Author Archives: Sue Baker

Former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles dies at 79

By ALAN SUDERMAN The Associated Press Oct 29, 2019

Gerald Baliles
Photo Credit: 2014, The Daily Progress

Former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles, a Democrat known as the “transportation governor” and for his work to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and increase foreign trade, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement saying Baliles died Tuesday morning, surrounded by his family. He had been battling cancer.

“Governor Baliles fought for rural Virginians, promoted civil discourse, and was the epitome of a true public servant,” Northam said, adding that the state flags will fly at half-staff for the next 30 days in Baliles’ honor.

“It’s easy to say that democracy works better when practiced with civility, honest debate, and good-faith compromise. Jerry Baliles lived it,” former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in a statement Tuesday.

Baliles, who served from 1986 to 1990, pushed through a 10-year, $10 billion transportation initiative during the first year of his administration that required increases in the gas and sales taxes.

“He had the courage to take the political hit for raising taxes for improvements that future governors would cut the ribbons on,” Del. Vivian E. Watts, D-Arlington said during a 2002 retrospective examining Baliles’ administration. Watts was secretary of public safety and transportation under Baliles.

Baliles continued pushing for better transportation long after he left the Executive Mansion, calling for Virginia to install tolls on interstates to raise money for transportation projects.

He once accused his successors of squandering the progress made during his administration.

“The 1990s could well go down as Virginia’s Decade of Delusion,” he told the nonprofit Intelligent Society of Virginia. “We have convinced ourselves that somehow, someway, our commonwealth will take care of itself and that we can avoid the consequences of economic expansion.”

Baliles also committed Virginia to an ambitious cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay while in office and later continued his conservation efforts. His book “Preserving the Chesapeake Bay” was a call to arms to keep the bay cleanup going.

“I hope it serves as a reminder to all readers that the bay is a resource that cannot be turned on and off like a faucet” but needs continual care, Baliles said. “It is a natural treasure that should be preserved.”

Under Baliles’ leadership, teacher salaries increased to within $400 of the national average. He also introduced the first statewide standardized testing, which was later supplanted by the Standards of Learning. To stress the importance of thinking globally, Baliles had oversized maps of the world installed in every seventh-grade classroom in Virginia.

He also fought to expand the state prison system and appointed the first woman to the Virginia Supreme Court.

But many remember Baliles as the politician with the unusually retentive memory that allowed him to walk into a crowded room and recall the names of everyone to whom he was introduced.

After leaving office, he emerged as one of the nation’s leading authorities on aviation, serving as chairman of a national commission appointed by President Clinton in 1993 to find ways to keep airlines profitable.

While in office, Baliles worked to get Virginia’s two largest airports, Washington National and Washington Dulles International, away from federal control and into the hands of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

He grew up on a farm in rural western Virginia. Baliles’ parents broke up when he was young and he and his brother, Larry, lived with their grandparents while his younger brother, Stuart, stayed nearby with an aunt and uncle.

Baliles became an avid reader and student of history.

“For me, books and airplanes were windows on the world,” he once said.

At 15, Baliles went to Fishburne Military Academy, where he graduated second in his class. He met his first wife, Jeannie McPherson, while at Wesleyan College in Connecticut. They had two children, Laura and Jonathan.

They divorced in 1996 and Baliles married Robin Deal in 2003.

His cautious, deliberate style fueled his climb from state legislator to attorney general to governor without ever losing an election. Or it could have been his slogan: “Baliles. The name rhymes with smiles.”

“I’m not flamboyant,” he said after winning the governor’s seat. “But I don’t know many people who have been brash who have gotten far in politics.”

In 1989, during Baliles’ tenure, a violent coal strike in southwest Virginia had tensions so high he was advised to stay out of the area. Then the economy collapsed his last year in office, and he left his successor a $2 billion budget deficit.

He remained active in politics long after leaving the Capitol. After retiring as a partner at the Richmond law firm of Hunton & Williams, he returned to the University of Virginia in 2006, to direct the Miller Center of Public Affairs.


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Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society to induct three into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame

October 16, 2019
Contact: Sue Y. Baker
Administrator, Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society

O 540.376.3265
C 540.903.8891

Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society to induct three into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame at 41st annual induction banquet October 19

Distinguished Virginians Col. Floyd Callihan, Capt. John Corradi and Steve Hoffman have made invaluable contributions to Virginia aviation, the industry and its history

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society today announced the 2019 class of inductees to the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. They are Col. Floyd Callihan (CAP, Ret.); retired United Airlines pilot and founder-owner-operator of Pleasantdale Field, Capt. John Corradi; and Steve Hoffman, the retired founder-owner-operator of Barnstormers Airshows and hot air balloon manufacturer Eagle Balloons. The annual induction dinner will be held Saturday, October 19 at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel & Conference Center.

With over 65 years in the aviation industry, Callihan was one of the foundational leaders of the Virginia Civil Air Patrol, personally leading the planning, construction and full-time operation of the CAP Virginia Wing headquarters building and hangar complex at the Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County Airport. As an aviation history enthusiast, he has collected and also contributed numerous artifacts to VAHS and the former Virginia Aviation Museum, the collection of which now is at the Shannon Air Museum in Fredericksurg. He lives in Goochland County.

Corradi relocated to Rixeyville in 1975 when United Airlines moved his base to Dulles International Airport. Two years later, he began operating his own airfield, Pleasantdale Field, on his farm’s property. Since then, Pleasantdale has welcomed many aviators, including ultralight pilots. In 1999, Corradi began participating at the famous Flying Circus Aerodrome & Airshow at Bealton, where he still volunteers and sits on its board of directors. He also was instrumental in organizing and planning the first Culpeper Air Fest. His generosity is well known, even giving people rides for expressing an interest in aviation. A historian, he also served as a docent at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles and has published numerous articles about vintage aircraft.

Hoffmann has a storied aviation industry career in Virginia, beginning with designing the décor of the Holiday Inn Aerodrome Restaurant at Richmond International Airport, to his participation in The Flying Circus in Bealeton, to founding, owning and operating Barnstormers Airshows, which brought world class talent to perform nightly at Kings Dominion. That unique show attracted thousands of aviation enthusiasts, as well as inspiring thousands more general interest spectators who became aviation fans. Later, he founded Eagle Balloons, which manufactured Type Certificated hot air balloons at Hanover County Municipal Airport. He has retired to Lake Worth, Fla.

The Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Banquet is on Saturday, October 19 at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel & Conference Center, 2801 Plank Road. A reception begins at 5:30. Dinner starts 6:30. Tickets can be purchased by calling 540.376.3265 or by e-mailing

The Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame was founded and is maintained by the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society, both founded in 1978. The VAHS and hall of fame are headquartered at Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg. Among the many distinguished members of the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame are Hampton native and Virginia Tech alumnus Dr. Christopher Kraft, the architect of NASA’s Mission Control operations and its Manned Space Flight Center, which guided America’s first astronauts and the moon landing missions of the 1960s; and “Hidden Figure” Katherine Johnson, also of Hampton, who was responsible for many of the orbital and space flight trajectory computations for NASA’s first manned spaceflights before the use of computers, as well as playing key roles in the Apollo 11 and 13 missions.

The VAHS is dedicated to the preservation of Virginia’s aerospace history and significant contributions to America’s aerospace preeminence, from North America’s first hot air balloon launch to rocket launches from Wallop’s Island. It founded the Virginia Aviation Museum in 1986 before donating it to the Commonwealth of Virginia, then saved its collection in the face of the VAM’s closing by the Science Museum of Virginia in June 2016.

2019 Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees & Banquet

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society Board of Directors cordially invites you to attend the 41st reception and dinner marking the Induction of Colonel Floyd Callihan, Captain John Corradi and Steve Hoffmann into The Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel & Conference Center
2801 Plank Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Reception: 5:30 p.m. Dinner: 6:30 p.m.


Veteran to be inducted into Va. Aviation Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch

Veteran to be inducted into Va. Aviation Hall of Fame
Richmond Times Dispatch
Oct. 6, 2019
By Rosyln Ryan/ Editor

Of all the things he has accomplished over the past 93 years — and the list is long indeed — Goochland resident Floyd Callihan says the one of which he is most proud is having led the charge in 2004 to have Virginia’s Route 288 designated as the World War II Veterans’ Memorial Highway.

Callihan, a Navy veteran whose own WWII service included serving aboard the USS Block Island from 1944-1946, will himself be honored on Oct. 19, when he is inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.

The honor will serve as the capstone to a career that has earned Callihan myriad awards and accolades for public service, as well as the respect and admiration of his peers.

“He is one of the most honorable people I know,” said John Myers, a fellow Navy veteran who came to know Callihan through his affiliation with Goochland’s American Legion Post 215, the current home of which Callihan lead the drive to build, debt free. “He has dedicated his life to the American Legion, and he supports us in all of our efforts.”

Callihan’s reputation for generosity and humility is well-known, Myers said, and not just among fellow Legion Post members.

Simply put, Myers said, “I have never in all my life heard anyone say a bad word about Floyd Callihan.”

While nine decades may seem like quite a few years —Callihan turned 93 on Monday, Sept. 30 — the Goochland resident seems to have packed in enough living for twice that many.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1927, Callihan was already showing an industrious streak by the time he was in high school, spending much of the time he wasn’t studying working in a local pie shop. With the United States embroiled in war in the Pacific and in Europe, he left school in 1944 before he finished his senior year to join the US Navy (he would eventually be awarded his diploma).

Assigned to the carrier USS Block Island, Callihan spent his days helping to protect the Atlantic shipping lanes from the threat of German submarines, which had been sinking large numbers of American military transports.

It was during this time, Callihan remembers, that he first fell in love with the idea of flying as he watched the pilots take off and land on the carrier’s deck.

Callihan began taking flying lessons in 1953, the same year he joined the United States Air Force Auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), as a warrant officer in the Northfield Senior Squadron. He quickly earned his private pilot’s license, and would eventually earn his multi-engine and commercial licenses as well.

After years of dedication and perseverance—during which he was credited with 16 “finds” and 6 “saves” as a search and rescue pilot—Callihan achieved the rank on full Colonel and was appointed Commanding Officer of the CAP’s 1,500 member Virginia Wing. Serving from 1980-1983, he oversaw a program that would be rated first in the nation in operational readiness, a distinction for which Callihan was honored by the United States Congress in 1981.

Throughout his career, Callihan earned high praise for his willingness to roll up his sleeves and get things done, from producing a comprehensive safety manual for the Virginia Wing (still in use today), to negotiating a 100-year, $100 dollar lease with Chesterfield County for a new Wing headquarters at Chesterfield County Airport.

Though he isn’t likely to share them himself, Callihan’s accolades have been many: In 1999 alone, he was named Virginia Wing Senior Member of the Year; Virginia Wing Safety Officer of the Year and the Middle East Region Safety Officer of the Year.

Away from the airfield, Callihan and his wife Shirley, whom he married in 1947, raised their three children, Susan, Douglass and Glenn.

Following in their father’s footsteps, both of Callihan’s sons pursued carriers in the armed forces: Douglas is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who flew combat missions out of Italy during the Kosovo engagement, and Glenn, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, received the Bronze Star for his service in Kuwait during the First Iraq War.

As for his decades of service to aviation, there is little doubt as to Callihan’s legacy.

As Callihan’s time with the Civil Air Patrol was drawing to a close, Major General Antonio Pineda wrote to him as follows: “You are to be commended for your many years of devoted service to your community, state and nation. You have made a lasting impact on Civil Air Patrol in your years of service, and your contributions have been of enduing value. Your personal commitment and support of our mission for America — aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services are the fiber that made Civil Air Patrol great and will keep it as such.”

Throttle Up: A letter from the President

I sincerely hope everyone has enjoyed a pleasant, flight-filled summer. A heart-felt thank you to all of our new members, as well as our faithful renewing members.

Over the past few months, it has been my pleasure to be able to visit all of our chapters and many members I only knew by name. July took me to Topping, Virginia to do a presentation on the early history of Virginia aviation for the Northern Neck/Middle Peninsula Chapter at The Pilot House Inn in Topping, Virginia. It was a great visit and my thanks go out to Nancy Miller and George Galo for their hospitality. Also in July, I attended a presentation at the Fredericksburg Chapter conducted by Warrenton Chapter member Phil Hornung on the highlights of early aviation in the Widewater area of Stafford County. Thanks to Luke Curtas for the use of Shannon Air Museum.

August found me at the Richmond Executive Airport (FCI) for the second meeting of the newly forming Richmond Chapter. Our presenter was our own chairman, Dave Young discussing his experiences as a B-52 pilot in Vietnam. Appreciation is due Joe Hoyle of the Wingnuts Flying Club for assisting us in organizing this well-attended event. Due to the generosity of Luke Curtas of Shannon Airport (EZF) I attended the Virginia Aviation Conference in Roanoke, representing both the VAHS and Shannon Air Museum. We had lots of visitors and enjoyed networking with all of the great vendors. Member Larry Waltrip of Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (KJGG) visited our booth, as did member Alvin Lynn. Alvin ended up winning a great vendor door prize while there.

A visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for a little research in the Pioneers of Exhibit kicked off September. Lots of new construction will bring new exhibits and more space later in 2019. I am most grateful to Williamsburg Chapter members Terry Riley and David Eberly for inviting me to speak at the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning at William and Mary on September 11 and September 18. There is no better audience than aviation enthusiasts!

The balance of September will see the headquarters’ team busy conducting meetings and preparing for the 41st Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet to be held on October 19 in Fredericksburg. If you haven’t made your reservations, please do so before October 7th. We need your support to continue our important preservation efforts!

Safe travels! See you at the Hall of Fame Dinner!


Ray Gill

President, Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society

Come visit us at: The Pilot House, 3381 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Mailing address: VAHS, Shannon Airport KEZF Campus, PO Box 7795, Fredericksburg, VA 22404-7795
Phone number: 540-376-3265 / Email: