Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame To Induct Davis, the Frantzes, Mueller, Outland & Powers

Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2019 issue

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame (IAHoF) has selected Stephen Davis, Robert and Ruth Frantz, Keith Mueller, Everett Earl Outland and Doug Powers for 2019 induction May 7 at the Holiday Inn and Suites – East Peoria, Illinois. Inductees are selected based on their contributions to aviation in Illinois.   

Stephen Davis is a successful businessman with 30-plus years in the construction industry, and president of the DuPage Airport Authority in West Chicago, Illinois. He has accomplished much in his tenure with the DuPage Airport Authority, but there is a greater achievement that the IAHoF recognizes with this award. Davis is founder and guiding force for “Tuskegee Next,” a charitable organization that is dedicated to carrying on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by training and mentoring young pilots from at-risk backgrounds.

Tuskegee Next was founded in 2014 with the goal of providing 100 Chicago area students the opportunity to obtain their pilot certificate by 2025.

Davis partnered with Illinois Aviation Academy, a flight school located at DuPage Airport, Tuskegee Airmen Chicago “DODO” Chapter and many other supporters to carry out this mission. The academy provides the flight instruction, and the members of the other organizations provide mentoring, fundraising and organizational support.

Since 2015, Tuskegee Next students have participated in a live-in summer program where, in addition to learning how to fly, they gain exposure to career opportunities within the aerospace industry, learn about leadership, teamwork, citizenship, diversity, military service, careers/training and the importance of education. Davis oversees this program and provides motivational support and guidance to the students. As of September 2018, 32 students have entered the Tuskegee Next program, 31 have soloed and 27 have earned their pilot certificate.

A talented fundraiser and organizer, Davis works with government and industry to generate support for Tuskegee Next. This year, the inaugural Red Tail Ball at DuPage Airport attracted 330 guests who dined and danced the night away while honoring the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and investing in future pilots.

Robert Frantz and his wife, Ruth Frantz, were known throughout the Chicago-area aviation community for their dedication to a variety of aviation organizations. As a couple, they have owned a variety of aircraft, from a Bamboo Bomber to a Piper Arrow.

As a couple, the Frantzes were staunch supporters of a variety of aviation support organizations including the Illinois Pilots Association, United States Pilots Association, North East Pilots Association and Chicago Area Chapter of the Ninety-Nines. Both individuals held a variety of offices in those organizations at both local and national levels. In addition to leadership roles, the Frantzes could often be found working at organization events and safety seminars, doing the tasks that made those events happen.

The Frantzes were deeply involved in proficiency air racing, as participants and at the organizational level. They raced both the Illi-nines Air Derby and the Ninety-Nines Chicago Area Chapter Air Meet for many years, winning or placing in the finals numerous times. Bob Frantz provided the program and oversaw the scoring for both races for many years.

Bob Frantz passed away in November 2014, and Ruth Frantz passed away in March 2018. Their infectious smiles and supporting hands are greatly missed by the organizations they supported and the Illinois pilots who knew them.

Keith Mueller is a flight instructor, mechanic and aviation educator. He has flown as a corporate pilot and served many hours as a flight instructor.

Mueller began as a mechanic for Ozark Air Line, which was later merged into Trans World Airlines, which finally became part of American Airlines. He retired from American as central regional manager for aircraft maintenance and engineering in 2015.

Mueller was a flight instructor and assistant chief flight instructor at Belleville Area College in the 1980s. He later became the part-time coordinator for that program until it was discontinued. 

Belleville Area College became Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) and Mueller, while still working for the airlines, became the part-time aviation program coordinator for the college. He developed the aviation pilot training program, aviation management program, and aircraft dispatcher program.

In addition to Mueller’s significant accomplishments with the airlines and SWIC, he has a long history of volunteer service in the aviation community. He has promoted aviation among teachers and students at school districts in St. Clair, Madison, Randolph and Monroe counties. In 2017, he was a planner and participant for a STEM Aviation Day at MidAmerica Airport that was attended by over 200 local teachers. He is a member of EAA Chapter 64 and participates consistently in their Young Eagles program. He provides leadership in the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructor Association, and volunteers at the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum. He is always a willing mentor to young adults interested in aviation.

Everett Earl Outland was airport manager at Mt. Vernon-Outland Airport in Southern Illinois in the post-World War II years, and was part of a team that had the vision and skill to develop the airport from its modest beginnings into a municipal airport with airline service.

Outland began flying in his 20s and operated the Mt. Vernon airport before entering the U.S. Air Force where he served as director of training for the Air Transport Command. After his discharge from the service in 1946, Outland returned to Mt. Vernon again as airport manager. Outland provided sales, flight and instructional services. In 1956, he moved to Abilene, Texas and managed the airport there for 3 years.

In 1955, Mt. Vernon voters approved an airport authority and the first paved runway was built, followed shortly by a paved crosswind runway. In 1959, Outland once again returned to Mt. Vernon as airport manager. He and Chester Lewis, Mt. Vernon’s city manager, had a larger vision for the airport. This was before interstate highways were built, when Mt. Vernon was a relatively isolated community. Outland’s vision was to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and persuade Ozark Air Lines to establish regular air service at Mt. Vernon.

In 1962, Outland’s dream was realized when Ozark introduced daily commercial service to Mt. Vernon Airport. The airline activity was directly responsible for making Mt. Vernon a transportation center in southern Illinois and influencing the location of Interstate Highways 57 and 64 near Mt. Vernon.

Everett Earl Outland experienced a heart attack in 1966 and died at the age of 53. The Jefferson County Board honored him by renaming the airport Mt. Vernon-Outland Airport.

Doug Powers has shown that sometimes events in life go full circle. His interest in aviation began as a Boy Scout when he won a flight for being Scout of the Year. He went for a ride in a Piper Tri-Pacer out of Ravenswood Airport located just off the end of what is now Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Later in life, he would found Aviation Explorer Post 9 at Palwaukee (now Chicago Executive) Airport in Wheeling, Illinois.

Powers enrolled in the flight/maintenance program at the University of Illinois at Champaign and received his Commercial Pilot Certificate and Airframe Mechanic Certificate. He became friends with some of the air traffic controllers at Champaign tower, took the entrance test and scored well enough to have his pick of duty locations and became a controller trainee at O’Hare. Over the years, he worked both tower and TRACON at a number of facilities including O’Hare. Later, Powers became a manager, and then worked as a branch manager in the FAA Great Lakes Regional Office. Finally, prior to retirement, he served as the FAA Regional Runway Safety Program Manager for two years.

Powers had always enjoyed giving career presentations at local high schools and encouraging young adults to consider careers in aviation. With his background as a pilot, controller and mechanic, he was able to steer youth into a variety of career paths.

In 1995, wanting to work more directly with young people, he started Aviation Explorer Post 9 at Palwaukee Airport. He became the first post advisor, a position he continues to hold to this day. Powers has used his connections in the aviation industry to help his explorers gain a wide variety of experience and learn leadership skills. He has truly given back much to scouting and the aviation community.

Many of Post 9’s explorers have gone on to attend university aviation programs. They have become military pilots, airline pilots, aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers and mechanics. Post 9 Explorers also demonstrate their sense of duty to their community by marshalling Young Eagle flights, supporting the Aviation Explorer Base Camp at Oshkosh each year, and working at airport events. Some of these youth have also returned to serve at the Explorer Post in leadership positions after college.

Each year, the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame presents the “Spirit of Flight Award” to one or more organizations that have provided “above and beyond” contributions to the aviation community in Illinois. This year, the Poplar Grove Vintage Wings & Wheels Museum and EAA Chapter 1414 have been selected to jointly receive the award.

The museum was chartered in 1997, and soon acquired a 1938 hangar from Waukesha Airport in Wisconsin, which was disassembled stone by stone and moved to Poplar Grove Airport. It was reassembled and renovated at the north end of the airport and became the main museum building. The museum showcases aviation, automotive and bicycle history from 1903 through 1938.

EAA Chapter 1414 was founded in 2005 and has 114 members today. The museum and Chapter 1414 work together on fundraising, restoring aircraft and holding aviation events. They jointly funded construction of a shared multi-use hangar with a kitchen for restoration projects and events. The hangar is used to host monthly pancake breakfasts and EAA Young Eagle flights.

In 2001, the museum founded a program for teenagers called “Youth Exploring Aviation.” It became Post 76 of the Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life Program and welcomes boys and girls ages 15-21. The teens are involved in joint Chapter 1414/museum aircraft restoration projects, as well as flights, field trips, aviation lectures and mini-classes.

Together, the museum and Chapter 1414 continue to serve the airport, and the community around it, offering lectures, movies and safety seminars, and host vintage car meets, aviation activities, pancake breakfasts and fund-raising events.

Inductees and the Spirit of Flight recipients will be honored at the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame induction and banquet at the Holiday Inn and Suites – East Peoria, Illinois, May 7, 2019 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Registration information can be found at www.ilavhalloffame.org.

The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame banquet will be held in conjunction with the Illinois Aviation Conference, which is scheduled for May 8-9, 2019 at the same location, and organized by the Illinois Aviation Trades Association (IATA). For additional information, contact Rob French at 217-503-6434.

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