NAHF “Class of 2011” inductees’ achievements span and make history

Four to be honored with enshrinement July 16 include Dr. S. Harry Robertson, Arizona native known as “Father of the Crashworthy Fuel System”

(Dayton, Ohio – May 3, 2011) Since it was founded in 1962, the National Aviation Hall of Fame has ensured that America’s outstanding pioneers of air and space have been honored for their contributions and their legacies used to spur future generations to individual excellence, service and citizenship.

Founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1962 and chartered by Congress in 1964, the NAHF currently recognizes with enshrinement the achievements of 207 men and women within the walls of its over 17,000 square foot interactive learning center. Among these pioneers are names like the Wrights, Lindbergh, Earhart, Glenn and Armstrong. These colorful, daring, resourceful and innovative honorees come from all walks of life and from all sectors of air and space, including science, medicine, military and more.

Each year a voting body comprised of over a hundred and twenty air and space professionals nationwide selects the handful of individuals to be recognized for their aviation achievements through enshrinement into the NAHF. The formal honors take place in Dayton on the third weekend of July at an annual enshrinement ceremony long acclaimed as the “Oscar Night of Aviation,” a black-tie gala attracting a who’s who from the private, commercial, government and military sectors of aviation.

This July 16th, the NAHF will celebrate the induction of four more individuals, the Enshrinee Class of 2011, at its 50th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony at the Dayton Convention Center. A crowd of nearly a thousand are expected. The four to be enshrined and their presenters are:

The late Capt. Iven Kincheloe, USAF

    – Korean War jet ace and record-setting test pilot hailed as “The First Man in Space.” Presenting will be 1979 Enshrinee and former astronaut, Neil Armstrong. Accepting will be Capt. Kincheloe’s widow, Mrs. Dorothy Kincheloe.

Col. Charles E. McGee, USAF (Ret)

    – WWII Tuskegee Airman and veteran of 409 fighter combat missions flown throughout three wars. Presenting will be 1982 Enshrinee and former astronaut, Frank Borman. Accepting will be Col. McGee.

Dr. S. Harry Robertson

    – Engineer and inventor of crashworthy aircraft fuel systems, and a pioneer of crash investigation and aerospace safety education. Presenting will be former Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Richard Cody (Ret.). Accepting will be Mr. Robertson.

he late General Thomas D. White, USAF

    – Former USAF Chief of Staff and architect of integrating space technology into our modern air defense structure. The word “aerospace” was coined under his watch. Presenter (invited): Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley. Accepting will be Rebecca White McCoy, daughter of Gen. White.

“This diverse group of enshrinees is typical,” explained Ron Kaplan, Enshrinement Director, “typical in that their contributions cover decades, span the globe and significantly benefit us to this day, earning them the highest honor in aviation.”

Citing one example, Kaplan pointed out that Dr. S. Harry Robertson’s crashworthy fuel systems, known to helicopter pilots as “Robbie Tanks,” are used on virtually every U.S. combat helicopter today. His systems can also be found on military ground vehicles, many police cars, and even on high-performance race cars such as those that will captivate thousands of fans at the Indy 500 later this month.

“His career was driven by his mantra of ‘There is no reason for someone to survive a crash – and then die in a fire,’” Kaplan said. “Though Dr. Robertson was in fact an Air Force pilot at the height of the Cold War, it’s his crash research and engineering skills used to develop safer fuel systems that clearly factored in to his selection for enshrinement,” said Kaplan.

During the Vietnam War, it was discovered that many military helicopter crew fatalities were due to post-impact fires. Soon after the Robertson designs were put into service in 1970, such fatalities were reduced by 99.9 percent. It wasn’t long before the Air Force, Navy and Marines followed suit and installed the new technology. Dr. Harry Robertson, a native of Phoenix, may not be a household name, but he has long been revered by American soldiers and combat airmen like those currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, where their helicopters are flown in harm’s way every day.

The NAHF’s 50th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony on Saturday, July 16, 2011 is open to the public by advance reservation only. Deadline is July 2, 2011. Reservations may be placed by calling 937-256-0944 ext.10. Seats are $150 per person and a portion of each seat purchased is deductible as allowed by law. Seats to the 2011 President’s Reception and Dinner on Friday, July 15, are similarly available. For more information visit the NAHF website at or call 937-256-0944 ext.10.