons on rope ladders; performed comedy acts with the Cub; and thrilled crowds. He also wrote and loved to tell stories.

In 1962, Barber was selected captain of the U.S. Aerobatic Team and competed in Budapest, Hungary. A yearly show performer’s award now bears Barber’s name.

Inducted 2000


Don Beerbower
1921-1944

Don Beerbower’s family moved to Wadena and Hill City from Saskatchewan. In high school he played basketball and was senior class president as well as an Eagle Scout before attending Iowa State College. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in January 1942 where he took fighter pilot training. He then flew with the 353rd Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group.

Beerbower’s first combat mission occurred in December 1943. He scored his first aerial victory in January 1944 and became an ace in February. His last confirmed aerial victory came in July 1944, bringing his total to 15.5 confirmed victories. He became a major and received the Distinguished Service Cross (three), Air Medal (26) and Purple Heart awards.

Beerbower is one of the two top-scoring Minnesota air aces. He died flying against a German airdrome near Rheims, France, in August 1944.

Inducted 2000


Rudolf G. Billberg
1916-2007

Billberg first saw an airplane at age 19 when an itinerant aviator barnstormed through his hometown of Roseau. He later soloed at Wold-Chamberlain in Minneapolis and from there took a commercial flying job in the Northwest Angle of Minnesota. He carried passengers and freight to the Angle’s isolated locales and post offices, gave rides and performed at air shows. In 1938 he accepted an instructor’s position teaching in the Civil Pilot Training Program (CPT) at Duluth. He also became one of the state’s first flight examiners.

In 1940, Billberg went to Alaska to work for Wien Airways in Nome. He flew with Northwest Airlines during World War II, bringing troops and supplies to far north posts in Canada, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. In 1949, he went to work for Northern Consolidated Airlines and continued his Alaskan aviator career for over 40 years. He wrote about his adventures in the wilderness before retiring to Roseau.

Inducted 1998


Wilmer Bolduc
1897-1972

Bolduc hails from Corcoran, Minnesota, and began his aviation career in 1940 as a mechanic for McInnis Flight Service, Wold-Chamberlain Field. He worked as a mechanic in the War Training Service (WTS) for Northport Airport before World War II. As an Army Air Corps mechanic, he worked on bombers from 1943 to 1946, including the B-29 at Alamagordo, New Mexico. In 1947 he returned to Minneapolis to work for Shorty De Ponti.

In 1952, he started Bolduc Aviation Services at Crystal Airport, offering inspection and overhaul. He sold the service in 1978 and moved to Big Fork, Minnesota, where he continues to work on floatplane maintenance. He received the coveted Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award in 1995.

Inducted 2002


DR. George Bolon
1940 -  ____

George Bolon fell in love with flying as a youngster in Portland, Oregon. He joined the US Army in 1963 where he learned to fly. He became a Captain and served on active duty with the North American Air Defense Command. Coming to Minnesota in 1968, he received degrees in Chemistry, Student Personnel Administration and a PhD. in Higher Education. During this time, Bolon earned several flight ratings, including FAA flight examiner.

Bolon helped develop the Winona State College aviation program in 1974 and has continued on the staff, instructing students in the Airways Science Program, leading them to careers in the aviation field. He is also Director of Operations and Chief Pilot of Win Air, an FBO at Winona’s Max Conrad Field. The company serves corporate flight needs throughout the region. Bolon has written several papers on flight safety and speaks frequently to aviation groups. He also serves as expert witness in aviation litigation.

Inducted 2008


Sherman P. Booen
1913 - 2011

Booen was born in Glenville, Minnesota, and learned to fly at Albert Lea in the Civil Pilot Training Program (CPT) before World War II. In 1942, he was assigned to the Air Material Command at Dayton, Ohio, where he inspected and trained flight crews on the Honeywell autopilot system.

In 1945, Booen began a radio and TV career. He created “World of Aviation,” a program that aired on WCCO-CBS TV for 28 years. After receiving his Marine Corps commission he went to Korea as an air traffic controller and retired with the rank of colonel from the United States Marine Corps Reserves.

During the 1960s, he founded The Minnesota Flyer Magazine and flew on many news gathering flights. Through his magazine he became a spokesperson for general aviation in Minnesota. He helped found the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame and published a book, Minnesota Aviation History.

Inducted 1995


Anthony A. Bour
1909-2002

St. Paul native Anthony Bour first learned mechanical skills in shop classes and at the St. Paul Vocational School. He took flight training at Wold-Chamberlain Field, gaining his commercial license and A&P mechanic's license. In 1928, he enlisted in the Minnesota Air National Guard. He attended Air Force mechanic's school in 1935 and became a crew chief on Air Guard aircraft. In 1940, Bour and squadron mates were sent to Louisiana where he flew as a liaison pilot before entering officer's school.

In 1942, he was stationed in India with the Seventh Bomb Group as a maintenance officer. After the war he became a shop instructor at St. Paul Vocational School and later at Johnson High School. He also taught for 27 years at Totem Town, a school for delinquent juveniles. Bour served as advisor to many aviation groups including the Comemorative Air Force, the Air Force Association and the Air Guard Museum.

Inducted 1998


Otho A. Brandt
1903-1994

Ohio-born Al Brandt found his inspiration from military aircraft activity at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, near his home. He did odd jobs for the WACO Company in Troy, Ohio, and soloed a WACO in 1928. He married a nurse from Minnesota and they moved to St. Paul in 1929. Brandt barnstormed around the country for the next few years. In 1929, his Lexington Flying Service contracted with Macalester College to teach students to fly in the Civil Pilot Training Program (CPT) and the War Training Service (WTS). He moved to the University Airport to finish the contracts when St. Paul was taken over by the Army Air Corps.

Following the war Brandt established the Brandt Aero Service flight school at the St. Paul Municipal Airport. He closed the school in 1962 to work as a test pilot and salesperson for Champion Aircraft Company, Osceola, Wisconsin. Brandt retired in 1971.

Inducted 1997


Orville H. Brede
1924-

Born in Cosmos, MN, Brede worked briefly for the Northwest Airlines Modification Center at St. Paul Airport before entering military service. He served with the 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in the Philippines where he was wounded and received the Purple Heart medal. He attended the Spartan School of Aeronautics where he earned his mechanics license. He went on to earn several flying licenses, including Private, Commercial, Multi-Engine, and Seaplane Examiner. Brede worked as a flight instructor, pilot examiner, charter and corporate pilot, flying for Red Owl Foods, Viking Tool Company and Gresser Construction Co. Brede owned an FBO at South St. Paul Airport, Brede Aviation Company, where he rebuilt many old aircraft. He earned the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award for fifty years of service to General Aviation. The Bredes live in Hastings, MN.

Inducted 2012


JAMES H. BRODIE
1916 - 2009

James Brodie was born in Minneapolis in 1916. He had his first airplane ride in 1936. As an Army Lieutenant (later Captain) in the early days of WW II, he witnessed German submarines devastating merchant convoys. Unlike American submarines, the German diesel-electric subs preferred to make surface attacks to make use of their superior speed—when forced to submerge, the convoys could easily outrun them. The problem—how to put aircraft up over convoys to keep the submarines submerged? The U.S. didn’t have enough aircraft carriers to escort convoys early in the war.

Though not yet a pilot, Brodie came up with the idea of designing a “trapeze” that could be fitted to merchant ships—enabling liaison aircraft to spot subs and keep them submerged. Though initially rebuffed by the Navy, he eventually was given approval by the Navy. Test pilots were reluctant to try the system, so Brodie soloed a Cub in 1943 to act as his own test pilot—and was turned down by Army brass. The Brodie system was tested and approved in trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually, Brodie systems were tested and approved for L-4 and L-5 aircraft.

By this time, the Battle of the Atlantic had been won through the use of long-range aircraft and code-breaking. The military focused on using the system on board Landing Craft-Tank (LST) ships in preparation for amphibious landings on remote islands. The system distinguished itself in the battle for Okinawa by scouting defenses, including Japanese suicide boats. Twenty-Five LSTs were equipped with the Brodie system for the invasion of Japan. The system also found use in jungle area, where airstrips could not be built. Brodie received the Legion of Merit award for his invention. After the war, helicopters made the use of the system obsolete. An example of the Brodie system on an L-5 aircraft is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

Brodie has a patent for the system, as well as many other engineering patents. He founded an engineering company after the war, and moved it to his native Minneapolis. It specialized in unique mechanical engineering, including the air systems on submarines, a patent on noise reduction for mechanical submarine systems, arresting gear and launch systems for aircraft carriers, and recreational products.

Inducted 2017


Ray Brown
1905-1988

Brown soloed in 1926 and earned his Private license in 1927 while a student at the Curtiss Flying Service at Roosevelt Field, L.I. New York. It was there in 1927, he helped fuel and push off the Spirit of St. Louis for its epic flight. Ray worked for several aircraft companies before becoming a mechanic. He owned a flight school which he operated until 1940 when he took a job with the CAA and came to Minnesota.

In 1944, he joined the Minnesota Department of Aeronautics and spent the rest of his career licensing and enforcing state aviation statutes. He retired in 1972, ran a tree farm for many years and rebuilt a Piper Colt aircraft for his own use as well as constructing a homebuilt aircraft.

Inducted 2006


Colonel Lewis H. Brittin
1877 - 1952

Born in Connecticut, Brittin was schooled as an engineer. He earned the title of Colonel as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. He came to Minneapolis and managed several industrial plant installations, including the Ford plant, and the lock and dam at St. Paul. Brittin became Vice-President of the St. Paul Association of Commerce. In 1926, he headed a campaign to buy out the faltering airmail line between the Twin Cities and Chicago. When the purchase was complete, he served as Northwest Airways Vice-President and General Manager until 1934. Under Brittin, the airline acquired a large modern aircraft fleet and expanded air routes.

Inducted 1989


Walter Bullock
1899 - 1986

Bullock witnessed the airmail flight from Minneapolis' Lake Calhoun in 1911, then hung around early pioneer Alex Heine's shop, watching him build airplanes. Bullock went to Newport News, Virginia, in 1916 and received his flying license from the Curtiss School. He barnstormed for the next few years, while building and rebuilding planes. He started Robbinsdale Airport in 1920; flew part-time for "Whiz-Bang" publisher, Captain Billy Fawcett; and was hired in 1927 to fill in at Northwest Airways for Speed Holman while the latter was in a cross-country air race. Bullock stayed on and eventually retired in 1960. During the war years, Bullock flew for the Northwest Ice Research Program, and also in the Northern Region. After the war, he competed in the 1946 Bendix air race, finishing ninth. He built or rebuilt a dozen aircraft after the war, at least three of which are in the San Diego Air/Space Museum at this writing.

Inducted 1988


Ken Butler
1910 - 1984

Born in Hector, Minnesota to a farming family, Butler obtained a degree in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota, and then taught agriculture at the Granada High School. He worked as an agronomist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and began flying. He bought one of the family farms in 1943 and soon joined the Minnesota Flying Farmers. After he moved to Hutchinson in 1950, he was elected their president and in 1954 became President of the National Flying Farmers. He helped organize a Canadian flying farmers organization about the same time.

As a representative of the farming community, he traveled all of Minnesota, the country and internationally to promote their interests. Butler promoted farm airstrips and Canadian border crossing airstrips. He worked tirelessly at the Minnesota legislature, helping start the new Hutchinson airport in 1965, and fighting against the installation of tall towers in rural areas. Despite an airplane accident in 1971 that left him a paraplegic, he continued carrying the message of good farming and the mobility offered by flying to the agricultural community. In 1985, the Hutchinson Airport was named Ken Butler Field.

Inducted 2004



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