2018 Distinguished Alumni Honoree
Bill Hayes graduated from OMA High School in 1959. Hayes served as President of the Senior Class, earned President’s Honor Roll, Best Drilled Cadet, Outstanding Cadet ID Disk, and was editor of the “Guidon.” He was also a member of the Chevron Society, “O” Club, Cadet Capers, OMA Band, and the Honor Society while lettering in basketball and rifle team. He was the first DeMolay MC.
After receiving extensive Navy training in Aviation Electronics, Hayes flew aboard Early Warning aircraft flying 8- to 15-hour missions over the North Atlantic DEW line while based in Newfoundland and Iceland and later in similar AD-5Q missions from the USS Independence.
After his discharge from the military, Hayes joined Hughes Aircraft and worked on the first commercial communications satellite (Early Bird) program providing Europe/US 24/7 telephony. This was the dawn of the “via satellite” era. He was the Test Director for S/C in the constellation that established the first world wide communications capability.
Hayes served as mission director for the first domestic communications systems satellites for the United States, Canada, Japan, Indonesia, and India and with S/C for special applications such as aircraft-ground communications, satellite direct TV/Radio, and weather cloud cover pics/data.
Hayes managed the selection, procurement, and integration of launch vehicles for SS/L S/C from the world’s inventory and directed the planning and execution of launch campaigns at launch sites in the US, Russia, Ukraine, French Guinea, China, and Japan.
Hayes has been responsible for all aspects of satellite manufacturing including systems engineering, integration, test, launch, mission control centers, and flight operations including the design, manufacture, and operation of support equipment for these disciplines. At his retirement, SS/L was the recognized world’s leader in large reliable commercial satellites.
Hayes and his wife, Barbara, enjoy spoiling their six grandkids. He contributes to national veteran’s affairs (member of American Legion) and to fellow vets at the local veterans hospital.
Hayes believes his abilities to recognize other people’s talents/limitations, assign them appropriately, and to motivate/execute teamwork were derived through the leadership skills he attained from his OMA experience.