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6 08, 2014

Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

Re-Inducted in 2003

First To Achieve Successful Powered Flight In A Heavier-Than-Air-Machine, 1903

Wilbur Wright
1867 – 1912

Orville Wright
1871 – 1948

The Wright brothers made the world’s first four successful airplane flights on the cold, windswept sands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Their “Flyer” lifted from level ground to the north of Big Kill Devil Hill at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, 1903. Orville piloted the 605-pound machine during the first flight, traveling 120 feet in 12 seconds.

Although Wilbur achieved the best results of the day on the fourth and final flight, 852 feet in 59 seconds, it is Orville’s earlier flight that is best remembered. As Orville later described:

“This flight lasted only 12 seconds, but it was nevertheless the first in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without a reduction in […]

6 08, 2014

John Knudsen Northrop

Inducted in 2002

Pioneer In The Aerospace Industry

1895 – 1981

John “Jack” Northrop’s aerospace career began in 1916 as a mechanical draftsman-engineer for the Loughead Aircraft Company. In 1923 he joined the Douglas Aircraft Company and helped design the famous “World Cruisers” — the first airplanes to fly around the world. He later rejoined the Lockheed (Loughead) Aircraft Company as chief engineer. While there he designed the immortal Vega series of airplanes with their unique prefabricated fuselage and aerodynamic design. Piloted by legendary flyers Wiley Post and Amelia Earhart, the Vega design established many record-breaking flights.

Northrop founded his first aircraft company in 1928, Avion Corporation, which became the Northrop Aircraft Corporation in 1930. Under his leadership, the company designed and built the first all-metal body airplanes, the Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

In 1939, the newly formed Northrop Corporation changed its focus from commercial to military aircraft designs. During World War II, the company […]

6 08, 2014

Clyde Vernon Cessna

Inducted in 2001

General Aviation Pioneer

1879 – 1954

Born in Iowa and growing up on a Kansas farm, Clyde Cessna exhibited an aptitude for mechanics and became an expert in repairing farm machinery and early automobiles. Later, he took charge of an automobile sales and service agency in Enid, Oklahoma.

Impressed by the simplicity and performance of early monoplanes, Cessna built his own and taught himself to fly it in 1911. Steadily improving this plane, he used it in exhibition flights throughout Kansas and Oklahoma. After moving to Wichita, he built the Cessna-Jones Six and Comet monoplanes and used them in aerial exhibitions until World War I.

In 1925, Cessna helped form a travel air manufacturing company to build biplanes and became its president. In 1926, he developed an advanced monoplane. Two models, the City of Oakland and the Woolorac, set transpacific records in 1927. Leaving travel air, he developed a cantilevered-wing monoplane, formed […]

6 08, 2014

Donald W. Douglas

Inducted in 2000

Pioneer Aircraft Designer And Manufacturer

1892 – 1981

Donald Willis Douglas, native of Brooklyn, New York, contributed to the nation’s aeronautical safety and progress as a designer and manufacturer of military and commercial aircraft. In 1936 he opened the era of mass airline travel with the introduction of the DC-3, the first passenger airliner that made flying comfortable and practical.

Douglas became interested in aviation when he witnessed Orville Wright’s flights in the Army’s bi-plane at Fort Myer, Virginia. He transferred from the United States Naval Academy to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated in 1914 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. He served as a civilian aeronautical engineer with the U.S. Army in 1915 and later became chief engineer of the Glen L. Martin Company.

In 1920, Douglas formed the Douglas Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, which manufactured private, commercial, and military aircraft. In 1924 the company established […]

4 08, 2014

Harriet Quimby

Inducted in 1999

First Licensed Woman Pilot In America, 1911, And First Woman To Solo The English Channel, 1912

1875 – 1912

Harriet Quimby was born on a farm near Coldwater, Michigan. The year the Wright brothers made the first flights, Quimby was a journalist in New York City. While pursuing her journalism career, she was also secretly taking flying lessons. She soon became the subject of her own articles.

In October 1910, Quimby was accepted at the Moisant School of Aviation in Mineola, New York. The Moisant School built monoplanes in the style of the French Bleriot XI and held both ground school and flight training. It was here on August 1, 1911, after passing the flight training requirements, that she became the first licensed woman pilot in America.

After some exhibition flying in Mexico with the Moisant International Aviators Exhibition Team, Quimby returned to New York to begin preparations to be the first […]

4 08, 2014

Anne Baumgartner Carl and Jean Hixson

Inducted in 1999

First Women To Fly American Military Aircraft; Women Air Service Pilots

Anne Baumgartner Carl
1918 – 2008

Jean Hixson
1922 – 1984

During the early months of World War II, there was a critical shortage of male pilots. America’s foremost woman pilot, Jacqueline Cochran, convinced General H. “Hap” Arnold that a corps of properly trained female pilots could serve as backups for male pilots needed for combat duty. Eventually, 1,074 women completed training and earned their silver wings, thus forming the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). They were the first women to fly American military aircraft. Anne Baumgartner Carl and Jean Hixson were among that group.

Anne Baumgartner Carl learned to fly in 1940 at Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. She soloed with just eight hours of instruction in a 50-horsepower Piper Cub. Carl learned about the WASP while working as a writer for the New York Times and in January […]

4 08, 2014

John P. Stapp, M.D.

Inducted in 1998

Pioneer In Aerospace Medicine

1910 – 1999

John Stapp began his career as a medical officer in the United States Air Force where he organized and founded two laboratories, the Aeromedical Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. From 1946 to 1963, Dr. Stapp pioneered research on the effects of mechanical forces upon living tissue.

Among the many projects that Stapp directed, the High Speed Sled Project is of special note. During these tests, he was the chief volunteer, making 29 of the rocket sled runs himself. On December 10, 1954, Stapp became the “fastest person on earth” when the rocket sled reached 632 miles per hour in 5 seconds and decelerated to a stop of 690 feet in 1.4 seconds at 40 times the speed of gravity. This stop is equivalent to hitting a brick wall at 60 […]

4 08, 2014

Colonel Joe Kittinger

Inducted in 1998

First To Fly Solo Across The Atlantic Ocean In A Helium Balloon, 1984

1928 –

Joe Kittinger, a native of Orlando, Florida, and eventually a Colonel in the Air Force, began flying aircraft in 1949. Kittinger qualified in practically all types of flying machines including hang gliders, hot air and gas balloons, propeller driven aircraft, and jet aircraft.

On August 16, 1960, he set three world records: the highest parachute jump (102,800 feet), the longest parachute free fall (4 minutes 36 seconds), and the first person to exceed the speed of sound without an aircraft or space vehicle (714 mph during free fall). In September 1984, Kittinger set a world record for the longest distance flown in a 3,000 cubic meter helium balloon. This first solo transatlantic balloon flight from Caribou, Maine, to Montenotte, Italy, covered 3,543 miles in 86 hours.

Colonel Kittinger received the Distinguished Flying Cross on five occasions, two […]

4 08, 2014

Tom Davis

Inducted in 1997

Pioneer In Commercial Aviation

1918 – 1999

Tom Davis was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He fell in love with aviation at an early age when his father took him to see barnstorming pilots fly. By the time he entered high school, Davis was spending his allowance on flying lessons. Davis spent one summer working for his former flight instructor who owned the Camel City Flying Service, which sold and leased planes, performed maintenance and trained pilots.

Early in his senior year at the University of Arizona, Davis quit school and returned home to help his struggling former employer whose company faced overdue loan payments. He helped repay the loan and reorganize the company a few months later. In 1940 he changed the company’s name to Piedmont Aviation, Inc., the holding company for Piedmont Airlines. During World War II, the company trained military pilots.

On February 20, 1948, Piedmont Airlines made its […]

4 08, 2014

General Henry H. Arnold

Inducted in 1997

Father Of The United States Air Force; First Five-Star General

1886 – 1950

For 40 years, General Henry H. Arnold worked to advance the cause of American military air power and an independent Air Force. His efforts were finally recognized when on September 18, 1947, the United States Air Force was established as a separate branch of the Armed Forces.

“Hap” Arnold graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the class of 1907. He served as a lieutenant with the infantry for several years after leaving West Point. In 1911, Arnold received flight training at the Wright School of Aviation at famous Huffman Prairie near Simms Station in Dayton, Ohio. Arnold later wrote in his autobiography, “More than anyone I have ever known or read about, the Wright brothers gave a sense that nothing is impossible.” On May 9, 1911, Lieutenant Arnold made his first solo flight. […]