OSHKOSH, Wis. — The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) recently inducted five aviators. Bill Adams, Jeff Baum, Arnold Ebneter, Ron Scott, and Walter Kohler, Sr. were honored for their aviation achievements.
“It was a great honor to induct the 2013 slate, all of whom have contributed significantly to the development and growth of aviation in our state,” WAHF President Rose Dorcey said. “The common thread among this year’s inductees was how their aviation passion led them to serve their fellow aviators in multitude ways.”
Ron Scott: Born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1933, Ron moved to Tomah, Wisconsin, at age 13. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1952, and served as a crewmember flying nuclear bombs to bases in England. In 1957, he bought a 1941 Taylorcraft and learned to fly.In 1960, after meeting EAA Founder Paul Poberezny, Ron designed and built his Old Ironsides scale model. About that same time, he joined the volunteer communications crews, now known as the “Green Gang,” at the EAA Fly-in in Rockford, Illinois. Ron was involved in the design and building of the EAA Communications Building on the flightline at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.He began building Old Ironsides from marine fiberglass in 1964, and test flew it in 1969. The plane is considered to be the first homebuilt plane to use fiberglass structurally in a skin-stressed application.Ron served on the EAA board of directors from 1971-1979, and from ’77 – ’80 he coordinated EAA’s Spirit of St. Louis tour. Ron left EAA in 1980, but continued to serve when he was named chairperson of the EAA board nominations committee. He became a Homebuilt Technical Counselor and has performed nearly 100 inspections. He has provided sound advice to many who have built airplanes.
Bill Adams: Born in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1925 and raised on a farm, Adams began flight instruction in the 1940s, earning his private and commercial certificates. He began work as a crop-duster, and in 1948 saw the Cole Brothers Air Show. In the early ’50s, he bought and converted a stock Stearman to 450-hp, like the Coles. Bill started as an airshow pilot with the Cole Brothers in 1952, and by 1960, had flown in 150 Cole shows.Throughout the ’60s, he flew in his own Bill Adams Air Shows and became a nationally known stunt flier, competing in national and international competitions. He died in 1966 in an airplane crash. Bill was inducted into the International Council of Air Show’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jeff Baum: Jeff Baum is one of Wisconsin’s most successful aviation entrepreneurs and business operators — and has been for the past 32 years. He is the founder of Wisconsin Aviation, a company he started in 1981 that became the state’s largest full-service, FBO and provider of general aviation services including charter, flight training, aircraft rental, aircraft sales, maintenance, avionics, interiors, and line services, with locations at Dane County Regional Airport (KMSN) in Madison, Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYV), and Dodge County Airport (KUNU) in Juneau.
Baum has served on numerous state and national aviation committees and through his leadership, Wisconsin Aviation has received numerous local and regional awards, as well as national recognition for outstanding service. For his achievements in Wisconsin’s aviation industry, Jeff was named “Business Person of the Year” (1988, 1997) by the Wisconsin Aviation Transportation Association and “Aviation Person of the Year” (2003) by the Wisconsin Airport Management Association. On Dec. 3, 2002, Wisconsin Aviation dedicated its new $2.5 million, state-of-the-art, general aviation terminal on the east side of the Dane County Regional Airport.
Baum has logged more than 17,000 hours of flight time. Wisconsin Aviation has grown from a handful of employees in 1981 to more than 165.
Arnold Ebneter: Born in Monroe, Wisconsin, in 1928, Ebneter graduated from Portage High School in 1946. He is a world record holder for longest distance for a Class C-1a gross weight airplane at 2,327 miles, in 2009. Ebneter designed and built the aircraft, named E-1. He conceived the project while in US Air Force engineering training in the 1950s. Arnold is a recipient of the Louis Bleriot Medal for the E-1 flight.
While in the USAF, Ebneter was involved in a top-secret, high altitude reconnaissance balloon project. As a USAF pilot, he flew F-86s and F-100s, among others, and completed enough missions in Vietnam to log 427 hours of combat time.
A recipient of the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot and Charles Taylor Master Mechanic awards, Ebneter has been a flight instructor since 1949. He continues to instruct and serves as a pilot examiner.
Ebneter retired from the Air Force in 1974 and went to work for Boeing as an engineer. He has rebuilt a Piper Cub and still flies a B-35 Bonanza. He has amassed more than 20,000 hours.
Walter Kohler: Inducted posthumously into the Pioneer category, for those flying before 1927, Kohler is known as Wisconsin’s “Flying Governor.” Kohler used an airplane in 1928 in his successful campaign for governor, logging about 7,200 miles throughout the state. He used his airplane to promote the development of aviation, and in 1930 was honored on “Wisconsin Day” at the National Air Races for his “indomitable enthusiasm in the cause of aviation.”
The Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame has inducted more than 100 men and women since it organized in 1985. Its mission is to collect and preserve the history of aviation in Wisconsin, recognize those who made that history, inform others of it, and promote aviation education for future generations.