Donald C. Downie was recently inducted into the Arizona Aerospace Foundation’s Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame, which is housed at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson.
Also inducted this year were Harold L. “Bud” Abrams, Ralph S. Johnson and James Vercellino.
Downie, a full-time aviation writer and photographer since before World War II, was one of the most senior writers in the business. A long-time contributor to this publication, his first published photograph and caption was of a Fokker four-engine transport in 1934 in “Popular Aviation Magazine.” He received top honors in the first Industrial Photography Magazine film competition (1962) for a documentary he produced, “The Other Side of the Mountain.” Downie’s latest book, “Flying the Hump,” released by Motorbooks in 1995, is a World War II memorabilia book in coffee table format.
Abrams, a founding member of the Pima Air & Space Museum, flew in World War II. After the war, he continued flying, and was involved in aircraft repair and parts kit designs through his entire career. In 1965 he founded Abrams Airborne Mfg., where he designed and manufactured parts for the Apollo missions, space shuttles, and medical and commercial products. He also founded Pima Aviation, an airport development company, and Tucson Aeroservice Center, an FBO.
Johnson had a distinguished career serving in the Army Air Corps, United Airlines and general aviation. He is the holder of several patents, designs and innovations, all geared to improve aviation safety. His flight deck coordinator, a scrolling checklist used by airlines and the military, is still in use today.
In 1948 Vercellino was appointed one of the original board members of the Arizona Aviation Authority. In 1957 he was appointed director, a job he held for 19 years.