The first inductions into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame took place in December, 2003, in conjunction with the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation's celebration of the Centennial of Aviation.
The first reaction from skeptics was to snicker and say, "Well, this is Rhode Island; you’ll run out of candidates in a few years."
Little did those skeptics know just how rich and varied our aviation history is, and just how many wonderfully skilled and talented contributors to the aerial age have been born in RI, were educated here, lived here for a portion of their lives or performed some great aviation-related act or service here.
Each year’s induction, and the publicity it receives, generates more recommendations from people just like yourselves. Many of you have written or called to let us know about the role a family member, neighbor or friend may have played in our state's rich aviation history. In fact, six of our last ten inductees were not even on our radar screen the previous year. They have been honored because some of you picked up the phone or sent us an e-mail.
That means that some of our original nominees from 2003 are still on the waiting list, because each year brings forth more new and deserving nominees. Once more the skeptics were wrong; we will not run out of deserving candidates for some time to come.
Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, Inc., (RIAHOF), plans to develop a world-class, financially self-sufficient family attraction, education and job training center, museum and memorial on the Aquidneck Island (Newport) side of Rhode Island’s beautiful Narragansett Bay, featuring the retired aircraft carrier John F Kennedy as the centerpiece.
The 2012 RIAHOF Dinner and Awards Ceremony was held on Saturday, November 17, 2012.
This year's event took place at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Cranston, RI.
In addition to our normal recognition of individuals, we also commemorated the 100th anniversary of US Marine Corps Aviation.
Our Guest of Honor was Marine Corps Major Will Chesarek, USMC, a Newport-born helicopter pilot who became the first American since World War II to earn the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
Special Recognitions went to Vietnam helicopter pilot and local journalist Joel Rawson, and Stan Essex, Jr., Korean War pilot and aircraft restorer.
The four remaining inductees, all deceased, were:
R.W. "Dick" Foote, LCDR Robert McCollough, CDR Paul G. Farley, and LCDR John "Jack" Greenwell.
The President's Award went to Thomas G. Corcoran, a Pawtucket native instrumental in forming the Flying Tigers, and one of the architect's of FDR's "New Deal".
PRESS COVERAGE OF THE EVENT:
The sold out 2011 Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards ceremony was held on
Saturday, February 4, 2012.
The 2010 event raised more than $23,000, and merited a front page feature in that Sunday's Providence Journal! Read the article on projo.com >
The 2010 inductees into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame are Otto Hermann, John Coonan and Rick Wilson. (Only Wilson is still living.)
They are in addition to Retired Air Force Major General and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders (left), one of the first three humans to view the dark side of the moon, who will be the Guest of Honor at our annual event.
We also to plan to recognize the lifetime contributions of Newport-born George Sullivan to the General Aviation community, and the Naval Aviation career of John Romano from East Greenwich.