Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. The Janesville man, who has been flying for 55 years, will be inducted Saturday into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in Oshkosh.
"Yes, I was surprised they picked me," Wixom said. "You're always surprised by something like that."
The hall of fame's mission is to collect and preserve the history of aviation in Wisconsin.
Wixom, 81, will join other Wisconsin aviation leaders including:
-- Jim Lovell, the astronaut who logged more than 715 hours in space.
-- Ruth Harmam, who earned her pilot's certificate in 1932 and went on to be a "girl flyer" in shows and to train hundreds of Navy flight cadets.
-- Major Richard Bong, who downed 40 enemy aircraft in World War II.
In other words, it's a significant honor.
Wixom started his aviation career in 1955 when he received his private license from Art Hodge of Janesville Flying Service.
He continued to train and study, attending Janesville Vocational School—now Blackhawk Technical College—to get his airframe and power mechanics license. Later, he received his authorized inspectors license.
He earned a variety of licenses as his interest in flying continued, including his instrument, commercial, multi-engine and instructors licenses, and he later received his Airline Transport Pilots license.
Over the years, Wixom was a charter pilot, aircraft mechanic and instructor for companies such as Janesville Flying Service, Parker Pen, Midwest Aviation and, finally, his own company, Blackhawk Airways.
His wife, Joan, was a part of Blackhawk Airways, and their business went from one Twin Beech to 14 airplanes and 29 employees.
He flew freight for General Motors; executives from a variety of companies; body organs for University Hospital, Madison; newspapers for the New York Times, and regular routes for Emery Air Freight.
Blackhawk Airways also provided passenger service.
Among the rich and famous who flew with them were Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears, radio personality Paul Harvey and Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
When asked what part of his career he was most proud of, Wixom said, "Of course, it was running my business. My wife, Joan, was a big part of that. I couldn't have done it without her."
Wixom, who still is flying, loved his career—not just being a pilot but also meeting people, traveling around the world and restoring airplanes.
About 25 years ago, Wixom bought a 1943 Beechcraft Staggerwing and restored it.
"When I bought it, it was a basket case," Wixom remembered. "It was basically a truckload of parts."
Joan and Dick took it the Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure, where in 1986 it won best closed-cockpit biplane.
The Wixoms still own and fly the Beechcraft and a Cessna 182, a small passenger plane.
In a 2005 Gazette story celebrating his 50th year as a pilot, Wixom said, "There's nothing like flying. Especially at night when you see lights all over. Or at Christmas when you see holiday lights. Or when you see falling stars."
It still hasn't lost its magic.
Roy P. Shwery aviation pioneer, founder of Midstate Airlines and inductee Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame, passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 87.
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