The first inductions into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame took place in December, 2003, in conjunction with the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation's celebration of the Centennial of Aviation.
The first reaction from skeptics was to snicker and say, "Well, this is Rhode Island; you’ll run out of candidates in a few years."
Little did those skeptics know just how rich and varied our aviation history is, and just how many wonderfully skilled and talented contributors to the aerial age have been born in RI, were educated here, lived here for a portion of their lives or performed some great aviation-related act or service here.
Each year’s induction, and the publicity it receives, generates more recommendations from people just like yourselves. Many of you have written or called to let us know about the role a family member, neighbor or friend may have played in our state's rich aviation history. In fact, six of our last ten inductees were not even on our radar screen the previous year. They have been honored because some of you picked up the phone or sent us an e-mail.
That means that some of our original nominees from 2003 are still on the waiting list, because each year brings forth more new and deserving nominees. Once more the skeptics were wrong; we will not run out of deserving candidates for some time to come.
Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, Inc., (RIAHOF), plans to develop a world-class, financially self-sufficient family attraction, education and job training center, museum and memorial on the Aquidneck Island (Newport) side of Rhode Island’s beautiful Narragansett Bay, featuring the retired aircraft carrier John F Kennedy as the centerpiece.
The RIAHOF was honored to have recognized Mr. MacLean at the 2016 Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame. As per the family's request, donations may be made in his memory by clicking here.
Thomas MacLean (1932-2017) exceeded his wildest dreams by becoming a USAF F84 Thunderjet pilot right before the end of the Korean War. The Warwick native joined the RI Air National Guard, where he was active from the early 1960s to the mid 1970s. He initially flew the C-46 Commando and the SA-16A Albatross, as well as the U-10 Helio Courier and other assorted aircraft. He also flew F84 fighter jets out of Connecticut, and was Governor John Chafee’s pilot in the 1960s. From the late 1950s until the early 1980s MacLean also flew for Pan American World Airways. He lived the Jet Age, making the transition from props to jets. When Pan Am pioneered affordable international air travel with the first major order for Boeing 747s, Tom became the youngest captain in Pan Am’s new 747 fleet.
At the 14th Annual Induction Dinner & Ceremony, RI Aviation Hall of Fame focused on those individuals who served with (or supported) the RI Air National Guard, or aviation elements of the RI Army National Guard. Our guest of honor this year was BG Christopher Callahan, Rhode Island’s Adjutant General who is also an aviator.
The 2015 RIAHOF Dinner and Awards Ceremony was held on Saturday, November 21, 2015 @ 6 PM at Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Cranston, RI.
November 21st awardees have North Kingstown, Portsmouth, Coventry, Warwick, East Greenwich, and Woonsocket connections, and include attendees at Westerly and Woonsocket High Schools, St. Mary's Academy-Bay View, Providence College and Brown University.
Our Guest of Honor this year was Arizona Congresswoman and retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally, a Warwick native and Bay View graduate.
In addition to AZ Congresswoman Martha McSally, 2015 honorees include a husband/wife team of Navy Chiefs; a fighter pilot from the First World War; a general aviation pilot with more than 40,000 flight hours; and the man responsible for Coventry High School’s Air Force JROTC program.
The Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame (RIAHOF) is pleased to announce that Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston (TECO-Boston) was a 2015 RIAHOF Dinner Sponsor.
One of our permanent exhibits aboard the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (permanent home for the RI Aviation Hall of Fame) will be a memorial to all those with RI connections who were involved in fighting in and for the Republic of China (ROC) during WWII. We hope the centerpiece of the exhibit will be a P-40 fighter aircraft with ROC and Flying Tiger markings.
We plan to work with TECO-Boston, the representative office of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the area, to develop that exhibit. The first step along that path is to identify and recognize them at our annual dinners.
We have already honored one Rhode Island pilot who was a Flying Tiger (Parker Dupouy), and three others who flew with Chennault's successor China Air Task Force (pilots Mel Kimball and William Grosvenor, plus crew member Chet Wachowicz).
In addition, RIAHOF has recognized Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran, FDR's advisor whom many credit with the creation of the Flying Tigers.
We made a concerted effort this year to find additional candidates, and have identified 11 more so far, including another fighter ace--LTC Charles "Ace" Griffith, who was killed in China in 1944 after flying 103 combat missions.
With TECO-Boston as a potential partner, we hope to generate more nominations as well as visibility for both RIAHOF and TECO-Boston.
For further information about TECO-Boston, please visit: