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Purposes & Goals

Officers & Directors

purposes and goals

RIAHOF exists to increase public awareness of the history and technological development of aviation, with an emphasis on the role played by the state of Rhode Island and its residents in aviation’s progress over the years. To accomplish that goal, RIAHOF recognizes and honors individuals and organizations who played a role in that progress.

We hope to inform and educate the public about aviation history in general, and Rhode Island’s aviation heritage in particular. To accomplish that goal, we intend to:

  • • Acquire, preserve, protect and interpret vintage aircraft and other artifacts;
  • • Collect and display materials associated with Rhode Island’s aviation heroes;
  • • Restore to operational condition artifacts of significance, so they can be observed in the historical environment and context their builders  and users intended;
  • • Provide a suitable facility for displaying, maintaining (and restoring as necessary) our collection, and provide maximum public access to the collection and related programming;
  • •Develop exhibitry to show what life was like during periods covered by the collection;
  • •Develop a significant math and science center, a living laboratory for cutting-edge computer technology and virtual reality;
  • •Become an economic engine, creating jobs and generating economic impact;
  • •Motivate students through innovative programming, providing them with useful skills and experiences to help them become productive members of society;
  • •Become a true community resource: a safe haven for children, a vocational training center, and an important family recreation and entertainment destination and a facility for major special events;
  • •Work with other organizations which will support this mission.

Officers and directors

President and Treasurer: Francis L. Lennon

Mr. Lennon is a West Point graduate, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former Green Beret whose corporate experience was in commercial aviation.  He holds an M.A. in International Relations from Boston University. For 20 years he ran his own marketing, promotion and publishing business. He has also been an analyst on MSNBC for terrorism and special operations issues. His introduction to the aviation museum business came in 1996,  when he took over the Geneseo, New York-based Wings of Eagles Air Show and the National Warplane Museum, and relocating them both to Elmira. Since 1998 he has led the effort to create a family attraction, educational center, museum and memorial in Rhode Island, featuring an aircraft carrier as the centerpiece. He also successfully negotiated the relocation of the Russian submarine Juliett 484 to Providence, organized and ran Rhode Island’s salute to the centennial of aviation, and launched the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame.

Secretary: William E. Sheridan

Mr. Sheridan is a practicing attorney with extensive experience consulting on municipal planning issues. He served for more than 30 years in various capacities in State government, retiring as Assistant Chief of the Statewide Planning Office in the RI Department of Administration, where he was responsible for Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Planning. He is also a private pilot and a Founder of the Quonset Air Museum. He received his JD from Suffolk University, and also earned a Masters Degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Sheridan is also former chief of the Fruit Hill Volunteer Fire Department, an organization he served for 25 years.

Vice President: BG James J. D'Agostino, USAF (Ret)

General D'Agostino is the former Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Adjutant General for Air of the RI National Guard. He started his military service by enlisting in the Army, and earned the Combat Infantry Badge in Vietnam. He spent 21 years with the Air Force, to include service as the Base Civil Engineer responsible for the Coventry and North Smithfield Guard Stations; six years with the National Guard Bureau; and United States Property and Fiscal Officer for Rhode Island. His civilian experience includes 11 years with the City of Providence, culminating as Deputy City Traffic Engineer. He is Past President of the Reserve Officers Association (Rhode Island).

Director: CAPT Richard D. Suttie, USN (Ret)

Captain Suttie is Assistant Dean of Academics at the Naval War College in Newport. Professor Suttie oversees research and war gaming operations and researches the future of naval strategy for the Chief of Naval Operations. Captain Suttie logged more than 3,500 hours in a variety of naval aircraft, primarily the P-3 Orion. He served on Battle Group staffs embarked on USS Midway and USS Missouri, and had aviation command in 1996. He was subsequently assigned to attaché duty at the American Embassy in London. A native of San Diego, he is a graduate of USC.

Director: Geoffrey Staley

Mr. Staley is the former president of the National Warplane Museum (now located in Elmira, NY). In that capacity he was responsible for a fleet of 35 aircraft, to include a flying World War II vintage B-17 “Flying Fortress”. The museum administered “Wings of Eagles”, the largest pure warbird air show in the United States, featuring more than 150 aircraft and 75,000  attendees. A pharmacist by profession, Mr. Staley is a graduate of the University of Colorado College of Pharmacy.

Director: Jo Ann Engelhardt

Ms. Engelhardt is Managing Director of the Bessemer Trust operation in Palm Beach, Florida. Previously she served as President and CEO of Merrill Lynch Trust Company’s Florida operation. She also served on the borad of the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation for a number of years. A Brooklyn native, she holds a JD and an LLM from NYU. Her banking experience (which also includes US Trust and Citicorp Trust) combined with her legal background make her a very valuable asset to guide the board in such matters.the ideal person to establish and development the Foundation’s endowment program.

Director: Dr. Geoffrey Wilson, LCDR, USN

Dr. Wilson received his Doctorate in Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2004. Upon graduation from internship he reported to the USS John F. Kennedy(CV-67) as the General Medical Officer, caring for more than 3000 sailors from July 2005-July 2007.  He assisted in the ship's decommissioning in 2007.  He then went on to a Residency in Anesthesiology at the Tufts Medical Center in  Boston. From 2010 to 2014 he served as VP and then President of the Medical Staff at Naval Health Clinic New England in Newport. During that period he deployed twice to the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay. He is now assigned to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in DC.