Johnson named to Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame
Raymond A. Johnson, one of Wyoming’s early commercial pilots, has been named the 2013 inductee into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.
In addition to flying for commercial airlines, Johnson’s aviation career included barnstorming, air racing, weather observation, flight instruction, flight testing, crop dusting, and serving as a forest fire lookout and the state’s aviation safety officer.
He was selected as the 22nd inductee into the Hall of Fame by its board of directors, with the approval of the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission. An induction ceremony is being planned for later this fall.
Born in1912, Johnson grew up on the family ranch south of Laramie. He began taking flying lessons at the age of 15 and made his first solo flight at 17.
He won the first air race held in Cheyenne in the late 1930s, and was a pilot for parachutist George Hopkins, who gained notoriety when he landed on top of Devils Tower in 1941.
During World War II, Johnson was a test pilot for North American Aviation in Kansas City. He conducted test flights on the P-51 and B-25. After the war, he worked at airports in Mitchell, Neb., Huron, S.D., and Great Falls, Mont.
He flew for Mountain Airways, Inland Airways, Cheyenne Flying Service, and Plains Airways, where he was promoted to operations manager of its Army Air Corps training program at Cheyenne, Laramie, and Fort Morgan, Colo.
He earned his Civil Aeronautics Administration advanced flight training instructor rating and became the chief pilot for the newly formed collegiate training class at the University of Wyoming. He also was a CAA district flight supervisor at Lambert Field, Mo.
In 1951, he became flight instructor and later flight commander at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, where he trained pilots during the Korean War.
In 1960, Johnson returned to Wyoming and became the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission’s safety and enforcement officer. He also served as a pilot for Govs. Jack Gage and Cliff Hansen.
During his time with the state, Johnson was one of five aviation pioneers honored at ceremonies at the Cheyenne Airport during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first contract airmail flights from Cheyenne.
He died in 1984 at the age of 72.
The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame was founded in 1994 through the efforts of veteran pilot Red Kelso of Cheyenne and the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission. Its purpose is to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, and advancement of aviation in Wyoming. Plaques containing biographies of the inductees are on display at the Cheyenne Regional Airport terminal.