Friday, June 24, 2011

National Aviation Hall of Fame Prepares to Fete Blue Angels and 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation

WWII ace, Admirals and astronauts a featured attraction in Dayton on July 15th as Navy’s flight demo team receives 2011 Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award

(June 22, 2011 – Dayton, OH)  The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) annually presents the Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award to a group or organization in recognition for its exceptional contributions to the advancement of flight.  This year – both the Centennial Anniversary of Naval Aviation and the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration squadron - the Blue Angels will receive this NAHF honor. 

The 2011 Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award recognizes the 65-year history of the Blue Angels serving as positive role models and goodwill ambassadors for the US Navy and Marine Corps.  It is estimated that over 463 million fans have witnessed the teams’ spectacularly choreographed aerial performances since the Navy formed the group in 1946. Their distinctively marked F/A-18 Hornets are an icon of modern Naval Aviation.

The Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award is among the featured presentations at the 2011 NAHF President’s Reception & Dinner on Friday, July 15th, hosted in NAHF Learning Center and the adjacent National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  The event is open to the public by advance reservation, and a capacity audience of over 500 will include former Hall of Fame enshrinees, industry and defense leaders, public officials, media, and aviation enthusiasts from around the nation.  Noted air show announcer, Rob Reider, who is an Honorary Blue Angel and trains the group’s narrator each season, will serve as emcee.

Rear Admiral Patrick McGrath, Deputy Commander, Naval Air Forces and Director, Centennial of Naval Aviation Task Force, will accept the award on behalf of the Blue Angels organization from the NAHF.    Admiral McGrath is a 1979 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1981.

Following the award presentation, a blue ribbon panel of veteran Naval Aviators and historians will discuss 100 years of U.S. Naval Aviation – past, present, and future - led by former ABC-TV personality, David Hartman.  Panelists include:

RADM Edward “Whitey” Feightner, USN (Ret) - WWII fighter ace who helped the Navy carrier fleet transition from piston to jet aircraft.

RADM George M. “Skip” Furlong, Jr., USN (Ret) - former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam combat veteran, commanded the first air wing equipped with F-14 Tomcats.

Mr. Hill Goodspeed - Historian at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Capt. Robert “Hoot’ Gibson, USN (Ret) - former Navy fighter pilot, five time NASA Shuttle mission veteran and air racing pilot.

Capt. Kenneth Wallace, USN (Ret) - former Navy fighter and attack pilot, Korean War and Vietnam combat veteran, and former Blue Angel demo pilot and flight leader.

RADM Patrick McGrath, USN – Naval Aviator and Deputy Commander, Naval Air Forces, and Director, Centennial of Naval Aviation Task Force.
“The Hall of Fame – in the Birthplace of Aviation - is thrilled to host one of the premier national events in celebration of our Navy’s 100th year of aviation, and salute the Blue Angels organization in the process,” said Ron Kaplan, NAHF Enshrinement Director.    “The roster of Navy and Marine Corps aviation pioneers we’ve enshrined over 50 years alone is a pantheon of American heroes.  We’re talking Navy legends such as Ely, Ingalls and Moffett of the early days; Mitscher, McCampbell and Foss of WWII; astronauts Shepard, Armstrong, Lovell and others.  We encourage the public to join us for this exceptional historic celebration of Naval Aviation.”

The following night, Saturday July 16th, the NAHF will formally induct its Enshrinee Class of 2011 at the 50th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony, at the Dayton Convention Center.  The four to be honored are the late Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe, USAF; Col. Charles E. McGee, USAF (Ret); Dr. S. Harry Robertson; and the late General Thomas D. White, USAF.  Presenters include (respectively) former enshrinee Neil Armstrong; former enshrinee Frank Borman; former Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Richard Cody (Ret); and Secretary of the USAF, Michael B. Donley.  The emcee will be Colonel Thomas N. Moe, USAF (Ret), a former fighter pilot and Vietnam POW currently serving as Director of Veterans Services for the State of Ohio.

Advance reservations are required for either event and may be placed by calling 937-256-0944 ext.10.   Deadline is July 1st.  Seats at the President’s Reception & Dinner on July 15th are $300 or $150 per person.  Seats at the 50th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony on July 16th are $150 per person.  A portion of each seat purchased is deductible as allowed by law. For more information visit the NAHF website at or call 937-256-0944 ext.10.

The NAHF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in Dayton in 1962 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1964. Its mission is to honor America’s outstanding air and space pioneers, which it does through a 17,000 square-foot public Learning Center featuring interactive exhibits, a youth education program, an international aviation film festival, its annual enshrinement ceremonies, and other public outreach programs.

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