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Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame

Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame

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Raymond "Ray" Arthur Johnson - 2013 Inductee

The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame is a nonprofit, publicly supported, tax exempt organization dedicated to honoring individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, and/or advancement of aviation in Wyoming.  The Hall of Fame was established in 1995 through efforts of R.R. "Red" Kelso, a veteran Wyoming pilot.  The first four honorees were inducted in 1995.  Since 1995, one nominee has been inducted annually.

The Aeronautics Commission selects the new inductee each year from the nominations submitted by the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.  The number of inductees is limited to enhance the honor of being selected.

The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame also collects aviation historical artifacts for display to educate the public on Wyoming's significant role in aviation's early days.  The Hall of Fame centerpiece display case is currently located in the Cheyenne Airport Terminal building and houses a wide selection of early Wyoming aviation memorabilia.  The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame also maintains an archive including pilot biographies, which is available for researchers.

The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame is dependent upon individual contributions to finance its operations.

Anyone wishing to submit a nomination may obtain an application package by contacting John Waggener, president of the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.  Tax exempt contributions may also be sent to this address.

Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame
Attn: John Waggener
1000 E. University Avenue, Dept. 3924
Laramie, WY 82071


Raymond "Ray" Arthur Johnson

  • 2013 Inductee into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame

    Raymond "Ray" Johnson was born in Laramie, WY. His parents were Arthur and Ida Wurl Johnson who were ranchers on the Big Laramie River when Ray was born and later at the ancestral ranch on Antelope Creek in southern Albany County.

    Ray attended school in Laramie and his dream was to become an aviator. His dream came true when his Student Pilot's Permit was issued by the United States of American, Department of Commerce, Aeronautics Branch issued on 12 Oct 1927. Ray was 16 years of age when he began taking flying lessons from Fred Wahl on the Wahl ranch about 6 miles south of Laramie where Fred's Mountain Airway's field was located. The Wahl and Johnson families had been friends for many years so when Ray began taking lessons he also lived with them.

    Ray made his first solo flight on July 13, 1929. In the early years Ray participated in barnstorming and air race events by himself and with Fred Wahl and his brother, Richard. After Fred Wahl formed Mountain Airways Corporation in 1931, Ray worked for this company in Laramie and in Rawlins when the company moved there.

    In 1935 Ray was a weather observation pilot and three years later he joined Inland Airways'. From August 1936 to May 1937 Ray's logbook records the following types of flights: Weather Observation, Passenger Hops, Student Instructions, Blind Flying, Pleasure Flights SATR Flight Test and Demonstration Flights. His logbook dated May 1937 to August 1937 records Weather Bureau, Airport, Cheyenne. During this time he earned the distinction of obtaining every license possible for a pilot to have. In his logbook 5 and 6 from Aug 1937 to July 1938 he records he is working for Cheyenne Flying Service. In July of 1939 the logbook records he is working for Plains Airways, Inc. and his logbook records Plains Airways until Feb of 1944.

    In 1940 he was rated by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) to become an instructor for advance flying training and was one of only a few such instructors in the United States. As a result of Ray's CAA rating he became an instructor for CAA and Plains Airways and was chief pilot for the first collegiate training class at the University of Wyoming. Later Plains Airways transferred him to Cheyenne and he was placed in charge of the Army Air Corps Program as Operations Manager and he had complete charge of the three major divisions of the school, i.e., flight instruction, maintenance and ground school. At that time the school had 22 flight instructors and 3 ground school instructors employed at the school. Plains Airways had three training bases, Cheyenne, Laramie, and Ft Morgan, CO and Ray was involved at all three locations. In 1942 they promoted him to Operations Manger.  Ray accepted a CAA position as district flight supervisor at Lambert Field near St Louis and then during the WWII years he was a test pilot on P-51's and B-25's (Mitchell Bombers) for North American Aviation, Inc., at Fairfax Field, Kansas City, KS. After the war Ray went to work as a private pilot for a steel executive and later he worked as a commercial pilot examiner, an instrument instructor, an instructional instructor and did some stunt flying and crop dusting at Hogan Flying Service, Mitchell, NE, Dakota Aviation, Huron, SD, and managed the airport for Skyway flying at Great Falls, MT. On February 20, 1950, Ray was accepted into the membership of the Veteran Air Pilots Organization.

    In 1951 Columbus Air Force Base (AFB), MS (Columbus, MS) was opened as a contract flying school operated by California Eastern Airways, Inc. Ray was hired by California Eastern as a flight instructor and took his training at Craig Air Force Base, AL. After training he went to work Columbus AFB, 3301st Pilot Training Program. Ray was promoted to Flight Commander and oversaw the flight instruction of Air Force Students in PA-18 Piper Cubs and T-6's. In early 1955 Columbus AFB was placed under the Strategic Air Command and California Easter phased out and the 3301st Pilot Training Group was reassigned to Moore Air Base (AB), TX, (Mission, TX) where the T-28 and T34 aircraft were used for their training program. In Aug 1959 Moore began using the jet-powered T-37 in place of the T-38's. With the upgrade to jet trainers the base was changed to Beiser Aviation Corporation. Ray was a Flight Commander during these years and in December 1960 the contract flying school at Moore AB was closed. Note from Dicksie KNIGHT May. During the years that Ray was at Columbus AFB and Moore AB his wife, Hazel Johnson, was a Link Instructor. Hazel had a Private Pilot License which she earned after taking flying lessons from Ray while living at Huron, SD. In addition, his brother, Richard "Dick" Johnson had a Private Pilot License and owned a Cessna-170 which he used on the Antelope Creek Ranch and helped surrounding ranchers look for cattle, etc. Dick was a long time member and President of the Wyoming Flying Farmers Association.

    After Moore AB closed Ray then returned to Wyoming where he was the Safety and Enforcement Officer of the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission, and also shuttled Wyoming Governors Jack Gage and Cliff Hansen around the state.   While employed for the State of Wyoming Ray was one of five aviation pioneers who were honored at ceremonies at Cheyenne Municipal Airport making the 50th anniversary of the first Contract Air Mail" flights from Cheyenne. Ray's logbook No. 18 lists Cheyenne as his home base from 1961-1967.

     

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