Board of Directors
Bill Klaers is a co-owner and President of WestPac, one of the nation’s premier World War II aircraft restoration facilities. Mr. Klaers’ aviation career began as a hobby when he was working as a general contractor in California in the early 1980s. His interest in aviation evolved into a passion for military history and vintage aircraft restoration, and led to the establishment of WestPac in 1997.
In 2006, WestPac was relocated to the campus of the National Museum World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs. A tour of WestPac is an integral part of the museum experience, giving visitors an up-close look at restoration work in progress, and an opportunity to learn about the technologies and craftsmanship that went into the development of military aircraft during World War II.
In addition to his successful restoration business, Mr. Klaers is fully committed to the on-going effort to develop the National Museum of World War II Aviation into a world-class history project. He serves voluntarily as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the museum, and as its President and CEO. He serves voluntarily as President and CEO of the museum.
Kurt Peterson is the managing principal of KPM Consulting LLC, and is the former president and co-owner of Black Rapid Inc., a company engaged in the photography industry. He has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in project and business management within the real estate development and construction communities. Mr. Peterson has played a lead role as owner’s representative on several major development projects, and has successfully completed contracts totaling more than $1 billion while managing project budgets ranging up to $750 million. In addition, he has operated construction companies with annual volumes exceeding $150 million.
Mr. Peterson served as the director of Paul Allen’s vintage aircraft collection where he was responsible for acquisition, restoration and operation of the flying collection worldwide. He was also a founding member involved with the establishment of the museum for Mr. Allen’s collection.
Mr. Peterson’s initial involvement with the National Museum of World War II Aviation was during development and construction of the existing museum and WestPac facility in Colorado Springs. His continued involvement with the museum, which was inspired by his father’s service in the Air Force as a B-17 navigator, has brought in-depth development and construction management experience that will serve the organization well as the museum continues to grow.
Tom Perkins is a Colorado Springs native and is a third-generation automobile dealer. Perkins Motor Company was established in 1944 by Tom’s grandfather, George Perkins, followed by his son Will Perkins who was followed by Tom, who became president in 1985. Tom’s son David is now the president, making him the fourth generation.
Throughout his career, Mr. Perkins has been actively involved in automotive trade associations and business organizations and has served in various leadership positions in those organizations. He has been deeply involved in his church and its ministries and is a past president and a current board member of Springs Rescue Mission. Mr. Perkins is a pilot, and his interest in aviation led to his involvement with the National Museum of World War II Aviation.
Mr. Perkins graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara California in 1976 where he had a scholarship to play baseball and received a BA in Business and Economics. He and his wife Cheryl were married in 1978 and are the parents of 4 children with eleven grandchildren.
Mark Earle has 35 years of experience in aviation and airport management, with more than 20 years at the CEO level at commercial service airports in Texas and Colorado. In this capacity, his responsibilities have included oversight of airport administration, finance, operations, security, planning and development. He has developed more than $400 million in aeronautical infrastructure and business park assets at the airports under his direction.
Mr. Earle has been actively involved in military history and aviation heritage projects throughout his career. He worked on special projects at the Virginia Aviation Museum, and led the effort to develop the Silent Wings Museum which documents the history of the U.S. combat glider program in World War II. Prior to moving to Colorado Springs, Mr. Earle served on the Board of Directors of the Silent Wings Museum and the Texas Aviation Heritage Foundation, and on the Advisory Board of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University.
Mr. Earle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Business Administration from Texas State University, and is actively engaged in research work with the National Academies of Science. In addition to his governmental affairs and special projects work for the National Museum of World War II Aviation, Mr. Earle continues to work as a consultant in the aviation industry.
General Ronald Fogleman, USAF, retired in 1997 after 34 years of active service in the United States Air Force. At the pinnacle of his career, General Fogleman served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Fogleman has more than 7,600 flying hours in fighter, transport, tanker and rotary wing aircraft, including 806 hours accumulated during 315 combat missions. He has served in leadership positions throughout his military career, including command of an Air Force wing, an air division, a numbered air force, a major command and a unified command. General Fogleman has received numerous awards and decorations, and continues to be actively engaged in national defense matters and military history projects since his retirement.
General Fogelman is a 1963 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and holds a Master’s degree in military history and political science from Duke University. He has also shared his expertise in military history as an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
James Stewart is a career USAF fighter pilot with a background in aeronautical engineering, flight test, and operations research. His military career focused on the development and implementation of several key aircraft and space systems, As Vice Wing Commander while stationed at an F-15 wing in Germany, Colonel Stewart was responsible for planning and coordination of a 1985 meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Chancellor Helmut Kohl at Bitburg Air Base in Germany. This key historical event led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany.
After retirement from the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Stewart served as president of a publicly-traded company in Colorado and has established and owned several small businesses. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ent Credit Union for eleven years and now serves as Chairman Emeritus of that financial organization.
Mr. Stewart holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Technology from Boston University and a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. He has served on the Colorado Commission for Higher Education and the Colorado Governor’s Sickle Cell Advisory Board, as well as numerous boards and commissions throughout the Pikes Peak area. He is a founding director of the National Museum of World War II Aviation and serves currently on the Advisory Board of Directors. Mr. Stewart is an aircraft owner and test pilot.
Jim Johnson, the owner and president of GE Johnson Construction Company, represents the third generation of the Johnson family in the construction industry. He learned to lead the family-owned business from the ground up, first working as a laborer, and then progressing through every division of the company as his career progressed. After graduating from college, he gained experience in estimating, project supervision, project management, division management, and business development. He served in the role of Vice President before becoming President and CEO of the company in 1997.
Mr. Johnson’s passion for community service is a defining characteristic of GE Johnson Construction Company. He serves on several non-profit boards in the Colorado Springs area, and encourages GE Johnson’s employees to get involved and contribute to the success of the communities they serve.
Mr. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Science degree from Kansas State University, and is actively engaged in university affairs. He has served on the Kansas State University Foundation Board of Trustees, the Kansas State University College of Engineering Advisory Council, and the Kansas State University Alumni Association Board of Trustees.