Earl Dean Baird - Honored 1981
Dean Baird was born in Sterling, Colorado in 1920. He started his flight instruction in 1940, and soloed in November 1940. He later was an instructor at the Sterling and Pueblo airports. In 1943, Dean was an advanced training program instructor in the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) Program in Carlsbad, New Mexico. In1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and initially served as an instructor at Randolph Field, Texas. Later he served in the WWII China-Burma (CBI) theater flying C-46 cargo aircraft over the extremely hazardous "Hump".
In 1946 he returned to civilian life and entered the agricultural spraying business with Hershel Abe in Sterling, Colorado. They flew the early sprayers such as the J-3 Cubs, then graduated more powerful Navy N3Ns and Stearman biplanes. These were flown from Sterling, Eaton and Wilcox, Arizona. During this time, Dean's sympathetic and cooperative approach with the local farmers built business and increased acceptance of this relatively new and innovative field.
Later, his vast aero-agriculture knowledge was applied at Ohio State University where he was an FAA. representative. In 1959 he initiated a long career in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While with the FAA he became rated in land and seaplanes, single and multi-engine, rotocraft and helicopters, gliders, and free-balloons. For a long time, he was a check pilot numerous aircraft in the Rocky Mountain area. His service with the FAA has resulted in a number of commendations, honors. His fairness, versatility and impartial judgment gave him the honorary title of "Grey Eagle". His titles in the FAA include Supervisor of General Aviation Safety and Inspector, Unit Chief Operations.
He worked with the United States Air Force Academy in establishing their glider program. During this time the program increased from 250 to over 750 solos annually, and the number of instructors increased from 25 to 80. He also assisted in the establishment of an exemplary safety program.
Dean was active in a number of organizations, including the Colorado Pilots Association., the Hump Pilots, AOPA, Quite Birdmen, Silver Wings, Flying Farmers and the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. By 1981, the year of his induction into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame he amassed over 18,000 flying hours.
Dean passed away March 9,2013.