Since 1963, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame has honored the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space explorers. This year, we are proud to honor Army Aviation, Will Cutter and Cutter Aviation, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Michael Herman, Brian Keating, Capt. Dan Pedersen and Textron Aviation.
Early Army Aviation can trace its beginning back to balloon and heavier-than-air flight, which quickly proved its value as an essential arm to on-the-ground combat fighting by adding a third dimension to viewing land combat. From the very first observation balloons during the Civil War to the Army’s purchase of their first Wright brothers aircraft in 1907 to today’s modern force, Army Aviation has led the way in the skies above America’s battlefields wherever needed for over 115 years. A proven battlefield force multiplier in support of ground forces, Army Aviation has performed with distinction in every American conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries. Whether fighting in the strange new dimension of aerial warfare in WWI, conducting a strategic bombing campaign in WWII Europe, flying the “Hump” in Southeast Asia, or moving troops into the jungles of Vietnam, U.S. Army Aviation has evolved through organizational and force structure improvements to meet the nation’s needs wherever and whenever necessary. The mission of Army Aviation is to find, fix, and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver, as an integral member of the combined arms team. On the modern battlefield, it is capable of the full spectrum of combined arms team operations and that of “Joint” operations with other services. The Army aviation motto is “Above the Best,” and to be that, Army aviation will continue to grow in the quality of its people and the technical sophistication of its equipment.
Cutter Aviation is the oldest continuously family-owned and operated FBO (fixed base operator) in the United States, and over the years, has maintained a position of leadership in the general aviation community by consistently expanding its services and its locations. Founded in 1928 by William P. Cutter in Albuquerque, New Mexico as the Cutter Flying Service, it served the fledgling aviation community in the Southwestern United States and survived the Great Depression and World War II by providing air charter services to difficult-to-reach ranches, towns and businesses scattered across the rugged landscape of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Cutter’s sons, William R. (Bill), born in 1932, and Sidney born two years later, both began flying at early ages, and each returned to the family business after serving in the U.S. military. Bill established a second FBO at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport in 1959, while Sid served as company president since his father’s death in 1963, until 1974 when he turned the reins over to Bill. Since that time, Bill expanded maintenance, aircraft sales, and air charter services at Phoenix and across the Southwest, adding facilities in El Paso, Texas, in 1982; Deer Valley (Phoenix) in 1997; San Antonio in 1998; and Santa Monica, California, in 2000. The company also opened an FBO at Sky Harbor in 1988. In September 2002, Bill’s son, William Cutter, became president and further expanded operations into Colorado and Texas.
Today, Cutter Aviation is a full-service aviation company, offering aircraft fueling, maintenance and avionics solutions, aircraft charter and aircraft sales and management. Serving the business aviation industry, Cutter has operations at eight major airports in Arizona (Phoenix, Deer Valley and Phoenix, Sky Harbor), New Mexico (Albuquerque), California (Carlsbad), Colorado (Colorado Springs) and Texas (Dallas/Addison and San Antonio). The company has remained strong to this day due to its unwavering commitment to customer service, customer and employee satisfaction, and business practices rooted in core values of respect, trust and integrity.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (known as GAMA) is an industry trade association that represents the interests of the manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, products, and related enterprises based primarily in the United States. Founded by 11 companies in 1970, the association held its first meeting in Washington, D.C., and has since grown to over 120 member companies worldwide, with an additional office in Brussels, Belgium. GAMA’s primary purpose is to advocate for general aviation manufacturers, their suppliers, and those who maintain, repair, and overhaul general aviation aircraft around the world. Their vision is to promote a better understanding of general aviation and the important role it plays in economic growth and in serving the transportation needs of communities, companies and individuals worldwide. “General Aviation” is defined as all aviation other than military and scheduled commercial airlines. This includes over 440,000 general aviation aircraft flying worldwide today and supports $247 billion in total economic output and 1.2 million total jobs in the United States. In 2019, GAMA, in coordination with the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), sponsored a study to quantify general aviation’s impact on the U.S. economy, and concluded that each direct job in the general aviation industry supported 3.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
Today, the organization represents more than 140 airframe, avionics, engine, and component manufacturers, as well as the world’s leading business aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul companies. In addition to building nearly all general aviation airplanes flying worldwide, GAMA member companies also operate fleets of airplanes, fixed-based operations, pilot / technician training centers, and maintenance facilities in 47 U.S. states and 15 countries.
Michael Herman is a FAA Master Pilot associated with aviation business for more than 58 years, logging over 19,000 hours as a private pilot. He has also served as a board member for the Citation Jet Pilots owner-pilot association (CJP) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). In 1979, Herman co-founded North American Communications, which was a provider of direct mail services. Aviation was key to the success of his international mailing company, which he owned and operated for more than 45 years with factories in Pennsylvania, Kansas City, KS, Brinkley, AR, Fort Worth, TX, City of Commerce, CA, San Diego and Tijuana and Juarez, Mexico. He has served on several business-related boards, including the National Business Aviation Assocation, and is a contributor to the EAA. He has a special interest in the San Diego Air & Space Museum as an educational environment for children, whom he considers the future of aviation.
When he was 13 years old, Brian Keating first witnessed the moons of Jupiter, which ignited a life-long passion within him for astronomy. He purchased a telescope and read the works of Galileo. At the age of 17, he became a Physics Major at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and upon graduation in 1993, he pursued a Ph. D. in Experimental Cosmology at Brown University. After receiving his degree, Keating moved to California for postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, then in 2001, enrolled as a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow at Cal Tech where he worked with renowned astrophysicist Andrew Lange.
Because of his keen interest in the origins of the universe, Keating reasoned that by studying the oldest existing form of radiation, Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), scientists could more easily hypothesize how the universe began. In pursuit of this idea, Keating developed a telescope while at Cal Tech, known as BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization), which was built and erected in the South Pole.
Upon completion of his time at Cal Tech, Keating went to the University of California, San Diego, where he became a full professor in 2015 and a Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Physics. While at UCSD, he received the National Science Foundation career grant in 2005, a Presidential Early Career Award in 2006, and the Buchalter Cosmology Prize in 2014. He is also the Co-Director of both the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Ax Center for Experimental Cosmology.
Keating is the best-selling author of “Losing the Nobel Prize: A story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor,” which details his life and focuses on the BICEP project. He is also a pilot with a multi-engine turbine license, and involved in Angel Flight West, a nonprofit that provides air transport for medical procedures to those in need. In addition, Brian Keating is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the National Society of Black Physicists, the Joseph Henry Lecturer of the American Philosophical Society, and the 2019 UCSD Excellence in Stewardship award winner.
Born in Moline, Illinois in 1935, Dan Pedersen learned his love of flight from his father, a World War II veteran who took Pedersen on his first flight in 1946 in an old Ford Trimotor. The family later moved to California where Pedersen enlisted as a seaman recruit in the US Navy at Los Alamitos in 1953. Inspired again by a flight in a Navy jet, Pedersen applied to the Naval Aviation Cadet program, which trained enlisted men to fly. In 1955, Pedersen went to Pensacola, Florida where he learned the craft and received his wings on March 1, 1957.
Pedersen was assigned to VF (AW)-3 in San Diego where he honed his skills flying the F4D Skyray. In 1962, he transitioned to the McDonnell F3H Demon with VF-121 and then undertook an 8-month cruise onboard the USS Hancock in 1963 with VF-213. After that, Pedersen spent two years in Point Loma, with the fleet anti-air warfare-training center. Then he learned to fly the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II once again with VF-121, and assigned to combat duty in Vietnam with VF-92 on board the USS Enterprise. During his combat sorties, Pedersen saw first-hand the negative results of the limitations put on American pilots by inadequate training and overbearing restrictions.
In January 1969, Pedersen's concerns were confirmed when the Navy published the Ault Report, which recommended the establishment of an "Advanced Fighter Weapons School" to improve fighter pilots' skills. At the time, Pedersen was at Naval Air Station Miramar, where he was an instructor in advanced tactics and subsequently the perfect candidate to lead the school. On March 3, 1969, Pedersen was appointed as First Officer in Charge of the U. S. Navy's world famous TOPGUN Fighter Tactics Instructor postgraduate training program, which he and eight other young naval aviators were instrumental in establishing. After his time with TOPGUN, Pedersen flew combat missions during the Vietnam War before becoming squadron commander of VF-143 onboard USS America. In 1976, he was promoted to Captain, later commanding the tanker USS Wichita before becoming Captain of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in 1980. After relinquishing command of Ranger, he became Deputy Chief of Staff for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Today he is known as the "Godfather of TOPGUN."
Textron Aviation Incorporated is the leading general aviation authority and home to the Beechcraft, Cessna, and Hawker aircraft brands. The company is a subsidiary of Textron Inc., an American industrial conglomerate that started as a textile business in 1923. Founded by Royal Little in Boston, Massachusetts, as the Special Yarns Corporation, the company produced synthetic yarns for the manufacture of rayon, a niche product at the time. In 1938, little changed the company name to the Atlantic Rayon Corporation and became the major producer of parachutes and other textiles used during World War II. After the war, the company made products for civilians, prompting another company name change to “Textron” – a combination of “tex” from textiles and “tron” from synthetic fabrics like Lustron.
During the 1950s and 60s, the company began to move away from textile manufacture and set its sights on expanding and diversifying with the purchase of several other manufacturing companies, including Bell Helicopter. However, it was not until 2014 when Textron Inc. purchased Beechcraft that the company formed Textron Aviation, which also included Cessna and Hawker.
With a range that includes everything from business jets, turboprops, and high-performance pistons, to special mission, military trainer and defense products, Textron Aviation has the most versatile and comprehensive aviation product portfolio in the world and a workforce that has produced more than half of all general aviation aircraft worldwide.
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