Dobson: Ray Johnson saved airport

Ray Johnson (right) has his picture taken by Sherman Booen of the Minnesota Flyer magazine during a Sunday fly-in breakfast at the Tracy Airport. To Johnson’s right is Capt. Sampson of the local Civil Air Patrol. Headlight Herald file photo.
Ray Johnson
Photo courtesy Marshall

Longtime Tracy resident remembers friend, pilot who died after plane crash

By Per Peterson

Homer Dobson doesn’t mince words when it comes to Ray Johnson. The Tracy resident with strong airport ties said it’s because of Johnson that the city has the airport it enjoys today.
Johnson, the founder of Midwest Aviation of Marshall who operated Tracy Air Service in the 1960s and served as the Tracy Airport manager, died Monday from injuries sustained in the July 27 plane crash near Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Johnson’s seaplane overturned while attempting to take off from Lake Winnebago, authorities said. A female passenger in the plane, 71-year-old Diane (Williams) Linker of Sauk Rapids, also died and a third person in the six-seat plane was released from the hospital last week.
Linker was born in Tyler, according to her obituary, and was a friend to Johnson. She was to attend the 1964 Balaton High School class reunion this past Saturday, according to classmate Merlyn Seaton.
“We rode the school bus together,” said Seaton. “Quiet little girl, soft-spoken. She was a good friend.”
Dobson said Johnson started in Tracy with very little, outside of a determination to succeed, and “he did just that with a lot of hard work and dedication to the community and to his family. If he hadn’t been on the scene back then, the airport probably would’ve been plowed up.”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.