Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame


Kenneth H. Dahlberg
1917 -

St. Paul native Kenneth Dahlberg was drafted into the U.S. Army after high school. Wanting to fly, he passed a college equivalency test and attended pilot officers school at Luke Field, Arizona. He became an instructor at Yuma Air Base, Arizona and taught Nationalist Chinese pilots the fine points of aerial gunnery. Dahlberg became a triple ace while flying the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft in Europe during World War II. He was shot down three times and successfully evaded capture on two occasions before becoming a prisoner of war in 1945.

After the war, Dahlberg commanded the 109th Fighter Squadron of the Minnesota Air National Guard until 1951. He earned several awards for combat flying heroism.

After the war, Dahlberg founded Dahlberg Electronics, a company that supplies hearing apparatus to the hearing-impaired. He is a local leader in business, education and politics.

Inducted 1997


Angelo "Shorty" De Ponti
1908 - 1991

Born in St. Paul, De Ponti took his first job with Universal Air Lines in 1928, but quit the following year to start his own business. Though a pilot, De Ponti made his reputation as an entrepreneur, his company providing storage, flight training, fueling, sight-seeing, charter and aircraft sales. At one time or another, he either owned or leased almost every one of the original buildings on Wold-Chamberlain Airport. At the beginning of World War II, De Ponti received a contract from Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation to build Waco CG-4A gliders, which he did at a plant in South Minneapolis. He leased portions of his space at Wold to Northwestern to assemble the gliders, providing the welded fuselages and tail surfaces. Wings and other components were manufactured by Villaume Box Company in St. Paul. De Ponti held both Texaco and Shell Oil franchises and provided the major fueling facilities at Wold through the post war years. In the 1960s, along with the Metropolitan Airports Commission, he developed the Green Concourse at the airport. De Ponti retired in 1973, one of Minnesota's most successful aviation businessmen.

Inducted 1989


Joseph F. Devorak, Sr.
1922 - 2004

Born in Madison, Minnesota, Devorak grew up in a farming family. After an aviation mechanics course in Kansas City, MO, he went to work for Douglas Aircraft Company in California, working on the DC-3 line. In 1942, Joe enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a cadet, graduated in Class 44-D and was assigned overseas to the 325th Fighter Group in Italy, where he flew 29 missions in P-51s, primarily as bomber escort.

Returning after the war, he studied briefly at the University of Minnesota, then joined some friends in 1946 to create West Central Airways at Fergus Falls. West Central also opened an office in Wheaton, Minnesota. Both offices offered full services to the aviation community; aircraft sales, charter, flight instruction, rental, maintenance and hangar space. Joe began aerial spraying as well and in the following forty years, logged nearly 30,000 hours of flight time in that business. He promoted aviation in the western part of Minnesota and served on the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association and as an officer of the Flying Farmers organization.

Inducted 2004


Larry A. Diffley
1938 - 2012

Born in Bemidji, MN, Diffley was raised on the farm. Following a period in the National Guard, Diffley took flying lessons. In 1970, he and a partner bought Bemidji Aviation, later incorporating Bemidji Airlines and began scheduled service between Bemidji and MSP. They expanded until 1991 when they switched to all cargo service. Larry flew for the DNR, provided ambulance service, and wildlife surveys as well as instructing. He was an innovator in the realm of aerial fire control and trained pilots in the skills of leading fire bomber aircraft into hot zones. He had logged over 28,000 hours at the time of his death. Bemidji Aviation today employs many Minnesotans and today flourishes as an employee-owned FBO.

Inducted 2015


ARTHUR G. DONAHUE   
1913 - 1942

Born in St. Charles, Minnesota. Donahue worked on the family farm as a youth, and learned to fly at Max Conrad’s flight school at Winona. He worked for Conrad and managed the airport in Conrad’s absence. Donahue earned his Mechanics license, Private, Commercial and ATP licenses, the youngest Minnesota pilot to earn the later.

He traveled to England and joined the RAF prior to the Battle of Britain and became a member of No. 64 Squadron. In early aerial combat, his Spitfire was hit and set on fire. He bailed out, his face and hands badly burned. After getting out of the hospital, he returned to Minnesota as a hero and wrote a best-seller about his actions. Assigned to the Middle East, he flew a Hurricane from the aircraft carrier, Indomitable, to Singapore, but had to evacuate hurriedly and wrote a second book about that action. He returned to England and on a subsequent mission his plane was damaged in combat with a German aircraft and he went down over the Channel. Neither he or remains of the airplane were ever found. He was the first American to see combat in the Battle of Britain and earned the DFC for his brave service.

Inducted 2011


Major General John R. Dolny
1921 -

Minneapolis native John Dolny enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was shipped to North Africa with the 86th Fighter-Bomber Group flying the A-36 in support of the Fifth Army. On one mission near the beachhead of Anzio, Italy, his aircraft was struck by enemy ground fire and he bailed out, landing in Allied territory. In his second tour of duty, he became squadron commander of the 527th Squadron of the 86th and logged 135 ground support missions by the end of the war.

On his return to the States, Dolny joined the Minnesota Air Guard and took over command from General Ray Miller. Under his leadership, the Minneapolis unit transitioned from a fighter-interceptor role to a transport role while the Duluth unit became a fighter-interceptor group. He also served as the National Guard advisor to the Air Defense Command. Major General Dolny received numerous medals for heroism in combat and outstanding achievement.

Inducted 1998


Charles P. "Chuck" Doyle
1916 -2008

Doyle was born a daredevil, learning to fly while still in high school. He bought his first airplane when he was a senior and rebuilt it during the following winter. He started parachute jumping and made dozens of jumps as early as 1935, including several at the Minnesota State Fair. On his motorcycle, he leaped over cars, crashed through burning walls, and changed from it to an airplane as a thrill show performer. He joined a barnstorming troupe in 1937 and traveled around the country, making several housecrashes in the south. When the war started, Doyle was hired by Northwest Airlines and gave up the thrill shows, but kept rebuilding airplanes, skywriting, and towing banners. He had learned the skywriting trade from the first skywriters in the 1930s and still performs the art at this writing. He has had a hand in most of the aviation enterprises undertaken in the Twin City area, including part ownership of Southport Airport; restoring five warbird airplanes now in museums around the country; helping to bring an antique Grand Champion Hamilton Metalplane back from Alaska; and restoring a Curtiss Pusher.

Inducted 1992


COL. CRAIG W. DUEHRING
1945 –

Born in Mankato, MN. Duehring had his first airplane ride at the Mankato Airport at age 13 and decided he wanted to be an Air Force pilot. He joined the CAP and became senior ranking cadet in the state. After college he joined the USAF and was commissioned an officer. Following training, he was assigned to SE Asia and flew his first tour as a forward air controller in Vietnam. During a second tour, he flew the O-1 as a‘Raven’ out of Laos. He logged 1525 combat hours during 843 missions, earning two DFCs and receiving the Silver Star Medal, the third highest military honor. He also earned 27 Air Medals.

After SE Asia, he served as a jet instructor, served with NATO in Europe and became Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. As such, he was responsible for all of the members of the Air Force; active, Reserve and Guard, coordinating assignments, training, housing and medical facilities. Following 911, Duehring worked with the military, helping to script responses to terror attacks.

Inducted – 2014

 


Roy R. Duggan
1905 - 1998

Minneapolis native Roy Duggan soloed in 1928 and then began a barnstorming career with his wife Christine. In 1934 they visited Roseau in a Curtiss Robin and convinced local executives to fund a larger aircraft for commercial purposes. Duggan taught in the CPT program in Duluth during World War II before serving in Alaska. After the war he flew for Alaska Airlines and eventually started his own airline in Alaska.

Inducted 1996



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