Honor Flight receives National Aviation Hall of Fame’s 2012 Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award

Group has transported thousands of U.S. military veterans by air to visit memorial in Washington, D.C. with help of volunteer pilots and commercial carriers

(Dayton, Ohio – Dec. 17, 2012)  Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that transports America’s veterans, at no cost to them, to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials that honor their service and sacrifices.  Top priority is given to the most senior heroes – those who served in WWII.  The group estimates that an average of 900 WWII vets die every day, so their mission is urgent.

The concept of Honor Flight was the brainchild of Earl Morse, a retired Air Force captain and private pilot from Enon, Ohio.  In 2005, six small aircraft flew out of Springfield, Ohio, taking 12 WWII veterans to visit their memorial.  By the end of 2011, with a growing nationwide network of hubs and the support of commercial carriers, Honor Flight had transported over 81,000 WWII veterans to their Washington, D.C. memorials.

Tonight, Honor Flight Network founder Earl Morse, director Diane Gresse, and the participants in the eight-year-old organization were the ones being honored, receiving the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s prestigious Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award for 2012.  NAHF Board of Trustees Awards Committee Chair, Dr. Vince Russo, presented the award to Morse and Gresse who accepted on behalf of the Honor Flight Network’s nearly 120 hubs in 40 states.  The ceremony took place at a dinner hosted by Dayton-based Aviation Trail, Inc. (ATI) in celebration of the 109th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ historic first powered flight, December 17, 1903.

Among those in the audience were several original volunteer Honor Flight pilots and aircraft owners, and numerous veterans who had previously taken their Honor Flights.  Also in attendance was a representative of Arby’s, which provides each veteran a free lunch on their Honor Flight trip. In May 2008, Southwest Airlines became the official commercial carrier of Honor Flight, donating thousands of tickets annually to the cause.  Today, Honor Flight missions are flown almost exclusively using commercial or chartered jet aircraft. For more information visit www.honorflight.org.

The NAHF Milton Caniff “Spirit of Flight” Award was created in 1981 to annually acknowledge significant contributions to aviation made by a group or organization.  It is named in honor of noted artist and aviation enthusiast, the late Milton Caniff, a longtime NAHF supporter.  Among previous recipients of the “Spirit of Flight” Award have been the Doolittle Raiders, Apollo Crewmen, Tuskegee Airmen, and Women Airforce Service Pilots.

The dinner also featured the NAHF’s unveiling of the four names of individual air and space pioneers who will be inducted into the Hall next year.  They are the late Charles Alfred Anderson; Maj. Gen. Patrick Henry Brady, USA (Ret); Capt. Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, USN (Ret); and the late Dwane L. Wallace.  Their formal enshrinement will take place at a dinner and ceremony held in Dayton on Friday, October 4, 2013.

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, its annual enshrinement ceremony, other public outreach programs, and collaboration with like-minded organizations.

For more information visit the NAHF website at www.nationalaviation.org or call 937-256-0944 ext.10.

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Media Contact:

Ron Kaplan                                                                 TEL: (937) 256-0944 x16
NAHF Enshrinement Director                            CEL: (937) 212-8847
[email protected]