The 43rd National Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinement

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Celebration Activities

The Annual Enshrinement of Aviation Heroes was held in Dayton on July 17, 2004. Since its establishment in 1962, 178 people have been honored, starting with Orville and Wilbur Wright.

This year’s the honorees were William A. Anders, Harriet Quimby, Jack Ridley and Patty Wagstaff.

Anders gained worldwide fame in 1968 as an astronaut on Apollo 8 when he took a picture of earth as seen from the moon’s orbit. The picture was not part of the prescribed flight plan but it was too beautiful to miss. The famous picture, known as “Earthrise”, became one of the most influential images of the 20h century.

Quimby was the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license. She became a favorite on the exhibition circuit and the first women to successfully fly across the English Channel on April 16, 1912. She was killed in an airplane accident in July 1, 1912. At a time when women were universally thought to be less capable than men, (the Wright Flying school wouldn’t accept her as a student) she proved that women could successfully fly.

Ridley was the flight test engineer for the rocket-powered Bell X-1 program in which Chuck Yeager was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Yeager credits the success of the program to Ridley’s ingenuity and engineering skills. Yeager was having trouble flying faster that 0.94 Mach because he would loose pitch control. Ridley figured out how to manipulate the horizontal stabilizer so that Yeager could use it to have pitch control. It worked great and Yeager flew Mach 1.06 on October 14, 1947.

Wagstaff is an aerobatic champion. I saw her magnificent performance at the Wright Centennial at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Nags Head. She won her first U.S. Championship in 1991, becoming the first woman to do so. She repeated the feat the next two years in a row. She has thrilled air show spectators worldwide.

The Aviation Hall of Fame was established as a non-profit Ohio Corporation on October 5, 1962. Congress chartered it in 1964.

The presenters on the program were Frank Borrman, former astronaut and a 1982 enshrinee; Emily Howell Warner, first female of a jet-equipped, scheduled U.S. airline; Chuck Yeager, W.W.II ace, former test pilot and 1973 enshrinee; and co-presenters John and Martha King, founders of a pilot training resources supplier.

The Master of Ceremonies was Dennis Quaid, actor and pilot, and the narrator was Cliff Robertson, Academy and Emmy Award winning actor, writer and director.

Amanda Wright represented the Wright family and she told the audience that she was glad that two of the honorees proved that women could fly as well as men.

Previous post:

Next post: