Researcher Peggy Loeffler to Receive the 2018 Combs Gates Award

 Amy Spowart
 (937) 256-0944 ext. 11                                                                
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October 4, 2018
For immediate release


Researcher Peggy Loeffler to Receive the 2018 Combs Gates Award

The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) proudly reports that Peggy Loeffler’s “New England Women Take Flight” exhibit has earned its creator the 16th Annual Combs Gates Award.

The NAHF will award the $20,000 cash prize to Loeffler on October 16, 2018, at the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) 71th annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.  NAHF Trustees making the presentation will be joined by National Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinees Colonel Joe Kittinger, USAF (Ret), Mr. Clay Lacy, Mr. Dale Klapmeier, Mr. Russ Meyer, and Mr. Sean D. Tucker.

New England Women Take Flight is a research project that was created to establish a database of notable New England women who have made significant contributions in aviation as pioneers, pilots, astronauts, and engineers.  The database will support a permanent exhibit at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  This database and exhibit will truly be the only comprehensive collection of its kind.

Peggy Loeffler grew up the daughter of a WWII Army Air Corps B-29 Pilot, flying with her father in a small plane throughout her childhood.  With a scholarship from the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots (99s), Peggy obtained her private pilot’s license and subsequently added commercial and instrument ratings.  In 2005, she began instructing new pilots at the Great Barrington Airport in western Massachusetts.  In addition to her instructor duties, Peggy has served as the Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter 99s, Governor of the New England Section 99s, founded and ran long running aviation workshops at the New England Air Museum, and coordinates aviation classes at a Massachusetts high school.

The Combs Award, the original title, grew out of a donation to the NAHF by the late Harry Combs, a 1996 Enshrinee of the NAHF. As part of a $1.3 million gift to help fund 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 review each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, potential for long-term impact, and value to the NAHF’s 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 business aviation event in the world. The inaugural award was presented at the Opening General Session of the NBAA’s 2003 convention, which was held in conjunction with 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.

John Gates and his sister, Diane G. Wallach, are co-trustees of the Gates Frontiers Fund, a foundation created by their late parents, Charles C. and June S. Gates. Mr. Gates, who passed away in 2005 at age 84, was former Chairman and CEO of the Gates Corporation, an avid multi-engine and helicopter pilot, and partner with Combs in several aviation businesses, including the Combs Gates FBO chain and Gates Learjet. This year marks the 16th year for the award and its 13th year with the name changed to reflect a multi-year commitment by the Gates Frontiers Fund to endow the award.

The award pays homage to Gates’ belief in the benefit of historic preservation to educate and inspire, and to Combs’ own research efforts behind his acclaimed 1979 book, “Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secrets of the Wright Brothers.”