Robert 'Handlebar' Johnson
1924 - 2007
A longtime Wyoming resident, Bob Johnson dedicated over 45 years to Wyoming aviation as an airline station agent, the first Wyoming Army National Guard helicopter pilot, a tower and flight service station operator, a weather observer, and a general aviation pilot.
In spring 1942, Bob enlisted in the US Navy. He became one of the Navy's first operators of the new and then top-secret radar. Leaving the Navy and bitten by the flying bug, he used his GI Bill benefits to build his flying time. He worked as a station agent for Challenger Airlines, a forerunner of Monarch and Frontier, in Rawlins and was certified as a weather observer.
Bob joined the Army National Guard and was accepted for pilot training. He flew the L-17 Navion and L-19 supporting not only Army Guard operations but many civil needs, from flying rabies vaccine to helping fight forest fires. Bob was accepted for Army helicopter pilot training in l 958 and became the first Wyoming Army Guard helicopter pilot.
As a Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) flight service specialist and controller at the Cheyenne Combined Station Tower, his duties included teletype communications, handling flight plans, giving weather briefings, broadcasting weather reports at half-hour intervals, keeping watch on inbound flights, monitoring up to 16 radio frequencies and ground, local and approach control duties. During his Cheyenne CAA/FAA assignment, Bob was an active supporter and participant in the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission's aviation safety seminars conducted at all Wyoming airports. These seminars resulted in a significant reduction in the number of general aviation accidents in the state.
Bob retired from the FAA at the end of 1979, but was soon back at work towing gliders at the Air Force Academy. He then flew as a tow pilot at the Owl Canyon Gliderport just south of Cheyenne, finally retiring in July 1990.
He died on July 25, 2007.