Astronaut, Aviation Pioneers Inducted into NAHF Class of 2023

The Class of 2023 is composed of both living and posthumous inductees.

An astronaut, history-making pilots, aviation policy makers, and a commercial aerospace pioneer make up the Class of 2023 National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF).

The NAHF, founded in 1962, is the only Congressionally chartered aviation hall of fame in the United States. Each year, the NAHF Board of Nominations, a body of more than 130 aviation professionals nationwide, select class members from the world of aviation and aerospace. The selectees are drawn from air and space pioneers, both living and posthumously. Thus far 254 people have been honored.

The Class of 2023 is composed of both living and posthumous inductees.

Velta Benn [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

(The late) Velta Benn

Benn is an aviation pioneer who began as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP), class 44-W-7, and went on to fly for more than 63 years, amassing 55,000 flying hours as a CFI, FAA examiner, and safety expert. In 1983 she was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. Benn flew West in December 2010 at the age of 93.

Cornelius Coffey [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

(The late) Cornelius Coffey

Coffey is an aviation pioneer who, despite many racial barriers, became a pilot and mechanic. He opened a flight school that trained more than 1,500 students, including hundreds of Tuskegee Airmen. In the 1930s, Coffey was an automobile mechanic who dreamed of becoming a pilot. In 1931 he brought together a group of black air enthusiasts to study at the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical School. Segregation at the time excluded them from local airports, so local aviators of color built their own facility in Robbins, Illinois, and the Coffery School of Aeronautics was born. Coffey’s school was one those selected in World Was II for the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).

Ed Stimpson [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

(The late) Ed Stimpson

Stimpson was a founding member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), an organization he led for many years. He was also the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF).

In 1994, when the general aviation industry was floundering because of lawsuits targeting aircraft manufacturers, Stimpson helped champion the General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA), which was credited with helping revive the industry by limiting manufacturers’ product liability to 18 years.

Angela Gittens [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

Angela Gittens

Gittens is known for her work with Airport Council International (ACI) World. Gittens has been the Director General of ACI World since 2008. She was formerly airport CEO for Miami and Atlanta and Deputy at San Francisco International Airport, where she helped shape airport security and policy.

Fred Haise [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

Fred Haise

Haise joined the aviation world in 1952 as a naval aviation cadet. He served as a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot from 1954-1956 and later became a test pilot for NASA. Haise was selected for the manned space program in 1966. In 1970, Haise was the Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 13 mission in which the intended moon landing was canceled because of a rupture in a fuel-cell oxygen tank. Haise was also part of the space shuttle program then went on to an executive position with the Northrop Grumman Corporation. Haise is also an author; his book, Never Panic Early, an Apollo 13 Astronauts Journey, was released in hardcover in April of this year.

Elon Musk [Courtesy: National Aviation Hall of Fame]

Elon Musk

Musk is an entrepreneur and leader in the commercial aerospace. Musk is the founder of SpaceX, the first private company to put crewed spacecraft into orbit and dock with the International Space Station. Musk is known as a major influencer in the technology and aerospace industry.

NAHF Board of Nominations Chair Tom Lodge revealed the Class of 2023 at the 2022 Enshrinement Dinner and Ceremony in Dayton, Ohio.

“We believe that this is an excellent class and we are already looking forward to their induction in Washington, D.C.,” Lodge said. “From pioneers Benn and Coffey to visionaries Gittens, Stimpson, and Musk, and to aerospace hero Haise, the NAHF’s Class of 2023 represents the best in aviation. We applaud the Board of Nominations for their challenging and thorough work.”

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