Medal of Honor Winner, Helicopter Rescue Pilot Inducted into Aviation Hall of Fame

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE – A Medal of Honor-winning helicopter pilot, a “Top Gun” space shuttle astronaut, a former Cessna chairman, and a pioneer who trained African American aviators will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame next year.

The Hall of Fame, headquartered in Dayton, announced the winners Monday on the 109th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s historic first powered flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

More than 120 selected members of the Hall of Fame chose the four out of a field of about 200 contenders, said Ron Kaplan, Hall of Fame enshrinement director. “It’s a multi-step process, much like an election,” he said.

The annual enshrinement black-tie dinner and ceremony set for Oct. 4, 2013, will be at the National Aviation Hall of Fame Learning Center inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Here are the winners:

 The late Charles Alfred Anderson, recognized as “the father of African-American aviation,” who created a civilian-pilot training program for black aviators, according to the Hall of Fame. Anderson, whose nickname was Chief, flew an historic flight in 1941 with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt aboard. “A flight with the first lady certainly paved the way for what we now know as the Tuskegee Airmen,” Kaplan said. The group of African-American fighter pilots in the Army Air Corps served in the European theater in World War II.

 Retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady, a Medal of Honor winner and helicopter rescue pilot, who flew over 2,500 missions and rescued over 5,000 wounded from the battlefields of the Vietnam war. He refined tactical and foul weather flying for air ambulance helicopters in combat. The highly decorated pilot, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, spent 34 years in the military.

 Retired Navy Capt. Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, a five-time space shuttle astronaut. The former fighter pilot graduated from the Navy’s Top Gun fighter weapons training course, flew in combat in Vietnam and was a test pilot before joining NASA in 1978. The air racer and aeronautical engineer has flown more than 14,000 hours in 130 different aircraft. “It’s no wonder he has 14,000 hours flying everything,” Kaplan said. Gibson was a presenter at the Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony in Dayton this year.

 The late Dwane L. Wallace, former chairman and chief executive officer of the Cessna Aircraft Co. Wallace was instrumental in the aircraft manufacturer’s survival during the Great Depression. He used money won in air races to meet the company’s payroll. After World War II wartime production, he developed corporate and general aviation products. He’s one of the founders and a past chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

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