Hawkins inducted into Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame

By: 
Marlys Good

The late Daniel “Dan” Hawkins is one of the latest inductees into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame for  work in the field of aviation.

Dan, who was born May 25, 1927 in South Dakota, spent his first years on a ranch near Ft. Pierre. As a teenager life took him to Rapid City, where at the age of 16, he went to work at a nearby airport. His duties included washing the planes and acting as a “go-fer.” 

Dan realized it would take a “lot of money” to take flying lessons and obtain a pilot’s license. So, he worked as many hours as he could, and did anything asked of him. 

He came to realize that perhaps a “faster route” to earning his lessons and a license was to join the National Guard. 

He spent 18 years in the National Guard that included a tour in Germany, and while in the reserves, was called back to  active duty in 1960 during the Cuban crisis. 

But it was all worth it – he got to attend flight school, he obtained his license and fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot.

The process took him from Texas to Fort Rucker, Ala.,  back to Mineral Wells and San Antonio, Texas – and points between.

His first job was with Southern Airways (1956/57) mostly dealing with helicopter training.

The family, that included wife Jean, son Bob, and daughters Barbara and Theresa, saw a lot of country before moving to Greybull in the early 1960s when Dan went to work for Morris Aviation, owned by Morris Avery. A one-year “tour” back in  South Dakota and the family returned to Greybull and Dan went back to work for Morris Avery. Avery passed away in 1965.

 Dan and Gene Powers purchased the company in 1969, changed the name to Hawkins & Powers and the company became known for its innovations in aerial firefighting techniques and slurry delivery systems. The business operated for  35 years before closing in 2005.

According to the release from WYDOT Public Affairs,  Dan was a pioneer in the use of helicopters in mountain flying, search and rescue, the energy industry, agricultural and rangeland, and wildlife applications, In 2000 he received the Helicopter Association International’s prestigious Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award for his mountain flying accomplishments and innovations. In 2006 he received the Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding service to the civil helicopter community.

In a different vein, Hawkins appeared as the helicopter pilot in the 1968 John Wayne-Katharine Ross movie “Hellfighers,” that was filmed near Casper; he also placed a bison monument on top  of Cedar Mountain west of Cody to mark the site where Buffalo Bill Cody wished to be buried.

Dan was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1999.

From washing airplanes at a small airport in South Dakota to induction into two Aviation Halls of Fame.

His son, Bob, also a pilot, said simply, “Dad had a fantastic career; flying was Dad’s passion throughout his life.”