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Gone West: Former NAA Chairman Walter Boyne

Also Served As Director Of The Smithsonian's National Air And Space Museum

Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.), Command Pilot, Combat Veteran, Aviation Historian, Author, former Director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and former Chairman of NAA passed away on January 9, 2020. He was 90.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing yesterday of former National Aeronautic Association Chairman Walter Boyne," said NAA President, Greg Principato. "Whether as a test pilot, as Director of the National Air & Space Museum, or as one of the best and most prolific aviation writers who ever lived, Walter left his stamp on American aviation. In each of these roles he inspired future generations to even greater heights.

"Walter’s legacy was recognized by, among so many awards, the Aero Club of Washington’s Engen Trophy and by Walter’s 2007 enshrinement in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Walter chaired the NAA board during a difficult time for the organization and steered us through to new heights. Walter will be missed, but can never be forgotten.”

According to the NAA, growing up in East Saint Louis, Walter Boyne was, in his words, “a shrimp, and quite a bit of a wimp.” At Holy Angels, a mis-named parochial grade school, Boyne found that he could avoid the regular schoolyard beatings by writing reports for bullies –his first writing job. After serving in Vietnam, Boyne thought once again about a writing career. He sold his first article about the P-36 Curtiss Hawk to the British Royal Air Force review, for which he made all of 29 dollars.

Boyne was a nuclear test pilot with the 4925th Nuclear Test Group flying B-47’s and B-52’s at Kirtland Air Force Base.
In 1983, Boyne was named Director of the National Air and Space Museum. Under his tenure he established the Air and Space magazine, negotiated an agreement to fly an IMAX camera aboard the Space Shuttle.
Boyne co-founded “Wingspan – the Air & Space Channel.”
Boyne has written more than 1,000 articles, 44 non-fiction books and seven novels, all focused on aviation.
 
Walter J. Boyne joined the Air Force in 1951 and earned his wings a year later. He flew as a B-50 and B-47 combat crew member in the Strategic Air Command and later was a nuclear test pilot with the 4925th Nuclear Test Group at Kirtland AFB, flying both the B-47 and B-52.

After serving in Vietnam, Colonel Boyne retired and joined the National Air and Space Museum as an assistant curator in 1974 and was eventually appointed as its Director. From 1983 to 1986 Boyne oversaw many aspects of museum operations and pioneered numerous projects to provide the highest level of aerospace education and information.

Boyne began a prolific research and writing career in 1962. Since then, he has written more than 500 articles, 28 non-fiction books and 4 novels, all focusing on aviation, with several books appearing on the New York Times Bestseller list.

(Image provided with NAA news release)

FMI: www.nationalaviation.org

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