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. […]

4 08, 2014

Lawrence B. Sperry

Inducted in 1996

Inventor of the Autopilot, Turn and Bank Indicator, and Parachute Pack

1892 – 1923

Known to his fellow aviators as “Gyro,” Lawrence Sperry was to many a handsome figure who might have stepped from the pages of a novel. His contributions were not in the entertainment industry, but rather in the many innovative flight instruments he constantly conceived, developed and personally tested.

Among Sperry’s creations are the automatic pilot, the turn and bank indicator, the seat pack parachute and retractable landing gear. He was among the first to fly at night and regularly flew night flights for the Army in 1916. He was one of the first to make parachute jumps for fun, and at the Dayton Air Show in 1918 thrilled crowds with a bold parachute jump. One of his greatest achievements in the field of military aviation was the development of the aerial torpedo.

Sperry lost his life on December […]

4 08, 2014

Paul Poberezny and Tom Poberezny

Inducted in 1996

Founder and President, Experimental Aircraft Association

Paul Poberezny, 1921-2013

Tom Poberezny, 1946 –

Paul H. Poberezny is one of the most decorated men in the international aviation community, having received hundreds of trophies, awards and honors for his countless contributions to the world of flight. He is best known as the founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), one of the world’s leading aviation organizations.

The career of Paul Poberezny includes nearly 30 years of military service as a pilot, test pilot and veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He is the only man in the armed forces to attain all seven aviation wings the military offered and did so without having the benefit of military aviation training. Paul has logged more than 30,000 hours of flight time, has piloted 391 different types of aircraft, and designed and built more than 15 different planes.

Tom Poberezny, Paul’s son, is […]

2 08, 2014

Francis and Gertrude Rogallo

Inducted in 1995

Developed The First Successful Flexible Wing

Francis Rogallo
1912 – 2009

Gertrude Rogallo
1914 – 2008

Francis Rogallo began his career as an engineer with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1936. While working at the NACA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in the late 1940s, he envisioned the possibility of a simpler, more practical, and less expensive aircraft for sport and recreation. Since the research center did not wish to undertake such a project, Rogallo decided to pursue the idea on his own in his spare time.

Rogallo conceived the thought of making an aircraft wing as a parachute-like flexible structure that would open and maintain its shape by wind pressure. With his wife Gertrude’s help, he made small models that were tested in a wind tunnel at their home. After extensive experimentation, he designed the first Rogallo wing, for which Gertrude sewed the prototype from material scavenged from the […]

2 08, 2014

Eugene B. Ely

Inducted in 1994

First Aviator To Take Off From A Ship, 1910, And First Aviator To Land On A Ship, 1911

1886 – 1911

Eugene Burton Ely, a civilian pilot from Iowa, became the first man to take off from the deck of a ship. He flew a Curtiss Model D bi-plane from a platform constructed on the bow of the cruiser USS Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on November 14, 1910.

Rain and fog threatened to delay the flight, but Ely pressed on. Witnesses saw the daring aviator coast down the platform, drop to the bay, hit the water with a splash, rise again, and continue onward to a safe landing two and one-half miles away on Willoughby Spit.

Two months later, on January 18, 1911, Ely successfully executed the first airplane landing on a ship, again in a Curtiss airplane. He departed Tanforan Field near San Francisco wearing a padded football helmet and […]

2 08, 2014

President George Herbert Walker Bush

Inducted in 1994

First Military Flyer To Become President Of The United States, 1988

1924 – 2018

George Bush was the first rated military combat pilot to be elected President of the United States. Bush enlisted in the United States Navy on June 12, 1942, his 18th birthday. He became the youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings and a commission in June 1943.

While on active duty during World War II, Bush flew torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto in the pacific campaign. His Grumman TBF “Avenger” torpedo plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and shot down in September 1944 over the Bonin Island of Chichi Jima, 600 miles south of Japan. Bush was sole survivor of the three-man crew and was rescued by the Navy submarine USS Finback. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross plus three Air Medals for his courageous service.

Bush was elected to […]

2 08, 2014

Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

Inducted in 1993

The First American In Space, 1961
The Fifth Man To Walk On The Moon, 1971

1923 – 1998

Naval aviator Alan Shepard lifted off from Pad 5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1961, at 9:34 a.m. to become the first American in space. The small Mercury capsule he named “Freedom 7” was propelled into space by a slim but powerful Redstone missile. The suborbital flight reached an altitude of 116.5 miles (space begins at 100 miles altitude or 500,000 feet) at a maximum speed of 5,180 miles per hour. In 15 minutes and 22 seconds, the flight covered a distance of 302 miles downrange.

Born in East Derry, New Hampshire, on November 18, 1923, Shepard earned a bachelor’s degree at the United States Naval Academy in 1944. He served aboard a naval destroyer prior to acceptance for flight training, and by 1950 was testing jets on aircraft carriers. In 1959 […]

2 08, 2014

Robert M Stanley and Lawrence C Craigie

Inducted in 1992

First Americans to Pilot a Jet Aircraft, 1942

Robert M. Stanley
1912 – 1977

Lieutenant General Lawrence C. Craigie
1902 – 1994

America entered the jet age on October 2, 1942, when Robert Stanley, a civilian test pilot for Bell Aircraft, flew the top secret Bell XP-59A Airacomet at Muroc Dry Lake, California.

Lieutenant General Lawrence Craigie, United States Army Air Corps, later piloted the Airacomet, becoming the first American military officer to fly a jet.

Stanley’s and Craigie’s flights were significant achievements in the development of jet aircraft and laid the foundation for advancements in jet aviation.

2 08, 2014

Sir Frank J. Whittle

Inducted in 1991

Pioneer Developer Of Turbo-jet Aircraft Engines

1907 – 1996

Sir Frank J. Whittle experimented with and constructed turbo-jet engines in pre-World War II England. In 1929 he patented a turbo-jet engine and in 1937 proved to skeptical British Air Ministry officials that a jet powered aircraft was feasible.

In 1941, a Gloster E28/39 research aircraft was fitted with a Whittle “W.1” engine that produced 800 pounds of thrust. The aircraft reached 466 miles per hour and climbed to 42,000 feet, exceeding all speed and altitude limitations of that period. The success of the Whittle “W.1” turbine engine propelled England into the jet age.

Whittle’s formal training was in mechanical engineering. During the war he rose to the rank of air commodore in the Royal Air Force and served as technical advisor to the Ministry of Supply. He retired from the RAF in 1948 and in the same year was knighted because of […]