Rufus R. Rand
A member of the family which owned the Minneapolis Gas Company, he joined the Lafayette Flying Corps in World War I. Rand returned to Minnesota, and in 1929 invested in the Mohawk Aircraft Company, becoming the company's receiver when it went into bankruptcy in 1931. Rand owned the last few Pinto aircraft built by the company, and sold them off to pay the bills. Rand was associated with the Universal Air Lines Corporation. He built the Rand Tower office building in downtown Minneapolis in the 1930s and was a Regent of the University of Minnesota. He was a State Commander of the American Legion and officer of the Minneapolis Gas Company. During World War II, he served as Executive Officer in charge of security at a bomber base in England and was one of the twelve founders of the Air Force Association.
Edwin W. Rawlings
1905 - 1999
Raised in Tracy, Minnesota, Rawlings attended Hamline University in St. Paul before entering the Air Corps, receiving his commission in 1930. He served at bases in Hawaii and Texas, becoming an administrative officer. After Pearl Harbor, Rawlings commanded the Aircraft Production Section of the Air Material Division. In 1947 he became the first Air Force Comptroller as a 2-star General. In 1951 he became Commander of the Air Material Command, retiring in 1959. He was the youngest 4-star General in the Air Force at age 40.
John L. Rice
John Rice learned to fly at Hector, Minnesota in 1937. He became a flight instructor at Rochester, teaching primary and secondary CPT training. He then taught the same programs at Grand Forks and at Northport, Minnesota before joining the Air Force as a Texas-based flight instructor.
In 1945 Rice established Willmar Air Service, an FBO offering maintenance, instruction, crop-spraying, and Mooney aircraft sales. It became the most successful Mooney dealership in the United States. During this time and after his retirement, he rebuilt several antique aircraft. The Rice family still operates the business.
Mary Jane Rice
Mary Jane Rice became interested in flying as a high school student and got her license in 1940. She became one of the first six licensed women pilots in the state of Minnesota. She joined the 99s, a national women’s pilots’ organization, in 1940 and is still a member. She met John Rice and married him in 1946.
Mary Jane Rice took over as secretary-treasurer of Willmar Air Service, the FBO that John had established in 1945, and saw the business flourish. Although she and her husband retired in 1983 from active participation, the family still operates the business.
Robert C. Rishovd
Rishovd was born in Minneapolis. He earned many flight ratings and specialized in helicopter operations. He served his country as a helicopter pilot in Viet Nam, earning many commendations and medals. Rishovd started the Vertec Technology Corporation which performed heavy-lift operations. He joined Imperial Helicopters in 1969 and was instrumental in opening an agricultural division. Rishovd also contracted with WCCO Television to provide their first aerial news-gathering platforms. In 1981, Rishovd purchased the company. He implemented an emergency medical service program contracted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, MN and later sold the service to them. He had expanded the medical services with bases throughout the Midwest. Rishovd was a local helicopter operations pioneer.
Bertram F. Ritchie
Howard Lake native Bertram Ritchie soloed in 1929 while a student at Northwest Airways flight school and later became a steward for Northwest. The time he put in at the aircraft controls and in flying his own aircraft helped him to qualify as a co-pilot.
Ritchie flew all of the early Northwest airliners, including the Ford Trimotor, Hamilton, Lockheed 10A and 14H, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 aircraft. He flew routes to the Pacific Northwest and created his own detailed drawings of the radio range navigation beacon signals before there were any published charts.
During World War II Ritchie tested B-24 bombers at the St. Paul bomber modification center at Holman Field. His logbooks describe hundreds of test flights, often two a day. Later he gave many interviews about these early adventures and about the various weather-related situations through which he flew during the “Golden Age of Flight.”
John O. Roberts
1942 – 2012
Roberts was born in New Ulm, Minnesota and took his first airplane ride at age seven. He soloed at age 16 and earned an engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. He was hired in 1964 by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a design and test engineer on the DC-8. He then went to work for the Cessna Company engineering department designing features of the Citation aircraft. He served as the manager of the Mankato Airport and as an FBO. From 1981 to 2003, he headed the aviation program at Mankato State University, building it into the largest aviation program in the State, earning honors for the school. During this time, he licensed over 3000 students.
During this time, he also flew for Sun Country and took to corporate flying when the Mankato program was shut down, flying for New Ulm Flight Service, Down’s Foods, Riverbend Asphalt, the Sween Corporation and Gehling Auction Company. His career was varied and colorful, amassing him over 15,000 logbook hours during a 53 year period.
Oliver A. Rosto
1881 – 1972
Rosto was born in Bjorkneset, Norway and migrated to the US at the turn of the century, settling in Duluth. He had soloed in Europe and once in Duluth, began constructing his own airplane. He flew a Bleriot-style airplane from the ice of Duluth Harbor in 1913.
In 1916, but joined the Royal Canadian Flying Corps and was sent to Russia to train factory workers in the assembly of exported Canadian-built aircraft. On Rosto’s return, the war still in progress, he joined the US Navy, and flew anti-submarine patrols in Europe. In 1922, he joined the CAA as an airline technical advisor, retiring from that service in 1954, upon which he became an advisor to Trans-Ocean Airlines. He flew for seventy-two years, logging his last flight three weeks prior to his death.
Raymond J. Rought
Born in Freemont, Michigan, Rought earned his Private license in 1978. He graduated from Michigan Tech University with a degree in Civil Engineering. He served in Vietnam in the Army medical Command and upon discharge began work for the Michigan Bureau of Aeronautics. Rought was appointed Director of the Minnesota Office of Aeronautics in 1986 and moved to Minnesota with his family. His responsibilities at MN/DOT included airport planning, zoning, facility design and construction, budgeting, hangar construction, air safety training, navigational aid installations and maintenance, and the air transportation of State officials. Rought’s imprint can be seen in many of today’s airport facilities and procedures around Minnesota. He has won service and leadership awards from several aviation groups. Rought also played a role in the publication of the Minnesota Aviation history book and the establishment of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. He is retired and lives with his family in Forest Lake. .
Mathew J. Ryan
1899 – 1953
Ryan was born in Springfield, Minnesota. He took his first airplane ride in 1919 and soloed in a Jenny from a grass strip in Marshall, MN. In 1928, Ryan began an intense campaign to lobby the local legislature for funds to improve and outfit the field as Marshall’s municipal airport. In 1931, the field became the official Marshall airport, its hangar, paved runways and other improvements brought about mainly by Ryan’s efforts. In 1942, Ryan operated a flight service and provided CPT training at the field.
Ryan became Metropolitan Airports Commission - Director of Secondary Airports in 1951. Under his guidance the old University Airport in New Brighton was closed and the bigger Anoka County Airport took its place. In 1954, the Marshall airport was named Southwestern Minnesota Regional Airport – Ryan Field, in honor of Ryan’s contributions.