Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame

Julius L. Perlt
1903 - 1991

Born in St. Paul, Perlt graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1925, having been a medal-winning gymnast. In 1926, he went to work for the St. Paul Association of Commerce and promoted all manner of aviation activities, including the Ford Reliability Tour stops in 1926, 1928 and 1929. He worked closely with Colonel Lewis Brittin to get the airmail contract for Northwest Airways, and became Northwest's first office manager. In 1929, Perlt lobbied the City Council to purchase land to build the St. Paul Airport and organized the St. Paul to Winnipeg Goodwill Tours. Perlt also became secretary of the St. Paul Aero Club, and an officer of both Yellow Cab Airlines and Mamer Airlines that used St. Paul as a base of operations. He remained with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor's Bureau throughout his career, while working for the Brede Company. He was very well known as the announcer of the University of Minnesota's Gopher football and basketball games at Memorial Stadium and Williams Arena.

Inducted 1988

Richard A. "Bud" Peterson
1923 - 2000

Hancock native Bud Peterson attended the University of Minnesota before joining the Army Reserve. He went through the cadet program and became a second lieutenant. He was sent to Europe to join the 357th Fighter Group, 364th Fighter Squadron. He flew 118 combat missions in P-51s and was able to score 15.5 aerial victories, tying him with Maj. Don Beerbower as the top scoring Minnesota World War II aces.

After the war Peterson studied structural engineering and architecture and became an architect.

Inducted 2000

Maj. Gen. Robert S. Peterson
1920 - 2007

Gen. Peterson was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. In 1942 he applied for and received an aviation cadet slot and began primary flight training in Fort Worth, Texas. He earned his wings in 1943 and was assigned to the Chinese theatre where he flew P-40s for Gen. Chennault. He was transferred to the P-51 in Chikiang, China. He served as flight leader and squadron commander, his tour ending in 1946. Returning home to New Jersey, he joined the Air Force Reserve.

When Peterson's employer, Prudential Insurance transferred him to Minneapolis in 1954, he joined the Minnesota Air Guard and flew all models of Guard aircraft from the P-51 to the C-97. He was promoted to chief of staff and finally to Major General. He flew the F-101, F-102 and the F-4 before finally retiring. He earned the USAF Distinguished Service medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, Minnesota Distinguished Service medal and Medal for merit and seventeen other service awards.

Peterson was appointed to the Metropolitan Airports Commission, where he served for six years. He was honored as an Honorary Citizen of the City of Minneapolis. He retired from Prudential as the vice president of Computer and Data Management.

Inducted 2017

Sven H. Peterson
1903 - 1998

Born in Sweden, Sven came to Minnesota in 1916. He learned to fly in the early 1920s and based himself at St. Cloud. He staged weekend airshows that brought aviation to the attention of citizens of that area. His sight-seeing flights often lasted throughout the full daylight hours. In 1933, he was appointed a district representative to the Minnesota Aeronautics Commission, supervising aerial activities in his region. He helped build the St. Cloud Northside Airport and helped start a flying club there, teaching several persons to fly. He is considered St. Cloud's foremost early flyer.

Inducted 1992

Donald Piccard
1926 - ____

Donald Piccard represents three generations of Piccards whose lives have centered on research and sport ballooning. In 1947 Piccard made his first solo balloon flight and became the first FAA certified free balloon pilot. He started the Balloon Club of America in 1948, and made headlines across the country as a pioneer. He flew the first plastic Pleiades balloon in 1957, worked for the G.T. Schjeldahl Company, where he made the first super pressure balloon, then joined Raven Industries, where he helped develop hot air balloons. Piccard, starting with the St. Paul Winter Carnival’s hot air balloon race, created the modern sport of hot air ballooning. In later years, Piccard’s own companies built a very popular and successful line of gas and hot air balloons.

His pioneering balloon family includes his uncle Auguste Piccard, first man in the stratosphere, his father, Jean, who invented the multi-balloon and the plastic balloon, his mother, Jeanette who flew the first FAA class “Space Craft” (the Century of Progress balloon) into the stratosphere, his wife Wilma, a championship and record-holding balloon pilot and his cousin Betrand Piccard, who was the first to circumnavigate the Earth in a balloon.

Inducted 2008

Bernard H. Pietenpol
1901 - 1984

Born in Spring Valley, Minnesota, Pietenpol is Minnesota's premiere homebuilder. He learned to fly in the 1920s, constructing his first homebuilt plane in 1923 with a Ford Model T engine. In April of 1929, he brought a Model A engined airplane to Minneapolis to show to the editor of Modern Mechanics Magazine. The plane sparked interest and plans for it were published. Copies of this model, called the Air Camper, are still being built and flown today. Pietenpol also designed a single seater of similar styling, which could be powered by a Ford Model T engine. Pietenpol was a self-taught engineer who designed his own airfoils and made his own stress analysis. He taught in the CPT program before the start of World War II, and after the war, returned to his hardware business at Cherry Grove, Minnesota. He continued homebuilding activities, selling his popular plans and helping other homebuilders with their projects.

Inducted 1990

Boris Popov
1946 –

Popov was born in Munich, Germany. He came to the US by way of Ellis Island and attended the University of Minnesota, earning a degree in Economics. He worked for Pittsburg Plate Glass and began a flying career. After receiving his Private license, he became interested in ultralights, but a bad experience led to his inventing and marketing a parachute recovery system. That system would prevent fatal accidents in the event of an engine or airframe failure in flight. He founded Northern Sun, Inc., and soon after, BRS (Ballistic recovery Systems) the corporation that distributes his system. He currently serves on that company's board. The recovery system has by 2015 saved 259 lives around the world and is a part of the features of most ultralights now flying.

Inducted 2016

CMSgt. Clayston C. Pyle

1930 - 2005

Born in Rockford, IL, Pyle grew up in Chokio, MN. He entered the Navy in 1951 and worked in the maintenance area on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In 1955 he began a career in the Air Force during which he served as a maintenance supervisor on fighters, bombers, transports and ICBM missiles. During his 21-year military career, he worked his way up to the Air Force's highest enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant.

In retirement Pyle has been an outspoken champion of veterans affairs nationally and within the state. He has served as University ROTC mentor and advisor, Air Force Association Officer and Chairman of the Veteran's Legislative Council of Minnesota which represents some 38 different veterans organizations. He is an energetic and esteemed lecturer and resource of military history.

Inducted 2003

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