Major General Wayne C. Gatlin
Duluth-born Wayne Gatlin enlisted in the aviation cadet program in 1942. Later he flew 55 combat missions for the 360th Fighter Group in England and downed an ME-262 jet fighter. In 1948 he joined the Texas Air National Guard but eventually transferred to Duluth, where he became operations officer for the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Gatlin flew jet fighters while stationed at Duluth during the Korean War. He was the high individual scorer at the 1954, 1955 and 1956 National Air Guard gunnery meets.
Gatlin served as commander of the Air Technician Detachment at Duluth, wing commander, group commander and finally chief of staff for the Minnesota Air National Guard. He logged over 6,700 military flying hours during his career.
Gatlin studied photography over the years and his marvelous portraits of Guard aircraft have appeared in many publications and journals.
Francis J. Geng
1893 - 1981
Hastings-born Francis Geng learned auto mechanics as a youth. He enlisted in the Navy during World War I as a machinists mate and later transferred to the Naval Air Service, training at the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis. He served active duty on anti-sub patrol in New York. In 1927 he became the airport manager at the new St. Paul Municipal Airport. He supervised all airfield activities including fueling, rentals, service and maintenance. The field became a popular stop for politicians and personalities and provided an overnight for the famous Ford Air Tours.
Geng lobbied the St. Paul City Council to expand the municipal airport to accommodate airline service. In 1930, Northwest Airlines built their maintenance facility there. He helped secure a base for the Minnesota Air Guard and a home for Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing aviation. In the 1930s he oversaw the WPA programs that paved new runways, installed lighting and built a new terminal.
Geng retired after 34 years as manager.
Robert R. Gilruth
Gilruth was born in Nashwauk, MN. He built telescopes and model airplanes as a youth. He received a Master's Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1935. Though he never learned to fly, Gilruth began working for the NACA at Langley Research Center in Virginia and was later appointed director of what is now NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center at Houston, TX. When the Soviets, in late 1950s, took an early lead in the space race, Gilruth urged President John F. Kennedy to set the higher goal of landing a man on the moon. As director of the JSC from 1962 to 1972, Gilruth oversaw 25 manned space flights from Mercury-Redstone 3 through Apollo 15.
Raymond G. Glumack
1918 – 1998
Ray Glumack was born in Marble, Minnesota on the Iron Range. He learned to fly at the old Virginia airport. In 1938, while in college, Ray and some friends barnstormed the Iron Range in a Curtiss Robin. After college, he entered the Naval Cadet program at Minneapolis, winning his wings in 1940. Assigned to the battleship USS Maryland, he narrowly avoided being injured on board during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served out the war in the Pacific on the Maryland, flying as an SOC seaplane pilot, catapulted from shipboard and recovered from the ocean. One of his planes was shot down and he spent time in a raft before being picked up by a destroyer. Glumack returned to Minneapolis and the Naval Reserve, where he finished his career, retiring as a Captain. Glumack became a partner in Northeast Airways, operating from the Virginia airport, serving as the operating officer of the corporation and spray pilot. In 1957, Glumack moved to the Twin Cities to work for the Peavey Corporation as a salesman for Aero Commander aircraft and helped negotiate the sale of Peavey to the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was elected Executive Director of MAC 1975, overseeing the metro airports. He helped save Traveler’s Aid by instigating a fund-raising tradition, helped conceive the Metropolitan Public Airport Foundation and the term “America’s North Coast Gateway” as the catch-phrase for MSP, and aided Northwest Airlines in obtaining CAB approval for direct international flights. When he stepped down as director, he was appointed Chairman of MAC by the Governor, finally retiring in 1988. His most proud accomplishment was to fend off the Minneapolis Metropolitan Council in its effort to takeover the MAC and its financial base.
Brig. Gen'l Leo C. Goodrich
Goodrich was born in St. Paul, MN and attended St. Thomas College. He took his first airplane ride at Camp Ripley and enlisted in the Air Corps in 1943. He was commissioned and served in Europe with the 12th Air Force as a B-25 pilot. He joined the Minnesota Air Guard in 1947 and in 1950, transferred to the staff of the Adjutant General of Minnesota, becoming Assistant Adjutant General - Air in 1971. He earned his General's star in 1973. During this time, he became the personal pilot for six Minnesota Governors. He flew airlift missions to Korea and Vietnam and led the procurement of C-130 aircraft for the Air Guard. He served with the National Guard Association until his retirement in 1983.
1898 – 1965
Richard “Dick” Grace was born in Morris, Minnesota. In 1917, he joined the U.S. Navy and went to flight school in Pensacola, FL. During WWII he was assigned to a pursuit squadron in France. After being wounded in combat, he was sent to a flying boat squadron in Italy. Following the war, Grace returned to the U.S. And barnstormed, gave flight training and did stunt flying. He went on to become a stunt pilot in Hollywood, specializing in crashing airplanes. His careful planning kept him safe in this risky business. During the 1930s, he and other aviation luminaries formed a union for stunt pilots – the Associated Motion Picture Pilots, better known as the “Black Cats” - as a way of setting safety standards for aviation films, including the famous “Hell's Angels.” At the onset of WWII he joined the Army Air Corps, rejecting a commission as a Major, as it meant he wouldn't be doing much flying, and asked to be a Captain instead. He tested P-39s and P-51s stateside and ferried aircraft to the European war zones. Once in England, he requested assignment to the Eighth Air Force. As an instructor there, he went on missions as an “observer.” He was assigned to the 486th Bomb Group, flying B-17s and was wounded by flak in December, 1944 during a bombing mission making a crash landing back in England. Before he was to be sent home after a full tour of duty, he requested and was transferred to the 448th Bomb Group, flying the B-24 Liberator. There he finished his military career with 45 missions, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and several Purple Hearts before returning to the U.S. Grace was one of the very few pilots who served in both WWI and WWII, in both the Navy and Air Corps. In his lifetime, Grace wrote several books: Squadron of Death; Crash Pilot; and Visibility Unlimited, a biography of his career in aviation. He died of old age in 1965.
Gracie was born in Eau Clair, WI, but came to the Bemidji area with his family as a one year old. He later attended Macalaster College and took Journalism courses at the University of Minnesota. He worked briefly as a writer for the Minneapolis Journal newspaper. He wanted to fly in the military and joined the US Air Service, and was assigned to a flight school in Toronto. He returned for further training at Hicks Field, TX.
In 1918, Gracie was sent to England and flew Sopwith Camels with the British 4th Pursuit Group. He managed to score two aerial victories before he was shot down on August 12, 1918, and crashed into the English Channel near the coast of Belgium. The Germans recovered his body and buried him in a Belgian cmetery. The family worked hard to have his body returned to the US and he was finally buried in the family plot in Bemidji. The Bemidji Legion honored Gracie by naming their post the Ralph Gracie Legion Post #14.
Alvin D. Grady
Al Grady was born in Ely, England. He came to Minnesota in 1969 and settled in Duluth. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1967 and retired 31 years later after serving in the finance office. He joined the Duluth Air National Guard from which he retired in 1998 at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. He was the budget analyst for the 148th FIS, and was Director of Finance for the Duluth Airport.
Al spent countless hours researching Duluth’s aviation history, and gave numerous presentations to various groups.
He was instrumental in enhancing and preserving the exhibition and collections programs of the Bong Museum in Superior, Wisconsin. His tireless research produced a three volume set of aviation data, research and history of aviators in Northern Minnesota. His period of interest covered 1911 through 1951. His work provides Duluth with the most complete and definitive chronology of early aviation, airports and flying events in the Duluth Superior area.
On October 3, 1942, a U.S. B-17 lost its way in cloud cover crashed near Belfast, Ireland. Most of the crew members died, including Captain John Gibson from Duluth. Thanks largely to an Irish farmer on whose land the aircraft crashed and Al Grady, who had been researching Gibson, the crash might never have been recognized. Al went to Ireland, and the two men uncovered the history of the crew, arranged for a wreath to be placed on the site on October 3, 2012, 70 years after the crash. Al later sent money to the Irish community for a monument to be placed at the site. Al died without ever seeing the monument erected.
Grady was of invaluable help to the Aviation Hall of Fame, taking on many of the projects necessary for the production of the banquet and the maintenance of the records of the inductees.
Albert James Grazzini
Born in Minneapolis, MN, Grazzini served with the U.S. Army, stationed in Italy as a front-line parts specialist. After the war he graduated from St. Thomas College with a degree in accounting and joined the Air National Guard in Minneapolis.
He found a passion in flying, received his ratings and managed a flying club. In 1961 he founded Thunderbird Aviation at Flying Cloud Airport and took on a Piper dealership. Soon the business grew until it operated the largest Piper fleet in that company’s network. Today it is one of Minnesota’s premier fixed-base operations.
Working in the general aviation field, Grazzini helped form and get legislation passed that gave aircraft sales departments across the state a break in making sales tax payments on new aircraft until they were sold or had been in use for one year. Thunderbird expanded to include facilities at Owatonna and Crystal, MN, and at Phoenix, AZ. Grazzini also opened the Academy of Aviation, a fully-credited aviation training school offering two-year degrees in aviation skills.