Group includes a living World War II bomber pilot, a Marine helicopter pilot from Barrington killed in action in Grenada, and four heroes from Vietnam: three living Army helicopter pilots who flew hundreds of hours of combat, plus a deceased pilot from the Navy’s only assault helicopter squadron. The Hall of Fame will also honor the manager of the first scheduled commercial airline service to Hiilsgrove/TF Green Airport, as well as the avid private pilot who founded the Gregg’s Restaurant chain.
Awardees have North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Pawtucket, Providence, South Kingstown, Wakefield and Westerly connections, and include alumni of St. Raphael Academy; Barrington, South Kingstown, Hope and Westerly High Schools; as well as Bryant College, Salve Regina University, Johnson & Wales University and the University of Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame will induct ten new members and present a rarely-given President’s Award as part of their 20th class of honorees. The ceremony and dinner will take place at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Cranston Saturday evening, November 19th. Reception is at 5:30PM; dinner and awards will follow.
Guest of Honor is Westerly native and sports legend John Stellitano, who piloted 36 missions over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in 1945. He will be 100 years old in March.
A Posthumous Combat Recognition goes to Lt. Jeffrey Scharver, USMC (1958-1983); Marine Corps Cobra helicopter pilot from Barrington, killed in action rescuing fellow Marines in Grenada, October 25, 1983.
This year’s Galkin Award, named for the Hall of Fame’s most generous benefactors, goes to aviation pioneer, inventor and aircraft manufacturer Allen P Bourdon (1888-1972). He was a World War I Instructor Pilot at the Gallaudet factory in Warwick. He later became a test pilot and designed and built the very first commercial aircraft built in New England. He became a respected Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigator later in life. This award, first given in 2017, is named after Warren and the late Robert Galkin, and is given to an individual whose contribution to aviation includes an advancement of the field though technology, design, implementation, exploration, bold initiative or risk-taking.
The 2022 President’s Award, given to a Rhode Islander who was involved with aviation but who made his primary mark in another field, goes to entrepreneur and philanthropist Edmund D. “Ted” Fuller III (1934-2021), the general aviation pilot and enthusiast who founded and managed the Gregg’s Restaurants chain.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. Tickets cost $65 each and can be obtained by emailing email@example.com, or purchased online. For further information, please call 401-831-8696.
Honorees are selected by an ad hoc committee representing several aviation groups. The committee includes all previous inductees, such as Robert Crandall, former chairman of American Airlines; Jennifer Murray, the first woman to fly a helicopter around the world; and Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders.
Short bios of each honoree are below. Stellitano, Durfee, Enright and Pond are still living; the other awards are all posthumous.
The event is sponsored in part by American Airlines, McLaughlin & Moran, Gregg’s Restaurants and Tavern, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of Boston.
BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARIES OF HONOREES
Captain Frederick R. Bartlett, USN (Ret) (1930-2020)
Naval Aviator; assault helicopter pilot with HA(L)-3, Vietnam; fixed wing patrol pilot and instructor; XO of USS Iwo Jima, which led the minesweeping operation in the Suez Canal after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. A long-time North Kingstown resident, he retired in 1978, then taught history at Valley Forge Military Academy in PA. He was a highly successful competitive swimmer, and in his later years became a champion triathlete. Bartlett competed in multiple Ironman events, including the 2000 Hawaiian Ironman at the age of 70. He died in 2020.
Allen P Bourdon (1888-1972)
An aviation pioneer and WWI instructor pilot, he also flew with Amelia Earhart. He moved to RI in 1917 to learn to fly at Gallaudet Aviation in East Greenwich. He became a designer and test pilot for Gallaudet and later set up his own manufacturing plant at Hillsgrove. Bourdon Aircraft Corporation produced the Kitty Hawk in 1928, the first commercial aircraft built in New England. He was a Vermont native who had a lengthy career as a Civil Aeronautics Board accident investigator. (Galkin Award recipient)
COL (Retired) Lawson W. “Topper” Durfee USA (1945—)
An Army helicopter pilot with almost 1000 Vietnam combat hours, he earned the coveted Master Army Aviator designation. He retired from the RI Army National Guard after 26 years of service accruing some 7000 total flight hours. Durfee has been a South Kingstown Reserve Police Officer for 25 years, and a Charlestown Constable detail officer for 11 years. Since 2004, he has also been an Assistant Harbor Master for the town of Charlestown. Born in Wakefield, he graduated from South Kingstown High School and URI.
BG (Retired) John L. Enright Sr., USA (1947—)
General Enright is the former Deputy Commanding General and Assistant Adjutant General-Army for the State of RI. As an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam he accrued close to 1000 combat flight hours. A Master Army Aviator, he he retired from the RI Army National Guard after forty years of service with almost 7000 total flight hours. Born in Providence, he is now a Pawtucket resident. A Hope High School grad, he holds a BS degree from Bryant College, and a masters from Salve Regina University.
William C. Harris (1906-1963)
As an early transport pilot and commercial aviation executive, Harris led the American Airlines operations in Providence from inception in 1936 until he retired in 1962. He learned to fly at Harvard University in the late 1920s, and went to work for Curtiss-Wright Flying Service in Boston, piloting a Ford Trimotor to and from Nantucket. Before joining American in 1935 he was a sales representative selling the helicopter forerunner known as Pitcairn Autogiros. Born in Falmouth, MA, he was a long-time Barrington resident.
COL (Retired) William H. Pond USA (1945—)
As an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam he flew more than 1300 combat hours, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars and numerous other decorations. Colonel Pond is a Master Army Aviator with more than 7800 hours total flight time. He is a two-time recipient of the Rhode Island Star, primarily for his long and successful tenure as Aviation Safety Officer. A resident of Narragansett, he was born and raised in Massachusetts and holds a BS from Troy State in Alabama.
Justin “Jay” Strauss (1933-2021)
Strauss was a USAF and General Aviation pilot with more than 12,000 hours of flight time. He flew tanker aircraft in the Strategic Air Command for three years. Best known as the longtime owner and manager of his family business, Eagle Cornice, he volunteered many hours on Angel Flight and Veteran’s Air Lift Command mercy missions. He flew children, combat wounded vets and families free of charge to clinics or hospitals for life-sustaining treatment. A recipient of the FAA’s prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, he was born in Providence. A longtime resident of Cranston, he graduated from Cranston East High School. He earned his undergraduate degree at Penn’s Wharton School and an MBA from Harvard.
Lt. Jeffrey Scharver, USMC (1958-1983)
Marine Corps helicopter pilot Scharver was killed in action in Grenada on October 25, 1983. His Cobra was shot down during a rescue of fellow wounded Marine pilots. Scharver, an ROTC graduate of Ohio State University, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. At OSU, an ROTC classroom has since been renamed the ‘Scharver Room’. The USMC Reserve Training Center in Johnstown, PA was named for Lt. Scharver, as was a hangar at Marine Corps Air Station, New River, NC. A Barrington HS grad, he is buried in Barrington.
John Stellitano ( 1923—)
This WWII bomber pilot, educator and athletic coach will turn 100 in March. He flew 36 missions over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress between December 1944 and March 1945. His plane was shot down and he and his crew were fortunate to survive. He is well known locally for his legendary exploits at Westerly High School, where he excelled as a student athlete and later as a coach. This lifelong Westerly resident holds BS and MS degrees in education from URI, and a Doctorate from Boston University.
Captain (Retired) Peter Young USA (1937-2021)
A Navy, Army and commercial pilot, Young joined the Army as a mechanic and switched to the Navy to go to flight school. After a tour as a Navy helo pilot, he resigned in 1946 to fly commercially with TWA. He rose to the rank of Captain, flying wide body jets on international routes. In 1975 he joined the RI Army National Guard where he flew both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters until his retirement in 1997. He accrued a total of 18,742 flight hours. Born, raised, and schooled in the Bronx, he attended Wheaton College in IL. He was a long-time East Greenwich resident.
Edmund D. “Ted” Fuller III (1934-2021)
Fuller is the President’s Award recipient, given to a Rhode Islander involved with aviation who made his primary mark in another field. Fuller’s visionary entrepreneurship in the hospitality industry, combined with his extensive philanthropy, are the bases for this award. He founded and operated Gregg’s Taverns and Restaurants, and for decades was a force in the RI Hospitality Association. Flying was a lifelong passion, and he owned several different private aircraft. Born and raised in Pawtucket, he graduated from St Raphael Academy and lived in Warwick. Johnson & Wales awarded Fuller an Honorary Doctorate in 2003.