The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The first inductions occurred in 1995, when Ralph Johnson, Harold Slim Lewis, Dillard Pic Walker and Samuel Phillips were inducted. Since the inaugural 1995 induction, only one individual is inducted each year.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame, the board decided to select two individuals to be inducted into the hall of fame, Doyle Vaughan, of Jackson, and Daniel Hawkins, of Greybull.
Daniel J. Hawkins operated highly specialized aerial services, including mountain flying, firefighting, search and rescue, surveying and hauling. An experienced fixed wing pilot, Hawkins also was a highly experienced helicopter pilot who used helicopters in a variety of applications. He was co-owner of Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc., and co-owned several fixed-base operations in northern Wyoming, including Sky Aviation in Worland, Powell Aviation and Big Horn Airways in Sheridan.
Hawkins began working for Greybull-based Avery Aviation in 1964. He became co-manager in December 1965, with Gene Powers. In 1969, they purchased the company, changing the name to Hawkins & Powers. At the height of operations, H&P had approximately 200 employees. Known for its innovations in aerial firefighting techniques and slurry delivery systems, Hawkins & Powers operated for more than 35 years before closing in 2005.
Hawkins was a pioneer in the use of helicopters in mountain flying, search and rescue, the energy industry, agricultural and rangeland and wildlife applications. In 2000, he received the Helicopter Association International’s prestigious Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award for his mountain flying accomplishments and innovations and, in 2006, the Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding service to the civil helicopter community.
Hawkins had numerous memorable moments in a helicopter, including placing a bison monument on top of Cedar Mountain, west of Cody, to mark the site where Buffalo Bill Cody wished to be buried. He also appeared as the helicopter pilot in the 1968 John Wayne movie, Hellfighters, filmed near Casper.
Hawkins was born on May 25, 1927 in Pierre, South Dakota. At the age of 15, he began taking flight lessons. In 1944, he enrolled in Rapid City Aircraft Mechanic Vocation School. He then became a mechanic for the U.S. Army Air Corps at Rapid City Army Airbase (Ellsworth Air Force Base) where he worked on the B-17.
Late in 1945, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. After his discharge, he returned to Rapid City and joined Rushmore Flying Service as a mechanic. He earned his private pilot’s license in 1948 and joined the South Dakota National Guard. He then attended the Army Aviation School, where he completed fixed wing and helicopter training in 1956. Later, he was hired by Mississippi Valley Helicopters and worked out of the Rapid City operation where he provided helicopter support for the construction of the Minuteman Missile sites, and he patrolled power lines for Black Hills Power and Light. He married Jean Olson in 1949, and they had three children. Their son, Bob, became a pilot for his father’s company. Hawkins logged more than 30,000 flight hours in his 60 years of flying. He passed away on June 28, 2006.
Doyle Vaughan began flying in the 1950s. His professional flying began in Texas, where he joined an air service company. In 1962, Vaughan was selected by the U.S. Army to be an instructor pilot at Fort Wolters, Texas. While a U.S. Army Primary Helicopter instructor, he received the Gold Safety Certificate. After his service, he was hired by Hughes Tool Company as a corporate pilot.
Vaughan came to Wyoming where, beginning in 1969, he operated a fixed-base operation at the Johnson County Airport in Buffalo. In addition to offering fuel and maintenance, he offered flight instruction, aerial spraying, a helicopter service, fire lookout and geological surveying.
After a brief period as a line captain with the newly formed Federal Express, Vaughan joined another new company, Southwest Airlines, in April 1973. Vaughan was the eighteenth pilot hired to fly for Southwest. In 1984, the Vaughan family moved back to Wyoming where they settled in Jackson. Vaughan saw an opportunity for expanded commercial service and advocated for Southwest to serve Jackson Hole. In 1985, he was honored to fly the first Southwest flight into Jackson. He flew for Southwest until he reached the Age 60 Rule in 1993. While at Southwest, he logged more than 18,000 hours in the Boeing 737. Vaughan also was a charter pilot for Jackson Hole Aviation.
After retirement, Doyle Vaughan remained active in aviation by promoting flying in the area. He was involved with career days at Jackson Hole High School and the local Young Eagles program, where he introduced youngsters to flying. He worked closely with Wyoming Senator John Barrasso for support of the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilot Act that was passed by Congress in 2007, raising the commercial pilot retirement age to 65. He served on the Jackson Hole Airport Board from 1999-2009. While serving on the local airport board, he worked closely with Grand Teton National Park officials to find mutually agreeable solutions, including improving runway safety while addressing environmental impacts. Vaughan served the citizens of Wyoming by serving on the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission from 2009-2020.
Born in 1933 in Texas, Doyle Vaughan logged more than 28,000 flying hours. Doyle and Diana Vaughan’s enthusiasm for flying was shared with their family. Three sons became commercial pilots and a daughter became a flight attendant, all with Southwest. On January 30, 2017, Vaughan had the distinct honor of being on the last flight of a retired Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 with his sons on the flight deck. This was a special flight because he and his sons were the first to fly the aircraft when they delivered it from the Boeing Factory in Seattle to Love Field in Dallas on July 30, 1993. To recognize this historic moment and help honor the Vaughan family, Southwest offered them the captain’s yoke. Vaughan passed away on Oct. 7, 2020.
The Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame is a non-profit, publicly supported, tax-exempt organization dedicated to honoring individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, and/or advancement of aviation in Wyoming.
The organization comprises a board of directors and operates in conjunction with the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission. The late Red Kelso, of Cheyenne, began the effort to create the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame. The initial selection of inductees was made by the Wyoming Aeronautics Commissioners, including Ray Hunkins, of Wheatland, Carol Lewis and Brad Mead, of Jackson, Bill Hallam, Lander, Gene Bannister, Gillette, and Mike Vase, of Rock Springs.
Those who assisted in forming the hall of fame included Gerald Adams, who was a retired USAF colonel from Cheyenne; Toni Brown, of Gillette, who was the secretary of the Wyoming Pilot’s Association; Curt Kaiser, who had an investment firm in Cheyenne; Kristi Feusner, who was assistant manager of the Cheyenne Airport, and Dick Spaeth, who was the State Aeronautics Director at the time. Current board members include Kent Nelson, retired USAF colonel and former Wyoming Aeronautics Commissioner; Dean McClain, who operates an ag flying business in Torrington; and John Waggener, a University of Wyoming archivist and transportation historian.
The WAHF maintains a display case that includes plaques with the inductee biographies, as well as artifacts. This case is scheduled to be placed in the new Laramie Regional Airport Terminal in the spring 2021. For more information about the hall of fame, to nominate an individual, or to make a donation, please call Board Chairman John Waggener, in Laramie, at (307) 766-2563.