Guests from around the world are assembled in San Diego for tonight’s 2017 induction into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, an event that begins later today in the museum’s Pavilion of Flight. The San Diego museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, has over the years honored more than 200 of the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space pioneers. NASA Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts and Russian cosmonauts are honored in the Hall of Fame, as well as legends such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Chuck Yeager.
This year’s inductees arrive with a long pedigree of accomplishments in the air and space world and include the Atlas Rocket Program, Hudson B. Drake, Embry-Riddle’s Golden Eagles Flight Team, John Herrington, Christa McAuliffe, John J. Montgomery, Chance Vought and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
For example, the Atlas rocket program was America’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and NASA’s preferred space launch vehicle, while Hudson B. Drake, former president of Ryan Electronics and the Ryan Aeronautical Companies is known as a game-changer in aerospace, defense and electronics.
Embry-Riddle’s Golden Eagles flight team from the Prescott campus, has chalked up more wins over the past two decades than any other intercollegiate flying team. John Herrington, a NASA astronaut was the first Native American to walk in space. Christa McAuliffe, the first selectee for NASA’s Teacher in Space Program, lost her life in the crash of the space shuttle Challenger and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
John J. Montgomery is San Diego’s own aviation pioneer, inventor, professor, physicist, and innovator, as well as the man for whom Montgomery Field is named. Chance Vought an American aviation pioneer and engineer founded the Vought Aircraft Company.
Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum said proceeds from tonight’s benefit will support the museum’s youth education programs. “Inspiring kids to undertake tough science and engineering challenges is a critical first step for our future,” Kidrick said. “We must also give them the resources and impetus they need to pursue science education degrees.”