Ray Costello, former AOPA Northwest Region representative; Roger Starr, president of the Oregon Aviation Historical Society; and AOPA President Phil Boyer
The Oregon Aviation Historical Society inducted AOPA President Phil Boyer into its Aviation Hall of Fame on Aug. 8. Both he and fellow inductee, former AOPA Northwest Region Representative Ray Costello, were characterized as “truly representing the best of those who have made a significant contribution to general aviation.”
The historical society’s museum is located on Jim Wright Field in Cottage Grove, Ore., south of Eugene.
Boyer, who was born in Portland and spent the first 20 years of his life in that area, credits his grandfather for planting the seed for “wanting to go into the third dimension,” by taking him to the old Portland Airport to watch the DC-3s land and take off. He later learned to fly while working in television in California.
The historical society honored Boyer for his 18 years leading AOPA and the organization’s many accomplishments under his direction. Among the milestones of the Boyer administration were his championing of product liability reform on behalf of AOPA members and the passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which changed conditions to help restore the piston-engine marketplace and encourage new aircraft manufacturing start-ups.
AOPA and Boyer advocated for GPS—and later GPS-WAAS—despite naysayers who predicted GPS would never be affordable for general aviation. Today every airport in the nation can have a precision instrument approach without the costly ground infrastructure required for a traditional ILS system, all thanks to GPS-WAAS.
Boyer initiated an expanded airport advocacy program, which threw the full weight of AOPA and its members into defending threatened GA airports. The AOPA Airport Support Network and the successful defense of airports like Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg, Fla., are just two visible examples of that advocacy.
And AOPA under Boyer has successfully held off three different attempts to impose user fees on GA.
In accepting the honor, Boyer thanked the Oregon Aviation Historical Society for “breaking the mold” by selecting someone who “didn’t fly airshows, has no exciting flying stories or records.” Acknowledging the society’s important role in preserving aviation’s past, Boyer said, “What I’ve tried to do during the last 18 years is to work towards ensuring in some way that there will be an affordable, a safe, and a fun general aviation” in the future.
He remarked on the airway light beacons housed in the museum, saying they reminded him how far aviation has come. “I didn’t fly those beacons like many of your past honorees, but what I did was to help ensure that an affordable technology that made navigation so simple, is now in almost every airplane.
“The Global Positioning System with augmentation, which gives us instrument approaches down to ILS minimums with no expensive ground structure, is some of what we’re doing to ensure the future and the safety of all kinds of flying,” said Boyer. “Whether it is preserving the past or ensuring the future, or just continuing the fun of flying, there is nothing more important than the passion we all hold for general aviation.”
Boyer noted that he will be continuing his passion for aviation after he retires from the AOPA presidency, going from flying the AOPA corporate aircraft at the flight levels to the open cockpit of his restored Waco UPF-7 biplane.
The Oregon Aviation Historical Society also honored retired Lt. Col Ray Costello, U.S. Air Force. Costello saw combat in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and later, as director of the Oregon Aeronautics Division, established a GA systems plan that became a model for the FAA. Costello also served as AOPA’s regional representative, covering the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.