Author's focus on female flyers garners Seventh Annual Combs Gates Award
Sarah Bryn Rickman to receive $20,000 at NBAA convention for her trilogy "Women Pilots of the Ferry Command"
(Orlando, FL – October 19, 2009) The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) announced the recipient of its Seventh Annual Combs Gates Award will be author and historian Sarah Bryn Rickman and her trilogy based on the Women Pilots of the Ferry Command. Mrs. Rickman will receive the $20,000 cash award in recognition of her thorough research on women pilots during World War II. The award will be formally presented Monday, October 19, at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Annual Meeting & Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Presenting the award tomorrow on behalf of the NAHF will be Amanda Wright-Lane, Great Grand-Niece of Orville and Wilbur Wright, along with four enshrinees of the NAHF: former astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, Eugene Cernan; WWII fighter pilot, test pilot and air show legend, Bob Hoover; record-setting aviator, former fighter pilot and Vietnam POW, Joe Kittinger; and Chairman Emeritus of Cessna Aircraft, Russell Meyer, Jr.
Sarah Rickman's trilogy explores the stories of the women pilots flying for the Army Air Corps during World War II. As of late, there have been several stories written about the WASP's, but none like Rickman's trilogy. With exceptional research and first hand interviews, Rickman brings out the real story of women pilots who flew more than nine million miles in 72 different warplane models. They completed 12,650 domestic movements of airplanes and flew 115,000 pilot hours in the 27 months they were in operation, October 1942 to December 1944.
The first book of the series is Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II. This biography focuses on Nancy Love as the first visionary, founder and leader of the first squadron of women ferry pilots and later Executive for all WASP pilots flying in the Ferrying Division. The second book, The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II is the history of the 28 professional women pilots comprised Nancy Love's original ferrying squadron – the first women in the U.S. to fly for the Army. Rickman's third book, tentatively titled Wasp in the Ferry Command, will focus on the women who flew for the Ferrying Division in 1943-1944, graduating from Jackie Cochran's' Sweetwater training facility.
The prestigious Combs Award grew out of a donation to the NAHF by the late Harry Combs, a 1996 enshrinee of the Hall of Fame. As part of his generous $1.3 million gift for the creation of a NAHF research center, Combs stipulated that the Combs Award be established to encourage and support relevant aviation history research and preservation efforts. A panel of expert judges reviews each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, potential for long-term impact, and value to the Hall of Fame mission of honoring America's outstanding air and space pioneers.
Combs was instrumental to the growth and development of business aviation. Consequently the NAHF partnered with the NBAA to host the award presentation at its annual meeting and convention, the largest purely civil aviation event in the world. The inaugural award was presented at the Opening General Session of the NBAA Meeting & Convention in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.
John Gates, along with his sister, Diane G. Wallach, are co-trustees of the Gates Frontiers Fund, created by their late parents and philanthropists, Charles C. and June S. Gates. The late Mr. Gates, who passed away in 2005 at age 84, was a partner with Combs in several aviation businesses including the Combs Gates FBO chain and Gates Learjet. This year marks the seventh year for the award and the fourth year with the name changed to reflect a multi-year commitment by the Gates Frontiers Fund to fund the award.
The award pays homage to Gates belief in the benefit of historic preservation and study, and to Combs' own research efforts behind his acclaimed 1979 book, Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secrets of the Wright Brothers. Combs was inspired to write the book after close friend and fellow enshrinee, Neil Armstrong, presented him a bound collection of the Wright Brothers' personal papers.
Combs died in December 2003 at age 90. During the inaugural award ceremony at the NBAA convention held a month before his passing, Combs remarked, "Just as Neil's gift inspired me to discover the secrets of the Wrights, I want to motivate a new generation of historians, researchers and preservationists to continue the process of clarifying and preserving our nation's amazing air and space history for generations to come."
To find out more about the NAHF or to secure an application for next year's Combs Gates Award, please contact the NAHF Harry B. Combs Research Department at (937) 256-0944, Ext. 18, or visit www.nationalaviation.org.
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Ron Kaplan NAHF Executive Director TEL: (937) 256-0944 ext. 16 CEL: (937) 212-8847 (at NBAA in Orlando, FL)