By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Joyce Recognized By Aviation Association


February 9, 2018

Courtesy Photo

James Joyce was recently inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame.

The recognition took place during the annual Nebraska Aviation Symposium held in Kearney Jan. 25.

James E. Joyce was raised on a farm outside Atlantic, Iowa and graduated from high school in 1958. Shortly after, he attended Parks College of Aviation in Saint Louis, Mo.

He received his Airframe and Powerplant Certificate and returned to Atlantic to begin his aviation career.

During the next 10 years, he worked for Walnut Grove Products and E. C. Henningsen Construction. He served as a mechanic for both companies on their corporate aircraft as well as some that were used as rentals. These aircraft consisted of mostly Cessna and Beechcraft single and twin engines. During this time, he received his Private Pilot certificate.

In 1969, Joyce accepted a teaching position in the aviation maintenance department with Western Nebraska Vocational Technical School in Sidney. While moving his young family to Sidney, he would say "To give it a try for a couple of years."

Jim retired in May of 2006 after a 36-year tenure. During this time, in addition to teaching, he also served as a division chairman for the technical programs. In 1988 Western Nebraska Technical College became Western Nebraska Community College. In 1996, Joyce was instrumental in the project to build a new aviation maintenance facility at the Sidney Airport.

The project was completed in the summer of 1997. Jim and his aviation assistant Jim Dimmick moved the aircraft and every piece of equipment from the original location at the Sioux Army Depot to the Sidney Airport. With one pick-up and a flatbed trailer the 24 mile round trip was made three or four times a day. The fall of 97 classes started on time, without interruption, in the new facility.

Jim held his Inspection Authorization for more than 25 years. He Inspected and helped maintain most of the local aircraft. He would often be called by the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO) for advice on a unique situation, like lifting a Beech 18 off the runway after the gear collapsed.

Former students often called for advice in troubleshooting various problems that were not always aviation related. He enjoyed air-cooled Volkswagens. He knew just how far one could be pushed before a rod would come through the case. This can only be learned by trial and error. Boxes are still being found with bent VW 1800 cc stroker rods.

Joyce was elected to two terms on the Sidney Airport Authority and served as chairman for several years. He was involved in projects which include repaving the main runway and a new 22,000 gallon fuel farm.

Joyce is an aircraft mechanic, but first and foremost he is an educator. His sense of humor and watchful eye made him an excellent instructor. Jim's willingness to share his wealth of knowledge made learning exciting and fun. It's impossible to know for certain, but without a doubt he taught more than 1,000 mechanics. He left a lasting impression on those who studied under him.

The Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame was created to preserve the memory of outstanding aviation contributions by citizens of the State of Nebraska. The nominee must be a native born Nebraskan or have performed significant portions of their aviation-related work while a resident of Nebraska. Nominations include a description of the candidate's aviation achievements.


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