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Nebraska Department of Aeronautics
Mr. Ronnie Mitchell, Director

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Ronald Dale Rodgers was born on December 23, 1933 in Cozad, Nebraska. He graduated from Kearney High School in 1951. Soon after he served the US Navy from 1951 to 1954, where he flew as Crew Chief aboard a PBM seaplane during the Korean conflict. Rodgers was awarded an Air Medal for meritorious achievement while flying over Pusan Bay.

He received his private pilot fixed wing license in 1957 and joined the Army to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School. He graduated from the Army helicopter maintenance school and went on to graduate from helicopter pilot training in May of 1959. He served a tour in Korea and then in South Vietnam in 1961. While in Vietnam, Rodgers flew 18 passenger double rotor helicopters, ferrying troops. He served as assistant maintenance officer with the first helicopter unit.

Rodgers returned to civilian flying in 1962. He flew for several years with Mississippi Valley Helicopters of Wahoo, NE. There he flew support of the construction of the Nike-Minuteman missile site. He flew for the filming of the Chevrolet Corvette commercials over the Royal Gorge in Colorado. He then worked for a Colorado company spraying crops and forest fires.

Rodgers taught US Army primary helicopter pilots for ten years at Fort Walters, Texas. He returned to Kearney, NE in 1973 where he started Rodgers Helicopter Service. Here he did crop spraying, power line patrol and construction, heavy lifting and rescue. In 1981-2, Rodgers set up an air ambulance service. After many hours of labor, Good Samaritan Air Care of Kearney transported it’s first patient on March 4, 1982. They quickly provided critical care flights for Nebraska and Northern Kansas. Ron Rodgers has accumulated over 22,000 hours in helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. His dedication and safety record as a pilot, flight instructor and mechanic over the past 60 years are the reasons he is being inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame.

 

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