Honored for their achievements in aviation and their communities, Colorado aviation icons Joe Thibodeau and Bill Hamilton were inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 1, 2008, during an afternoon banquet at the Lakewood Country Club.
Joe Thibodeau is a longtime Denver resident and is in his 43rd year of practicing law, limiting his practice mainly to civil and criminal tax and aviation controversy resolution. A frequent lecturer and author since 1983, Thibodeau has been an adjunct professor (Civil and Criminal Tax Procedure) in the University of Denver Tax Program. He is an active (airline transport-rated) pilot who represents airmen and entities in FAA enforcement proceedings, civil and criminal and is designated as an AOPA panel attorney.
Thibodeua serves on the Executive Committee of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum and is a member of Silver Wings Fraternity and the NBAA. Since 1996, he has successfully competed in the National Championship Air Races (Unlimited Division) in Reno, Nevada. In March of this year, Thibodeau was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to the Colorado Aeronautical Board, a seven-member body responsible for the development of aviation in the state of Colorado.
Inductee Bill Hamilton has been a full-time resident of Granby since 1992 and is currently the Central Region representative for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), working to promote general aviation and aviation safety throughout Colorado.
In 1988, Bill worked with Rep. Lewis Entz and other members of the Colorado Assembly to establish the Colorado Division of Aeronautics, the Colorado Aeronautical Board and the Colorado Aviation Trust Fund. Currently he serves as president of the Friends of the Granby Airport, Inc.
Hamilton had a distinguished 20-year military career, serving with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia. He holds Master Parachutist Wings and a Jumpmaster qualification and has trained USAF pilots in parachuting techniques. Among other awards, he holds the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. The evening before his induction into the Colorado Hall of Fame, Bill was named to the University of Oklahoma Army ROTC Wall of Fame.
The Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet was held at the Lakewood Country Club on Saturday, November 1, with special guest speaker Brigadier General (USAF Ret.) Steve Ritchie. Gen. Ritchie is a command pilot whose decorations include the Air Force Cross, four Silver Stars, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 25 Air Medals. He is a 1997 Hall of Fame Laureate.
The Colorado Aviation Historical Society (CAHS), founded in 1966, is dedicated to the preservation of the development and history of aviation in the state of Colorado and elsewhere. The CAHS Heritage Hall, showcasing Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame Laureates and Colorado aviation artifacts and exhibits, is located in Denver at the Wings Over The Rockies Museum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd., and is open to the public during regular museum hours.
The Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 to honor citizens and organizations of Colorado who have made noteworthy contributions to aviation or have accomplished significant aviation feats. The impressive list of Laureates include Emily Howell Warner, the nation’s first female pilot to be hired by a scheduled airline; former Senator Lewis H. Entz, founding member of the Colorado Aeronautical Board (CAB); and Mike Silva, a former CAB member and Denver TV news pilot.