Bill Hamilton to be inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame
According to Bea Wilhite, president of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society, Grand County resident, Bill Hamilton, will be inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame on November 1, 2008. The induction banquet and ceremony will be held at the Lakewood County Club.
Hamilton was nominated by former Grand County resident, Emily Howell Warner, the nation’s first woman pilot to be hired by a scheduled airline and, later, America’s first female airline captain. “Bill has worked so effectively behind the scenes for General Aviation for so long, I felt the Colorado Aviation Historical Society should grant him this honor,” said Warner.
The famed Reno Air Racer of his own P-51 and Hawker Sea Fury, Joe Thibodeau, will also be inducted on November 1st. Currently, Thibodeau holds a seat on the Colorado Aeronautical Board (CAB) once occupied by Bill Hamilton.
“To be listed among so many Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame laureates whom I have known and worked with over the years is, indeed, an honor,” said Hamilton. “First and foremost, I am grateful to Emily Howell Warner for putting my name into nomination for this great and humbling honor.
“Secondly, I am grateful to my aviator wife, Penny, who truly is ‘the wind beneath my wings.’ Penny was Emily’s willing and secret (from me, anyway), collaborator in providing many details of our aviation work in Colorado that goes back to 1988 and the creation of the CAB, the Colorado Division of Aeronautics and the Colorado Aviation Trust Fund. Penny has been with me every step of the way and this body of aviation work for which I am being recognized could not have achieved without Penny’s help on a variety of aviation issues. In fact, Penny has been so helpful that the FAA added a holding-pattern intersection along the Victor 8 Airway that runs East-West above and across the upper Fraser River valley and named it for Penny.
“I also want to pay tribute to just a few other Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame laureates whom I’ve known and worked with: Babette Andre, arguably, one of the world’s best mountain flying instructors; Norm Avery, whose brave example to fly despite a serious handicap is an inspiration for us all; Lucile Bledsoe, who was a founding member of the Colorado Aeronautical Board (CAB); former Senator Lewis H. Entz, who worked so hard to create the CAB, the Colorado Division of Aeronautics and the Colorado Aviation Trust Fund; Vern Foster, who, along with Dr. Bill Marshall, wrote the book on mountain flying; Scott Hamilton (no relation), whose legal expertise helped secure so many rights for General Aviation in Colorado; Dr. Gwen Mayo, with whom I served on the founding boards of the Rocky Mountain Air Fair and the Centennial Airport Business Association; Mike Silva, a former CAB member and Denver TV news pilot extraordinaire; Colonel Jack Wilhite, who gives so much of his time to aviation in Colorado and flies the MiG-17 at air shows; Carl Williams, with whom Penny and I founded Bush Pilots of Colorado; and “Mick” Wilson, who wrote the book on how to survive a crash and was so helpful to Penny and me for the “crash” scene in The Grand Conspiracy, the novel we wrote in early 2001 about a terrorist attack on the water reservoirs, tunnels and ditches of eastern Grand County.
“Also, I’m proud to mention: my late friend, Greg Isbill, the dean of airport construction in the Rocky Mountain West; Captain Elrey Jeppesen, who invented the world’s leading system of air navigation charts; and “Gib” Nesbitt, an early supporter of the Granby Airport and the founder of the SunnyShore Park development where Penny and I live. I am also humbled to be in the same inductee class as my friend, Joe Thibodeau
“Others who collaborated with Emily and Penny on obtaining this award were: Sarah Jane Dolliver and the Colorado Pilots Association (CPA); former Governor Bill Owens; Mike Baldwin, Bill Chandler, Nance Earley, Ralph Goulds, Steve Harless, Bart and Mary K. Jones, Peter Paul Luce, Jerry Teitsma, Colonel Gary Tobey and Walt Barbo. I am grateful to them beyond measure.
“Attending the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Lakewood County Club on November 1st will be our friend and mentor, Walt Barbo. More than any other person, it was Walt Barbo who has inspired and guided our work for General Aviation in Colorado. Walt and his wife, Terry, are tireless in their devotion to a number of Colorado General Aviation organizations such as the CPA, and the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum and the Fantasy of Flight Program to educate Colorado’s youngsters about the wonders of flying.
“Sometimes I am asked why I don’t spend more time tinkering with our Turbo Arrow III at the Granby Airport. That would certainly be a fun thing to do; however, when your work for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is spread over five states and has, in the past, even been spread over seven states, it is difficult to find time for recreational flying.
“But General Aviation flying is far more than just for recreation. We fly our plane on aviation business, period. Even with the high price of aviation gasoline, the ability to get to state capitals such as Bismarck, Pierre, Cheyenne, Lincoln and Denver at three times the speed of a passenger car still makes General Aviation flying an economical and time-saving means of serving the pilots in AOPA’s Central Region,” concluded Hamilton.
In addition to being a 30-year-member of AOPA, Hamilton is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, the Colorado Aviation Historical Society, the Colorado Airport Operators Association, the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, EAA Chapter 1267 in Granby and EAA Chapter 569 in Lincoln, NE.
Currently, he serves as president of the Friends of the Granby Airport, Inc. (The evening before the Colorado Hall of Fame induction, Hamilton will be named to the University of Oklahoma Army ROTC Wall of Fame.)
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I would like to thank again the powers that be in Grand Lake for keeping the playground and ball park next to the community center (the former school building) as it is.