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In The News 2018 – Virginia Aviation History Group Moves to Spotsylvania

In The News 2018 – Virginia Aviation History Group Moves to Spotsylvania
November 24, 2017

THE FREE LANCE-STAR, Fredericksburg

As thousands gathered recently for an air show at Shannon Airport, a state aviation history organization was opening new offices just across the runway in a house on Tidewater Trail.

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society had offices in the Virginia Aviation Museum during the years that facility was located next to the airport in Richmond. But the museum, based on the original collections of Fredericksburg-area airport founder Sidney L. Shannon Jr., closed last year after a 30-year run at that site.

When Spotsylvania County businessman and pilot Luke Curtas reopened the state aviation museum as the Shannon Air Museum at Shannon Airport in 2017, the historical society, which has long played a key support role for the museum, decided to follow the museum, according to Society President Doug Winegardner.

The VAHS, with some 400 members statewide, participates in a range of activities related to aviation history, according to Winegardner, a Richmond lawyer. Among its numerous projects, the historical group maintains the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame and inducted its two newest members at a dinner at the Fredericksburg Expo Center on Oct. 28. A new Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame exhibit has been added to the collections at the Shannon Air Museum and is now on view. Central Virginia is well represented among those honored, according to Curtas. Honorees include many nationally prominent figures in aerospace activities.

The two new honorees bring the list of names to more than 125, said VAHS Office Manager Jennifer Melton. Added to the honors list this year were Col. Adelbert “Buz” Carpenter, a veteran Air Force pilot with a lengthy career in near space flight and other areas of advanced aviation.

Also honored was Katherine Johnson, featured in the hit film, “Hidden Figures.” Johnson is a mathematician who played a vital role in the early U.S. space exploration program.

Johnson, who is 99, did not attend the gathering, but her eldest daughter, Joylette Hylick, accepted the Hall of Fame honors on her behalf.

In addition to the Hall of Fame, Winegardner said the historical society maintains history archives of important documents in Virginia aviation and space history; has a program setting up roadside markers to commemorate historical aviation events in the state; recently established the Capt. Earl Worley Scholarship program for college-bound high school seniors planning aerospace careers; and publishes a quarterly members magazine.

There are local chapters of the VAHS in several communities, including Williamsburg, Warrenton, the Northern Neck and Topping, said Winegardner, as well as plans for chapters in Roanoke and Fredericksburg. With the society’s state headquarters in Spotsylvania now, Winegardner said all of its regular primary meetings will be held locally, including not only the Hall of Fame gala but board meetings and an annual charity auction.

Membership in the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society is open to anyone with an interest in aviation and space history, including non-pilots.

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