March 4, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA Great Lakes Region Representative Bill Blake has been inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.
Blake, an attorney and former Army aviator with 6,000 hours, has represented AOPA members in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin since 1999. Previously, he served for seven years as director of the Illinois Division of Aeronautics, when he also was a director of the National Association of State Aviation Officials board of directors. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for May 25.
The Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame noted Blake’s development of the state aeronautics division’s Aviation Wannabe program for adults ages 30 to 60 who wanted to become pilots, with its special focus on recruiting women into aviation. The program was honored with a national award.
As an AOPA regional representative, Blake has led opposition to aircraft luxury taxes and cuts to general aviation airport budgets. He worked hard to defend Meigs Field in Chicago, which was shut down in March 2003 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.
A commercial pilot with instrument, multiengine and helicopter ratings, Blake practices law in Peoria, Ill. He is type-rated in Learjets and SK-58 helicopters and holds the Army’s Senior Aviator Badge. He recently received the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of accident-free flying.
On accepting his FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot award, Blake urged nonpilots who work or participate in the aviation industry to take a flying lesson or two, to gain perspective.
“Who knows, they might also get hooked on flying like so many of us have,” he said.
He is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Commerce, the Georgetown University Law center in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and has served on numerous community boards. His wife, Nancy, is an instrument-rated private pilot. They have two married children and six grandchildren.
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The Senate has joined the effort to expand the FAA's third-class medical exemption to more pilots and aircraft.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.