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Former Glenwood pilot to be inducted in MN Aviation Hall of Fame

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GLENWOOD -- Peter G. Tanis, an inventor and longtime flight instructor in Glenwood, is among nine people being inducted this month into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.

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The ceremony will take place April 30.

Tanis, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., learned to fly when he was 16 years old. He then earned his mechanics license, graduating from high school in Iowa in 1954. He attended the Moody Bible Institute in 1959 to join the missionary aviation program.

Tanis taught aviation maintenance at Watertown Vocational Technical College in Iowa from 1968 to 1971 and began testing his ideas for an engine heater using a more efficient method than forced air.

He invented the electric pre-heater and discovered the use of ceramic elements, patenting his idea before selling his first pre-heating system. The concept, which used specialized heating elements to heat the entire airplane engine from the cylinder heads to the case and oil, caught on. When the business outgrew his basement in Iowa, Tanis moved to Glenwood in 1977, where the business flourished.

The business became a family operation with Tanis's wife, Betty, and three children working to perfect the heating system. During this time, Tanis also operated a maintenance shop and avionics shop, and gave flight instruction at Glenwood Airport. He published many technical papers and was regarded as the guru of aircraft pre-heating and cold-weather flying.

In 1988, Tanis received the Minnesota Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic of the Year Award, as well as a Distinguished Service Award from the National Air Transport Association for his contributions to general aviation.

He died in 2000.

Along with inducting new members for 2011, the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame will present two or more scholarships to young people entering careers in the aviation field. The Federal Aviation Administration also will present several awards.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony. To join the mailing list for receiving reservation materials, contact the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 53, Park Rapids, Minn. 56470 or nallard@unitelc.com. The deadline for reservations is April 10.

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