1948 - ____
Ron Fagen was born in Granite Falls, MN. Born into a flying family, Fagen began flying the family airplanes and eventually found an interest in aerobatics. Flying a Pitts, he won several regional contests and other events over a 25-year span.
Fagen joined the US Army and served a tour in Vietnam. Following his service, he started an industrial construction company and used aviation for commuting between sites. He created an ethanol processing plant and began designing plants all over the world. He also designed wind farms and their components. He has participated in Special Olympics for handicapped youth and the Veterans Airlift Command besides supporting general aviation in Minnesota. In 2012, Fagen opened an aviation museum in Granite Falls dedicated to America's Greatest Generation in memory of his father, who fought at Normandy. The museum is filled with WWII warbird aircraft as well as documents, statues, and other military artifacts.
Lt. Col. Bohn E. Fawkes|
1919 - 2007
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fawkes attended West High School and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. At the University, he was a member of the ROTC and joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. Fawkes flew 25 bombing missions as B-17 co-pilot and pilot in the 379th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.
His missions included two of the famous raids over Schweinfurt, Germany and a ditching in the English Channel from which his entire crew survived. After the war, Fawkes served as a B-29 instructor in the Pacific. His career was spotlighted in the book “Fall of Fortresses” by his navigator, Elmer Bendiner. Fawkes retired from military service in 1962.
Fawkes returned to civilian life to carve a career as a stock broker and became involved in his community, serving with his children's school PTA, working with his church, and the Boy Scouts of America.
Ethel Meyer Finley
1920 – 2006
Born in Lake City, MN. Ethel Meyer Finley grew up on a farm and in 1940 enlisted in the CPT flight training program at Winona State Teachers College that included flying lessons from Max Conrad. Ethel volunteered for the military after Pearl Harbor and became a military flight instructor. In 1943, she joined Ferry Command, transporting warplanes from base to base in the USA. Finley joined sister WASPs in her later years to lobby for veterans benefits, and to speak to groups about the wartime contributions made by WASPs, encouraging women to follow their dreams.
Finley went on to volunteer for community service, helping several Half-Way Houses for abused and battered women.
Captain Richard E. Fleming
1917 - 1942
St. Paul native Richard Fleming attended St. Thomas Academy and the University of Minnesota before enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve. He went through the AVCAD program at Wold-Chamberlain Field in Minneapolis and trained at Pensacola. He was sent to the Pacific and was at sea with the U.S. carrier task force during the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. He went to Midway Island to help defend against the Japanese assault. On June 5, 1942, he led a bombing attack on the Japanese cruiser Mikuma near Midway. He died when his Vindicator aircraft was struck by the ship’s anti-aircraft fire. Both his bomb and the plane struck the Japanese ship, exploding and disabling it. Fleming was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The South St. Paul Airport is named in honor of Captain Richard E. Fleming.
1915 - 1946
Born in Minneapolis, Fowlie was one of the regulars at Minneapolis’ Wold-Chamberlain Field in the 1930s. He began a barnstorming career as a parachutist at age fifteen, then learned to fly and graduated to aerobatics. He stunted an airplane from 1935 to 1938 as a performer with the local Flying Aces Air Circus. In 1939 and 1940 he flew aerobatics in a Cub airplane doing comedy routines and landing on top of a moving automobile. He also performed a routine with Don Berent called The Pickaback Cubs in which the pair took off with two Cubs, one atop the other, doing aerobatic maneuvers while joined together. Fowlie crashed old airplanes into houses at county fairs and did some of the early sky-writing over the Twin Cities. He was considered by his contemporaries as the best of the Minnesota aerobatic pilots.
1923 – 2015
Leon Frankel was a native of St. Paul, Minnesota. As a young man, Frankel's first ride in an airplane was in a Piper Cub at Holman Field during high school. Upon the U.S. Entry into WWII, he joined the Navy and was sent to Hibbing Junior College where he soloed. Frankel went on to Primary flight training at Olathe, KS – then to Advanced flight training at Pensacola, FL. After receiving his wings, he was transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), flying Avengers. Frankel participated in the first Navy raid on Tokyo, and for his actions during that raid was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Later, attached to the USS Yorktown (CV-10) on April 7, 1945, he and his flight sank the Japanese cruiser Yahagi and her escort destroyers. For that action he received the Navy Cross, the Navy's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. He received his final flying cross upon completion of 25 missions.
After the war, Frankel returned home but remained in the Navy Reserve, flying TBMs out of Wold-Chamberlain Field until 1958. In 1948 Israel began recruiting veteran pilots for their fledgling Air Force. Israel recruited 25 pilots of which Frankel was one. He flew 25 missions with the Israeli Air Force, flying a German Me-109. He continued to be active in aviation matters around Minnesota until his death in 2015.
Mal B. Freeburg
1906 - 1963
Mal learned to fly in 1926 and established Freeburg Flying Service at Shenandoah, Iowa. He went with Northwest Airways in 1928. In 1930, while flying a mail plane, he spotted a burning railroad bridge and flew back and forth in front of an oncoming train, dropping flares to warn of the danger. In 1932, shortly after takeoff in a Northwest Ford Trimotor, a prop blade broke on the left side engine and the engine shook loose from its mounts. As it hung from its various cables and hoses, Freeburg flew over the Mississippi River and managed to shake the engine off entirely, avoiding the danger of having it fall into a populated area. He then made an emergency landing in farm field in Wisconsin with no injuries to the passengers or crew. In 1933, President Roosevelt presented him with the first Civilian Air Mail Medal of Honor. Freeburg was Northwest Airways operations manager in 1933. He retired in 1952.