Walter J. Boyne is the former Chairman of the Board of Wingspan, the Air and Space Aviation Channel, and President of his own firm, Walter Boyne Associates. The author of 38 books, he is one of the few persons to have had best sellers on both the fiction and the non-fiction list of the New York Times.
Boyne began his military career as an enlisted man at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He spent three goof-off but happy months as a pre-cadet at Goodfellow before being assigned to Columbus AFB, Mississippi for primary training in T-6Ds. He graduated from advanced at Reese in 52-H, and was assigned to the 330th Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle, flying copilot in B-50Ds. Flew the base T-33s, C-45s and B-25s. In 1954 he trained in B-47s at McConnell and flew at Castle as a copilot again. Squadron Officer School in 1956. Went to AFIT, at U. of California, Berkeley for BSBA. Flew C-45s and C-123s out of Hamilton. Then sent to Kirtland AFB to 4925th Test Group (Nuclear), checked out as aircraft commander in B-47s and B-52s, flew base C-47s and B-25s. Participated in Operation Dominic, last live drops of atomic weapons in 1962. Back to school for MBA at U. of Pittsburgh, flying C-47s, then to Dayton to be a program officer for KC/RC-135s. Exec for Maj. Gen Jeffries at ASD. IP in C-47s. Then to Seattle DCASR as Contracts Officer, flying out of McChord, C-47 IP and U-3. Surprise below the zone promotion to Lt.Col. Assigned to Utapao, RTAFB in 1968, IP in C-47, Commander of 635 Services Squadron; to Pentagon in 1969, RDGB, flying C-47s, C-131, T-29; promoted to O-6 in October 1971; no more flying; to California as Quality Control Manger, DCASD, then retired. Total flying time just over 5,000 (including a little civilian time.) Invited to fly a four hour familiarization ride in B-1B in 1989.
After his retirement in 1974, he joined the National Air & Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Early in his museum career, Boyne personally saw to the establishment of the Silver Hill Garber Facility as the world's premier restoration and preservation facility for air and space craft. He was also responsible for the original installation and suspension of all of the artifacts in the Museum.
He became Acting Director in 1981 and Director in 1983. At NASM he founded Air & Space magazine, initiated the new all-glass restaurant, secured an agreement with NASA to fly IMAX cameras on Shuttle Flights, and supervised three IMAX films, including The Dream is Alive. When Don Engen was FAA Administrator, he and Boyne signed the agreement giving 83 acres of land to the Smithsonian, thus initiating the process to establish the new Dulles extension of the NASM.
In his capacity as Director, he served as pro bono consultant to dozens of museums in many different countries, a task he continued in a professional role after his retirement. He has acted as consultant for the Museum of Flying, in Santa Monica, the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, the Aerospace Education Center in Little Rock, and for many others.
Upon his retirement in 1986, he began a third career of writing and consulting. He has written more than 800 articles, thirty-three nonfiction books and five novels. He is the author of aviation sections in the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as in three other encyclopedias, including Encarta.
His fourth career, in television, began five years ago, when he served as Chairman of the Board of Wingspan, the Air and Space Channel.
He is married to his wife of 50 years, Jeanne; they have four adult children, five terrific grandchildren, two priceless dogs and two great cats.