William C. Voigt Dover fell hopelessly in love with airplanes. At age seven, in 1927 when Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, the lad declared his intention: to become a pilot like “Lindy.” He fulfilled his dream many times over and today at eighty-seven continues his romance with wings. As a charter member of the Dover Air Force Base Airlift Museum volunteer corps, Major Voigt has devoted hundreds of hours annually to aircraft restoration.
Norman H. Runge (1934-2006) of Bear gave the last 50 years of his life to aviation - both civil and military, in the air and on the ground. Among his many awards were the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Award. In 1987 Colonel Runge hung up his uniform and became Professor Runge and later Dr. Runge. He joined Wilmington University to head the aviation program. Ever the aviation activist, Col. Runge served on the board of the Delaware Pilots Association, was president of the Brig. Gen. William Spruance chapter of the Air Force Association, and was a trustee of the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame from 2003 until 2006.
Michael D. Leister, one-time C-5 Galaxy crew chief, had a dream whose realization blossomed into one of the First State’s leading tourist attractions. His idea: Restore the most historically significant World War II B-17 in existence and display it at a major museum. Mike’s work is widely recognized. He has been named the Military Airlift Command Civilian of the Year and Air Force Reserve Crew Chief of the Year. Community recognitions include Kent County Tourism Person of the Year and Southern Delaware Chamber of Commerce of Outstanding Individual of the Year.
Alfred F. Johnson Jr. was born and bred a potato farmer. He started life in 1933 on Long Island N.Y., where he learned to fly at a young age. In 1952 his family moved to magnolia, Del. Al’s job was operating ground sprayers on the Johnson-Anderson potato farm. Al’s passion for flying led him to explore ways to use his wings to improve production and economics of farming.
Willis Lloyd Carter (1920-2010), of Milford, flew 30 B-17 missions in World War II, mostly deep into Germany under fierce Luftwaffe attack and anti-aircraft fire. Because of outstanding bombing scores on their first seven missions, the Carter crew was selected to fly as a group leader on the rest of their flights. Lt. Carter was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters (for “courage and skill” during several bombing attacks), the European Theater Medal with four battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Theodore P. Crichton of Wilmington served in the U.S. armed forces for 36 years and worked for 20 years in private industry. He was an Air Force pilot, staff officer and operational unit commander, serving as a squadron commander, wing commander, and air division commander. He served as vice commander of the 21st Air Force.