National Aviation Hall of Fame reveals names of four to be enshrined as the “Class of 2015”

  • Dec 17, 2014 12:32pm GMT

Last night, December 16, 2014, the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) announced the names of four individuals who have been elected for enshrinement at its annual formal ceremony on Friday, October 2, 2015 in Dayton. On that night they will officially join the roster of 225 men and women air and space pioneers who have been inducted by the NAHF since its founding in 1962.

The four names and photos of the incoming Enshrinee Class of 2015 were unveiled at a reception in the NAHF’s Learning Center, an interactive exhibit hall located adjacent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The December 16th announcement date was chosen in part because of its significance as the eve before the 111th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. The Wrights were the first two to be enshrined into the Hall back in 1962.

Each year, the NAHF Board of Nominations, a voting body comprised of over 120 aviation professionals nationwide, selects a handful of previously nominated air and space pioneers to be recognized for their achievements with enshrinement into the NAHF. As the NAHF Enshrinement Director, I had the privilege of announcing the NAHF Class of 2015 – a group whose enduring contributions and record-setting achievements span virtually the 100-year-plus history of manned flight. The four to be formally enshrined on October 2, 2015, are:

Brig. General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret) – After flying combat as a B-24 pilot in Europe, Cardenas graduated from test pilot school in 1945. He was instrumental as the B-29 mothership pilot and operations officer on the record-breaking X-1 program and as chief pilot on the XB-49 flying wing program. He commanded a combat wing of F-105’s in Southeast Asia and later the Air Force Special Operations Force.

• The late Robert N. Hartzell – Son of an Ohio woodworker, Hartzell was inspired by neighbor Orville Wright to explore propeller manufacturing. By WWI, Hartzell’s company provided propellers used on “Liberty” engines. After briefly manufacturing its own aircraft, the company focused on supplying wood propellers to its customers and metal propellers used on WWII aircraft. Postwar, Hartzell additionally developed lightweight and controllable propellers that spurred worldwide development of the general aviation industry.

Eugene “Gene” Kranz – Kranz flew fighters in Korea and was an Air Force flight test engineer before joining NASA’s Space Flight Group in 1960, where he rose through roles in flight operations with the progression of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and planetary exploration programs. His 37 years of federal service include serving as Flight Director during the Apollo 13 mission and as NASA Director of Mission Operations, responsible for over 6,000 employees and a $700 million budget.