Where will you find the stories of astronauts, fighter pilots, airline executives, airport developers, flight instructors, mechanics, engineers, rocket scientists and more than 120 other people: men and women from every race, creed, color, occupation or avocation: people who flew with Wright or Curtiss at the very dawn of modern aeronautics and people who have seen the Earth from orbit or have engineered landings on the Moon or Mars? Virginia’s Aviation Hall of Fame contains all of these and more. This year, we are celebrating the 40th year of operation of the VAHF and it seems like the appropriate time to focus on it.
The Hall was established to honor native, adopted or foster sons and daughters of Virginia who have made significant contributions to aviation and aerospace. This esteemed group displays incredible diversity in the aeronautic and aerospace world. The most important criteria for induction to the VAHF is accomplishment in an industry that profoundly changed the world in less than 100 years. The inductees may have been born in the Commonwealth, lived here or made their mark here.
Location is critical in real estate but matters less than the real value of what these extraordinary people contributed. Those contributions may have been spectacular, like a Moon landing or Mars explorer or they may have been quiet and “behind the scenes”, like establishment of a long-lived business, training and employing thousands. In the VAHF we find the people who survived incredible hardships in war, POW imprisonment, financial depressions and seemingly impossible technical, scientific or geographical obstacles. Others simply lived their lives doing what they loved and thereby encouraged or enabled scores of others to join the aviation world.
All are remembered and revered by those who were awed by them, learned from them, were protected by them, or boosted to their own fame by our inductees.
VAHF now is housed in the new Shannon Air Museum at Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is an integral part of the Shannon Airport Campus, which is growing rapidly into a major aviation destination. While the VAHF inductees’ stories are briefly told on the VAHS website (virginiaaviationhistory.org), the SAM contains artifacts, logbooks, airplanes and much more about these remarkable people and the worlds they lived in. Come and see it!
This will be my final Log entry as VAHS Board Chairman. It has been an eventful three years, some good and some bad, but that’s life. We lost the Richmond museum but gained a new ally in Luke Curtas and a great group of people at Shannon Airport. The new Board, led by General Dave Young and including several new members, has already “hit the ground running” with new ideas and projects to continue and expand the missions long supported by all of you in the VAHS. With your continued support, the future looks bright.