First Flight Society Announces 2020 Class of Honorary Members
The First Flight Society announces 5 new Honorary Members: Colonel Gail Halvorsen, Brigadier General Charles McGee, Lieutenant Colonel Richard “Dick” Rutan, Sean D. Tucker, and Patty Wagstaff.
Colonel Halvorsen, General McGee and Colonel Dick Rutan have all been previously inducted into the
Paul E Garber Shrine. Halvorsen was nicknamed “the Candy Bomber” for air dropping candy to German
children during the Berlin Airlift. McGee was one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who flew fighter
escort for Allied bombers. Rutan is a fighter pilot, test pilot, and record-breaking aviator who in
1986 piloted the Voyager aircraft on the first non-stop around-the-world flight with co-pilot Jeana
Yeager. Halvorsen turned 100 in October and McGee celebrated 101 on December 7th.
Sean Tucker and Patty Wagstaff are celebrated Aerobatic pilots, who still perform. Tucker has won
numerous air show championship competitions throughout his career and was inducted into the
National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008. Wagstaff is a US National Aerobatic Champion and a 2006
member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
The Honorary Member program launches this year to enhance the public visibility of pilots like
these who have achieved national recognition in aviation. First Flight Society will recognize them
in Society Media during their lifetime. In turn, FFS offers them the chance to attend the December
17th Luncheon in Kitty Hawk, NC and be honored along with that year’s Honoree. With the
cancellation of this year’s luncheon the Society hopes to renew that offer sometime in 2021.
This year’s honoree is Frank Caldwell, a leading American aeronautical engineer, and former U.S.
Government’s chief propeller engineer (1917-1928). Caldwell’s many contributions to aviation in
propeller technology are highlighted by his winning with Hamilton Standard the 1933 Collier Trophy
for design of the controllable-pitch propeller. His design innovations led to the Hydromatic
constant-speed propeller used by virtually every frontline U.S. aircraft in World War II, and his
pioneering whirl test procedures were indispensable to the development of all modern
high-performance propellers during the 20th Century.
The FFS plans an annual celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17th
mandated by their bylaws to memorialize the work of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC. This
year the Celebration will be virtual, streaming online on the 17th.