FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ron Kaplan, Exec. Director
Friday, December 17, 2004 TEL: 937-256-0944 ext. 16
National Aviation Hall of Fame announces Class of 2005
Four air and space pioneers selected for July enshrinement
(Dayton, OH – 12/17/04) Tonight the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) will publicly reveal the names of the four air and space pioneers selected to be enshrined at its 44th Annual Enshrinement Ceremony that will take place in Dayton on Saturday, July 16, 2005.
The formal announcement will be made tonight at a dinner hosted by the Dayton-based organization Aviation Trail, Inc. at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, located adjacent to the National Aviation Hall of Fame. An audience of over 200 aviation enthusiasts is expected for the event being held in recognition of the 101st anniversary of the Wright Brothers first powered flight – December 17, 1903.
On July 16th of next year the four incoming men and women enshrinees will join the 182 legends of aviation currently honored by the NAHF, including the very first two, Orville and Wilbur Wright. Making the announcement will be NAHF President, Dr. Janet Bednarek, PhD.
The enshrinee Class of 2005 consists of WWII tactician and fighter ace, John R. Alison; record-setting aviatrix and aerobatic champion, Betty Skelton Frankman; pioneering military aviatrix, Nancy Harkness Love; and innovative engineer and aerospace industry leader, Benjamin
(Ben) R. Rich.
John R. Alison, was born in Florida in 1912. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1935, joined the Army Air Corps in 1936 and earned his wings in 1937. In 1941-42 he helped British and then Russian pilots transition into their U.S. ‘Lend-Lease’ program aircraft. Later, assigned to the China-based 23rd Fighter Group, he scored six aerial victories. In 1943 he and Phil Cochran were selected by General “Hap” Arnold to head the newly formed
1st Air Commando Force, where Alison was instrumental in the development of numerous innovative weapons and tactics, including rockets, gliders, and helicopters. Alison is considered by many to be “the Father of Air Force Special Operations.” He retired from service in 1971 as a Major General.
Betty Skelton Frankman was born in Florida in 1926. She soloed unofficially at age 12 and obtained her pilots license at 16. At age 19 she became a flight instructor and air show pilot, becoming the first woman to perform the ribbon cut, inverted, at 10-feet above the ground. Frankman won many aerobatic contests in her Pitts Special, “Little Stinker,” only the second one built and is now on display in the National Air & Space Museum. She competed in
numerous air races and held both altitude and land speed records. Frequently referred to as the “First Woman of Firsts” for her many aviation and automotive records, she was also the first woman to undergo NASA’s physical and psychological tests for space flight with the original seven astronauts.
Nancy Harkness Love was born in 1914 and died in 1976. In 1942 she organized the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) in the Air Transport Command Ferrying Division. Love became the first woman to fly high-performance combat aircraft such as P-51 and P-38 fighters and B-17 bombers, convincing skeptical leadership that women could ferry such aircraft and thus free up male pilots for critical combat theatre duties. Thereafter Love played a pivotal
role in the Army Air Force’s successful accomplishment of the ferrying component of its wartime mission, including the merging of the WAFS with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Even after the WASPs were disbanded, Love continued to serve with the Air Transport Command until 1945, performing operational duties at home and overseas.
Benjamin R. (Ben) Rich was born in Manila, Philippines Islands, in 1925 and died in 1995. Rich graduated from Berkeley with a mechanical engineering degree and received a masters in aeronautical engineering from UCLA in 1950. Finding employment with Lockheed, at the age of 25 he was summoned by Kelly Johnson to join the company’s Advanced Development Projects (ADP) division, better known as the Skunk Works. There he participated in cutting edge projects
such as the XF-104 Starfighter, U-2 spyplane, SR-71 Blackbird and numerous other technologically sophisticated programs. In 1975 he succeeded Johnson as the head of Skunk Works and later became vice president of Lockheed in 1977. During this time he focused on developing the revolutionary F-117 Stealth fighter. Rich retired as “Chief Skunk” in 1990.
Founded in 1962 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1964, the National Aviation Hall of Fame's mission is dedicated to honoring America's outstanding air and space pioneers. The annual enshrinement dinner and ceremony is often referred to as "the Oscar Night of Aviation," drawing an audience of hundreds of aerospace, defense, government and industry leaders, celebrity pilots, as well as
NAHF members and previous enshrinees.
Advance reservations to the NAHF 44th Annual Enshrinement Ceremony can be placed by calling (937) 256-0944 ext. 10. Seats are $125 per person. The NAHF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, thus a portion of each seat purchased is deductible as allowed by law.
For more information visit the NAHF website at www.nationalaviation.org or call (937) 256-0944 ext 16.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame’s 13,000 square-foot Learning Center opened to the public in January of 2003, featuring six galleries that trace the exciting history of flight through the people that made it happen. A variety of interactive displays highlight many of the achievements of the 182 enshrinees honored to date. The site is also home to the Harry B. Combs Research Center, dedicated to preserving tens of thousands of images and documents tracing the enshrinees’ life stories. Located adjacent to
the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, admission to the NAHF is free. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the NAHF is supported primarily through memberships and the contributions of individuals and corporations.
EDITORS NOTE: Photos of the four inductees are available electronically at www.nationalaviation.org or upon request. Please specify file format and dpi. Requests for interviews may also be directed to: