2 08, 2014

Hans-Joachim Von Ohain, Ph.D.

Inducted in 1991

Developed The Engine Powering The World’s First Jet Plane

1911 – 1998

In 1935, German-born Hans-Joachim Pabst Von Ohain patented a jet propulsion engine design similar in concept to that of Sir Frank J. Whittle but different in internal arrangement. Von Ohain continued to develop the design and on August 27, 1939, the Heinkel He-178 experimental aircraft, powered by his centrifugal-flow HeS-3b engine, made the world’s first turbo-jet powered flight. A subse-quent design powered the first opera-tional German jet fight-er, the Me-262A, in 1942.

As World War II progressed, Von Ohain abandoned the concept of the centrifugal compressor and began developing the axial flow compressor. His new jet engine powered the Messers-chmitt 262 fighter, which first saw combat in 1944.

Von Ohain moved to the United States in 1947 under contract with the Air Force to research advanced air breath-ing propulsion systems. He later became Chief Scientist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base […]

2 08, 2014

Colonel Yuri A. Gagarin

Inducted in 1990

First Person In Space, 1961

1934 – 1968

Colonel Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin, Soviet Air Force, became a Soviet hero as the first person to break the bonds of earth’s gravity and venture into the weightlessness of space when he orbited the earth on April 12, 1961. He described sights never before seen by man.

“I could clearly discern the outlines of continents, islands and rivers. The horizon presents a sight of unusual beauty. A delicate blue halo surrounds the earth, merging with the blackness of space in which the stars are bright and clear cut.”
Gagarin’s space voyage carried the human race beyond its planetary boundaries. Only eight years later, a person walked on the moon.

Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934, in the city of Gzhatsk, Russia, into a collective farmer’s family. He graduated in 1957 from the Voroshilov Aviation Technical Academy and soon afterward became a military fighter pilot with […]

2 08, 2014

Major General Albert F. Hegenberger

Inducted in 1989

Developer Of All-Blind Flight Control System

1895 – 1983

Major General Albert Francis Hegenberger’s pioneering work in instrument flying and navigational systems led to modern aviation equipment, enabling planes to fly anywhere in almost all weather conditions.

Hegenberger graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an aeronautical engineer and served as a flight instructor during World War I. Later, as Chief of the Instrument Branch, Air Service Engineering Division, at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, he began researching flight and navigation instrument development.

In 1927, Lieutenants Hegenberger and Lester Maitland were the first to fly 2,400 miles from California to Hawaii, the longest open sea flight to date, in the “Bird of Paradise,” a Fokker C-2 Tri-Motor. They received the Mackey Trophy and the Distinguished Flying Cross from President Coolidge for this achievement.

Captain Hegenberger went on to develop a blind instrument landing system. In 1932 he made the world’s first solo […]

2 08, 2014

Bessie Coleman

Inducted in 1989

First Black Woman Licensed Pilot


Bessie Coleman was born into a poor Texas family, and although she was a bright student, poverty kept her from attending college. She moved to Chicago where she saw her first air show. The excitement and thrills created by the barnstorming stunt pilots inspired her to learn to fly.

Coleman refused to give in to the racial and gender prejudices of her day. Rejected by American flight schools, she went to France, learned to fly in Nieuport biplanes, and earned the first International Pilot’s License issued to a black woman.

Returning to America in 1921, Coleman yearned to open a flight school for black pilots. She believed “the air is the only place free from prejudices.” She turned her accomplishments into celebrity, appearing on newsreels, performing at air shows, and lecturing to encourage other blacks to pursue aviation careers.

By 1926, Coleman had raised almost enough money […]

2 08, 2014

Blanche Noyes and Louise Thaden

Inducted in 1988

First Women To Win Bendix Trophy, 1936

Blanche Noyes
1900 – 1981

Louise Thaden
1905 – 1979

In 1936, Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes won the Bendix Transcontinental Speed Race at the National Air Races in Los Angeles and became the first women recipients of the coveted Bendix Trophy. Combining talent and experience, they flew from New York to Los Angeles in 14 hours and 55 minutes in a Beechcraft model C-17R “Staggerwing,” now considered a classic aircraft design.

Louise Thaden had already achieved fame by age 23. She held women’s records in endurance, speed, and altitude categories. She had also won the Women’s Air Derby of 1929, the first all-women cross-country air race.

Blanche Noyes, wife of United States Airmail pilot Dewey Noyes, gave up an acting career to learn to fly. She took flight instructions from Noyes and soloed with less than four hours of dual instruction. She became Ohio’s first licensed woman […]

2 08, 2014

Dick Rutan, Jeana Yeager and Burt Rutan

Inducted in 1987

Voyager, First To Circumnavigate The Globe Non-Stop Without Refueling, 1986

Burt Rutan, 1943 –

Dick Rutan, 1938 –

Jeana Yeager, 1952 –

The “Voyager” was the first airplane to circumnavigate the globe non-stop, without refueling. The journey began on December 14, 1986, at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and ended nine days later at the same place.

Designer Burt Rutan and pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager had devoted five years to building and flight-testing the airplane. Constructed of composite materials, Voyager’s total weight was 9,000 pounds, including 7,000 pounds of fuel. The canard wing design, or forward elevator, similar to that successfully used by the Wright brothers in 1903, provided additional lift and improved the plane’s efficiency and range.

The Voyager opened the door for a new generation of airplanes. Capable of flying over 28,000 miles without refueling, it’s performance far surpassed the range of other aircraft.

2 08, 2014

Walter R. Brookins

Inducted in 1986

The First Civilian Pilot, 1910

1888 – 1953

The Wright brothers realized that if the science of aviation were to develop, it would first be necessary to win public acceptance of flight throughout the United States. This required that a demonstration team be assembled to fly exhibitions. The first pilot hired for the team was Walter Richard Brookins, a Dayton native and long-time student and friend of the Wrights.

Brookins learned to fly in 1909 at the Wrights’ flight school near Montgomery, Alabama, on what is now a portion of Maxwell Air Force Base. He made his first solo flight after only two and one-half hours of instructional flying. This qualified Brookins to be appointed the Wrights’ first instructor to train pilots for the new Wright Exhibition Team.

Brookins soon became one of the most legendary exhibition flyers in America, setting world records for altitude, cross-country flight and endurance. In 1910 in […]

2 08, 2014

Captain Bruce McCandless II

Inducted in 1985

First Man To Walk In Space Untethered, 1984

1937 – 2017

Challenger’s February 1984 flight was America’s tenth space shuttle mission and the first spacecraft of any nation to end its celestial travels at the site where it was launched. On February 7, 1984, five days into the mission, Captain Bruce McCandless, Mission Specialist, became the first human to walk in space without a safety line.

After waiting 18 years to make his first space flight, McCandless stepped free from Challenger into the blackness of space for a 90-minute space walk traveling as far as 320 feet from the orbiter. Using a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), McCandless opened a new frontier in practical space walking and revolutionized man’s ability to survive and work in space.

2 08, 2014

Commander Theodore G. Ellyson

Inducted in 1984

First United States Naval Aviator, 1911

1885 – 1928

Theodore “Spuds” Ellyson began training in 1910 at the Glen Curtiss flight training school in San Diego and was Curtiss’ first seaplane pupil. As the United States Navy’s first pilot, Lieutenant Ellyson accompanied Curtiss on test flights of the first practical seaplane on January 26, 1911.

Flying a Curtiss seaplane, Ellyson and Navy Lieutenant J. H. Towers made the longest over-water flight yet attempted in October 1911. They flew from Annapolis, Maryland, to within two miles of Fort Monroe, Virginia, traveling over the Chesapeake Bay nearly the entire flight.

Ellyson was at the controls for the first successful catapult launch of the Curtis A-1 “Flying Boat” from an anchored barge at the Washington Navy Yard in November 1912. This was an important early step toward flying airplanes from ships and led to the development of aircraft carriers.

Commander Ellyson was a leader in naval […]

2 08, 2014

Charles Edward Taylor

Inducted in 1983

The World’s First Airplane Mechanic

1869 – 1956

Charlie Taylor was a silent but essential participant in the Wright Brothers’ success story at Kitty Hawk. In six weeks he built the 12-horsepower engine that powered the first successful flying machine, the Wright Flyer.

Taylor was hired by the Wright’s as a machinist at the Wright Cycle Company in Dayton, Ohio. His only prior experience with a gasoline engine was an attempt to repair one in an automobile in 1901. “Never did get it to work,” he stated later.

Taylor’s pioneering career in aviation mechanics spanned more than sixty years. After the first successful flights in 1903, he performed all of the preliminary engine design work for the Wrights and later taught them to build aircraft engines. He travelled with Orville to Fort Meyer, Virginia in 1908 during test flights for the United States government and was with Wilbur at the 1909 Hudson-Fulton […]