Photo of Ron Kaplan (center) with photos of National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinees for 2015.

National Aviation Hall of Fame unveils ‘Class of 2015’

In NAHA News, National Aviation Hall of Fame /

DAYTON, Ohio—The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) on Tuesday, Dec. 16, announced the names of four individuals who have been elected for enshrinement at its annual formal ceremony, 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 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. The NAHF Class of 2015 is a diverse group representing a broad range of enduring contributions to both the advancement of flight and the manned exploration of space. The four to be formally enshrined on October 2, 2015, are:

  • Brig. General Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret)—After flying WWII 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 supersonic 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 and Apollo 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.
  • The late Abe Silverstein—A mechanical engineer and aerodynamicist who contributed to the improvement of WWII and early supersonic aircraft, Silverstein transitioned from NACA to NASA in 1958, becoming its first Director of the Office of Space Flight Programs. Credited as the architect of the space program and as the Father of Apollo, his vision led man’s way to the moon and the exploration of other planets.

The 53rd Annual NAHF Enshrinement Dinner and Ceremony will take place on Oct. 2, 2015 at the National Aviation Hall of Fame Learning Center and the adjacent National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Often referred to as “America’s Oscar Night of Aviation,” the black-tie ceremony is open to the public and reservations are available by advance purchase from the NAHF.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in Dayton in 1962 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1964. Its mission is to honor America’s aerospace legends to inspire future leaders, which it does through a 17,000 square-foot public Learning Center featuring interactive exhibits, a youth education program, other public outreach programs, its annual enshrinement ceremony, and collaboration with like-minded organizations. It is a partner of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.

For more information visit the Hall of Fame website at or call 937-256-0944 ext.10.