James C. Ray


Facts & Achievements


Flight Hours


Countries Visited


WWII Missions



The Details

Ten years of royalties from the worldwide sale of the TRI-VIB vaccine were distributed through the Ray Foundation to support two of their causes, youth anti-drug education and mental health programs.

Much of James’ philanthropy was done anonymously over the years. He sought no recognition or thanks, as the success of the programs he supported was the best thanks of all.

James took to electronic technology in its early stages and never came across a gadget he didn't love and use.

James and Joan were married for 36 years and raised two children along with Joan's two children from a previous marriage. The family resided in Gstaad, Switzerland for the majority of the 1950's.

James was a prolific reader and student of history, with a particular interest in the biographies of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Awards Given

Air Medal, U.S. Army Air Corps

Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters, U.S. Army Air Corps

James Ray Drive thoroughfare at AirVenture named in his honor (2009)

Freedom of Flight Award, Experimental Aircraft Association (1992)

Lindbergh Spirit Award, Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation (2012)

Master Pilot Award, Federal Aviation Administration (2012)

Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of North Dakota

Painting of James C. Ray with Aircraft Flown Since World War II | Ray Foundation, Inc.

Painting of James C. Ray and the numerous aircraft that he has flown since World War II. He was rated for single pilot operation of Cessna Citation jets and flew them for over 29 years. Of the many planes James flew, his favorite was the Cessna 170B, in which he visited 58 countries in during the 1950’s. 

James C. Ray Biography, Continued

James met Joan L. Paine, the love of his life, soon after his separation from the military. The couple raised two children along with Joan’s children from her former marriage. The Ray family spent a majority of their time during the 1950’s in Switzerland and moved to Montana during the 60’s where they operated a large scale cattle ranch. Their love of cattle ranching sparked an interest in finding a cure for a disease that rendered cows sterile. Through funding by Ray Foundation in 1963, a research lab was constructed and a vaccine (TRI-VIB) was developed three years later.

Beyond the cattle industry, James Ray was also active in oil and gas exploration, and real estate development throughout the course of his 45+ years as a businessman. As an early adopter of modern technology, James never met a device that he didn’t love: he was a seed investor or advisor for over 300 startup technology companies that include Compaq Computer, Viasat and Hewlett-Packard.

The Ray family’s passion for aviation can be seen in the work of Ray Foundation, Inc. today. The programs the Foundation supports strengthen families and fosters self-discipline, confidence and personal responsibility. James believed that a strength our country has is in the involvement of youth in all facets of aerospace and had faith in the talents and energy of the next generation of aviators. “What I learned in business also applies to safe flying: Don’t be greedy, and just when you think you’re a genius, you aren’t,” he said.

James C. Ray during his worldwide travels during the 1950’s.

James and Joan flew throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and North Africa in the pictured Cessna 170B.

James in Vienna, Austria during his travels in the 1950’s.

Little “Mac” and James at Rookery Bay in Naples, FL in 2008.

James at 17 years of age as a steel worker in 1940. He often cited that the job was one of the best learning experiences of his life.

James received The Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award in 2012.

Member of the Lucky Bastards Club since October 3, 1944.

Member of the Order of Quiet Birdmen and a Certified Goodfellow.