The National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame Nominations Board is pleased to announce that Dean Wilson is being inducted into the National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame. Dean W. Wilson, 87, of Clarkston, Washington has been selected to be the 53rd inductee into the National Ag Aviation Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place at the National Agricultural Aviation Association’s Ag Aviation Expo December 7, 2023 in Palm Springs California.
Dean’s aviation accomplishments are many as he started his flight training at age 13 and his aviation mechanic training at age 17. Dean had 13 years experience as an Agricultural Pilot and had converted a couple of UMF Wacos into dusters/ sprayers. After being an Agricultural Pilot, Dean started instructing and flying sailplanes. He had plans to design sailplane wings for a Waco which gave rise to him developing a brand-new agricultural aircraft which is the Eagle DW-1 biplane. At the time Dean was working for Joe Terteling in Boise, Idaho restoring antique airplanes who financed the Eagle project.
Dean spent 4 years bringing the Eagle DW-1 from design to production. The Eagle has long wooden wings with microlam spars (engineered wood). Reducing drag on a biplane and obtaining FAA approval for the wings along with the use of epoxy glue were some of the unique challenges he faced. The Eagle DW-1 had a production run of 90 aircraft from 1979 through 1983. Many of the aircraft are still in use today, with 30 aircraft currently in the FAA’s registration database. The DW-1 was known to have a very good spray pattern and combined with more current knowledge of nozzles and aircraft spray equipment, is currently being looked at as an aircraft that can be used in sensitive areas.
Dean has an aircraft designers’ heart as he went on to develop the Avid Flyer a kit-built aircraft that is still in production. In 1983 he won the EAA Best New Design for the Avid Flyer. He was the 1998 recipient of the Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to the design of light aircraft. Dean was inducted into the EAA’s Homebuilders Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2014, Dean was inducted into the Idaho Aviation Hall of Fame.
In the 100-year history of Agricultural Aviation there have only been a handful of individuals and companies who have brought a purpose built newly designed agricultural aircraft to market. Dean Wilson is one of these individuals.
The National Agricultural Aviation Hall of Fame is housed in the Jim Buck Ross Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum located in Jackson, Mississippi.