Neighbours: Meet Bill Hug – Berthoud Weekly SurveyorBerthoud Weekly Surveyor

Anyone who meets Bill Hug leaves with some impressions of him. First, he is outgoing and loves people. Second, it is logical and organized. Finally, Hug, who has lived in Burgdorf for 31 years, is a die-hard Wisconsin Badger fan.

Photo of Bob McDonnell – Burgdorf resident Bill Hug holds a wooden model he made of an experimental aircraft he built and flew.

Hug, 78, graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in civil engineering. He worked for 34 years for Morrison-Knudsen, a civil engineering and construction company. His work included that of project manager. The company carries out modifications of nuclear power plants, replacement of components and dismantling.

Hug’s job required a few moves during his life. Detail-oriented Hug has a road atlas with a two-page map of the United States that he maintained for many years. He carefully noted with a black marker each place where he lived, as well as the dates. The engineer in him also has notes on the longitude and latitude of sites.

Hug discovered his love for airplanes and flying very early in life. The father of one of his friends who was growing up was a prominent businessman who owned an airplane. Hug’s first ride was when he was in sixth grade. He, his buddy and a few other classmates all enjoyed a ride that day.

Later, Hug got in touch with the Experimental Aircraft Association. The EAA is an international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

In the summer of 1961, while Hug was still in high school, he attended an EAA rally in Rockford, Illinois. This was accomplished thanks to his buddy whose father had a plane.

Hug was in his early 50s when he moved to Burgdorf. Earlier, Hug bought a kit to build his own plane. He chose the purchased house south of Burgdorf, ensuring that the new house had space for his plane to take off and land.

It took Hug about four years on a part-time basis to build the tandem two-seater aircraft. The body was an aluminum construction. Hug says fiberglass is used in airplanes today.

Over time, Hug earned his pilot’s license. “I figured that out on bits,” Hug said. In 1995, Hug took his first flight in his homebuilt aircraft.

Later, after years of fun, he sold his plane. His last flight was in 2016. He still has a scale model he made from balsa wood and other wood he carved and painted.

Hug had other adventures in his life. While in college, he took a job in Alaska. He thought he would have a job in the field but ended up in an office in downtown Fairbanks. The first weekend there, he explored the area by hitchhiking. The man who drove it had a farm outside of town.

Hug asked if he could camp at the farm for the rest of the summer. One of the properties was an old rustic one room cabin. Hug lived there for his entire stay that summer.

Photo by Bob McDonnell – Burgdorf pensioner Bill Hug shows a map with all the places he lived in his life.

Traveling across the country, Hug worked on several power plant projects. Sometimes it involved replacing steam generators.

While in Colorado, Hug used his civil engineering skills to help demolish the Fort St. Vrain Nuclear Power Plant. The factory was located in Weld County. In 1991, he took part in the planning phases for the closure and dismantling of the plant. The following year, the factory was demolished.

Hug is fully retired. He still manages to fly from time to time, when he hitchhikes with one of his old buddies from the EAA. He walks in his neighborhood with his cross dog Shepard-Rottweiler. This is his eleventh dog in his life. He enjoys his retirement in Burgdorf. He would like to be more active in the community. Hug says: “I’ve always loved Berthoud.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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