• Exciting news from the National Aviation Hall of Fame

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 John Dorcey No comments

    The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF), based appropriately in Dayton, Ohio, announced its “Enshrinee Class of 2014″ during a Wright Brothers Anniversary dinner on December 17. Three of next year’s enshrinees have direct ties to Wisconsin and one is an inductee of the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF). The six individuals who will be inducted next year are: Bertrand B. Acosta, Alan and Dale Klapmeier, BGen James McDivitt, Emily Howell Warner and Sylvester “Steve” Wittman.

    Alan and Dale Klapmeier were born in Illinois but have spent most of their lives in Wisconsin. They grew up, learned to fly and went to college here. Their early aircraft design and construction work, with friend Jeff Viken, took place at the Baraboo-Dells Airport, in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Their first design, the VK-30, was a five-seat, kit airplane with a piston-engine and pusher prop. A turbo-prop powered version, the ST-50, first flew on December 7, 1994. Moving to Duluth, Minnesota, Cirrus Design stopped working on those early designs to concentrate on their SR20 airplane. Certified by the FAA in 1998, deliveries of the SR20 began in July 1999. Today, Dale Klapmeier is the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft located in Duluth. Located just over the Richard Bong Memorial Bridge in Superior, Wisconsin, is Kestrel Aircraft, where Alan Klapmeier is CEO. The brothers continue to leave an idelible mark on aviation. Our congratulations to Alan and Dale Klapmeier.

    Steve Wittman was born in Byron, Wisconsin, (3 miles south of Fond du Lac) in 1904. A childhood illness cost the young, want-to-be aviator most of his vision in one eye. He soloed in 1924 and flew an airplane of his design that he built the same year. He operated a flying service in Fond du Lac for two years beginning in 1925. About this same time, Steve discovered air racing, competing in his first race at Milwaukee in 1926. He competed in air races throughout the country for an amazing 53 years. In 1931, the owners of the Oshkosh airport invited him to manage the airport. He managed the airport, that today bears his name, for 28 years. He also operated Wittman Flying Service until 1957. Steve was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame as a member of its first class of inductees, in 1986.

    These gentlemen will join nine other Wisconsin aviation notables, each of whom are enshrinees in both the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. This august group includes: Richard “Dick” Bong, James Lovell, Billy Mitchell, Mark Mitscher, Paul Poberezny, Robert Reeve, Deke Slayton, Nathan Twining and Hoyt Vandenberg. There are more than 35 state-based aviation halls of fame. We hope the NAHF selection committee looks to these “local” organizations and who they have enshrined as possible candidates for NAHF enshrinement.

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