California Aviation Hall of Fame Awards Will Take Place April 25

  • Apr 23, 2015 11:26am GMT

The Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport will once again host the annual Hall of Fame reception, dinner and induction which will take place at 3100 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica on Saturday evening, April 25, 2015, at 6:00pm. Ticket sales for the event are now closed.

This year’s ceremony will honor four amazing individuals in aviation: Iris Cummings Critchell, Lieutenant Colonel Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton, Robert J. “Bob” Gilliland and Burt Rutan.

Iris Cummings Critchell was an Olympic swimmer in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She learned to fly while a student in the University of Southern California’s (USC) first Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1939. During World War II, she served as a Women’s Air Force Service Pilot. Following the war, she returned to California where she developed and taught a curriculum on civilian flight for veterans at USC. She also helped found the Bates Aeronautics program at Harvey Mudd College in 1962. Ms. Critchell was a Federal Aviation Administration Pilot Examiner for more than 20 years and is the recipient of several international aviation awards.

Lieutenant Colonel Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton had a distinguished and decorated 23-year career as a pilot during World War II and the Korean War, flying 225 trips to Berlin during the Berlin Airlift and 55 combat missions over North Korea. He was an experimental test pilot with the U. S. Air Force and continued as a civilian research pilot with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Lt. Col. Fulton was the pilot on all early tests of the Boeing 747 Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft used to launch the first landing test flights of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Lt. Col. Fulton passed away on February 4, 2015.

Another renowned test pilot, Robert J. “Bob” Gilliland, served with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949 before accepting a commission in the U.S. Air Force and the opportunity to train as a pilot. During the Korean War, he flew the F-84 for a combat tour and then became a test pilot at Eglin Force Base. After leaving active duty, he joined Lockheed as a civilian test pilot for the F-104 Starfighter program. Later, Mr. Gilliland flew the first flight of Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird and then continued as the principal test pilot for the SR-71 development program, logging more supersonic flight test time above Mach 2 and Mach 3 than any other pilot.

Burt Rutan began his career as a civilian flight test engineer for the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base. He is celebrated for his revolutionary aircraft design and for creating light, strong, unconventional, energy-efficient aircraft. He designed the record-breaking Voyager, the first plane to circle the globe without stopping or refueling and the sub-orbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne which made the world’s first private manned space flight. Mr. Rutan has five aircraft on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.