Allard inducted into state Aviation Hall of Fame
Growing up near the airport in Minneapolis led to a life of aviation for Park Rapids resident Noel Allard.
He was recently inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame for his contributions to the aviation field, although many people in the Park Rapids area know him for his involvement in the Park Rapids Antique Tractor & Engine Club.
"Tractors are as much fun as airplanes," he said.
But he has always had a soft spot for flying.
Allard took his first airplane ride in 1949 at Wold-Chamberlain Field in a Piper Pacer from the Ray Hense Flight School. He earned his private license at Flying Cloud Field in 1967 at Executive Aero. His license is signed by Walt Henning.
After two years in the Cloud Seven Flying Club, Allard bought a 1946 Aeronca Chief and flew it until 1976. Then, he disassembled it and completely restored it to its original condition. He flew it until 2001.
Allard's family lived under the approach of one of Minneapolis' main runways and he became fascinated with airplanes as he looked up to the sky.
"This is what happens when you grow up near a runway," he joked.
In 1969, Allard helped start up a model airplane club called Twin City Aero Historians, which is still going strong today.
Some of his favorite aviation moments were working on antique airplane restorations. He has worked on Jack Lysdale's Hamilton Metaplane. He was able to fly it on a trip to Blakesburg, Iowa.
He began a hobby business manufacturing replica decals and data plates for antique restorations, a hobby he still works on.
He wrote the Mystery Plane column in the Minnesota Flyer for 15 years and was a member of the Air Guard Museum Foundation Board of Directors for 15 years.
"One of the unique things I did was help restore the Spirit of St. Louis replica," he said.
The plane hung in the Minneapolis-St. Paul terminal for several years.
He also co-created a Cold War Veteran's Memorial in Inver Grove Heights.
"It was to honor the crew of a B-52 bomber that crashed in 1959," Allard said.
Allard has written two books on Minnesota aviation history. He spent nearly 20 years doing research, he said.
He wrote a biography of Speed Holman and a book that chronicles Minnesota aviation history from 1857-1945. He interviewed hundreds of pioneers in aviation.
He was chairman of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame for 19 years and is now the executive director.
After retiring from a career in graphic arts, Allard and his wife, Mary, moved to the Park Rapids area.
He now serves on the Park Rapids Airport Commission and continues to build model airplanes.
"I still get phone calls, weekly, people referred to me with history questions about aviation," he said.
Allard is also secretary of the Park Rapids Antique Tractor & Engine Club. He finds many similarities to restoring tractors and airplanes.