Civil Air Patrol

More than 43,000 Hours of Flying, Lt. Col. Dan Donovan Inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame

Photo taken by – Rose Dorcey, Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame: WAHF board member, Charles Swain presenting the plaque to Lt. Col. Dan Donovan during his induction into the Hall of Fame.

Wisconsin – With 71 years of flying experience, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Donovan, Milwaukee Senior Support Squadron #10, Milwaukee, Wis., was officially inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF) on October 29 at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh.  Approximately 260 people attended the event along with Donovan’s wife of 61 years, Verna; son Dan, Jr. and his wife; and grandson David, who Lt. Col. Donovan just taught to fly.

Captain Jim Szajkovics, Milwaukee Senior Support #10, realized the 84 year old’s lifetime achievements in aviation and nominated Donovan for the award. Not only has Donovan flown for 71 years but has volunteered for 30 years in Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Wisconsin Wing as an instructor and check pilot.

“It was wonderful that Jim nominated Dan for induction” stated Rose Dorcey, president of Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame.  “We are so grateful to him for doing so.  Dan and Verna were so happy and WAHF, and the aviation community, are grateful to Dan for his many contributions to aviation.”

The inscription on the plaque given to Donovan by WAHF board member, Charles Swain read:

Dan Donovan

Born in Green Bay in 1927, and raised in Niagara, Wisconsin, Dan Donovan began his flight instruction at age 13 and soloed in a Cub at age 16.  It was the beginning of more than seven decades as a pilot and more than 43,000 hours of flight time.          

After two years in the Navy, graduation from Marquette University, and work as a flight instructor at Milwaukee’s Timmerman Airport, Donovan became a pilot for North Central Airlines. Over the next 33 years, he occupied the pilot’s seat in airliners ranging from North Central’s DC-3s to Republic’s Convairs, and on to every model of Northwest’s DC-9s.      

His passion for safety and advanced pilot training earned him a seat on the Air Line Pilots Association’s Accident Investigation Board at its creation in 1974. Safety and training programs he initiated at Republic became models for other airlines and led Dan to additional service on numerous regional, national, public and private research, training, and safety boards and committees.           

“During the darkest hours that follow an accident or violation, Dan always was there.”           

Upon his retirement in 1987, Donovan received the prestigious Air Safety Award of the Air Line Pilots Association.

In his “leisure” hours, Donovan volunteered for service in the Civil Air Patrol, serving as an instructor and check pilot for 30 years. Known as “the primary architect of the safety culture” for the CAP in Wisconsin, his was “the last word,” for CAP pilots.

In acknowledgement of his professionalism, piloting abilities, and safe operations for more than 50 years, Donovan was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the FAA in 2008.           

For the pilots of ALPA, “He was our teacher and helper in the finest sense of the word… and our professional environment is a safer one because of Dan.”

Captain Jim Szajkovics, Majors Clement Dahlke, Tom Mescher, alerting officer; Major Tim Dixon, squadron commander; and Dave Teddy, Wisconsin Wing counterdrug officer also attended the event.

For more pictures and to read the full story of Donovan’s flying career written by Frederick Beseler, click on the following link courtesy of Forward in Flight magazine.  (Used with permission)     Lt Col Dan Donovan – WAHF Article- Oct 2011

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