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Mario Fontana

Starting as a pilot in 1929, Fontana devoted his life to air transportation in Michigan. Working with automaker Henry Ford, he helped establish Ford Airport in Dickinson County, where he started his own air service company and began operating the first airmail service from the Upper Peninsula in 1938. During World War II, he established flight schools in Rochester, Minn., and at Michigan Technological University which trained more than 4,500 pilots for the armed forces. He was the longest-serving member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, completing five four-year terms between 1947 and 1979. His leadership and constant concern for aviation safety were primary in developing a reliable, integrated air transportation system throughout the state.

Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor, 1994