Broadcast: February 11, 2004
This is Doug Johnson. Today on Explorations in VOA Special English we tell about some men and women who are members of the Aviation Hall of Fame. They have been honored for what they did for flying.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame is in Dayton, Ohio. It opened in nineteen-sixty-two. Since that time, the Hall of Fame has honored one-hundred-seventy-eight men and women for their work in aviation. Four more will be honored this year. Those honored will include Harriet Quimby, the first woman pilot in America.
The first two people chosen as members of the Aviation Hall of Fame were Orville and Wilbur Wright. They lived and worked in Dayton. The Wright Brothers were the first humans to make and fly a powered aircraft.
Their story is well known. Another early member of the Aviation Hall of Fame is Charles Lindbergh. His record-setting flight across the Atlantic Ocean began on May twentieth, nineteen-twenty-seven.
Neil Armstrong is another member of the Hall of Fame. He was the first human to walk on the moon. The story of the Apollo Eleven landing on the moon is also well known.
Today, Mary Tillotson and Steve Ember tell about other members of the Aviation Hall of Fame who are not as famous.
Have you ever heard the name Edwin Link? Probably not. Yet many pilots know him. Mister Link was a pioneer in flight training. He invented a machine that helped teach new pilots to fly.
Edwin Link was born in nineteen-oh-four and died in nineteen-eighty-one. He became a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in nineteen seventy-six.
The device he invented is called the Link Trainer. Link Trainers did not really fly. But they were designed to copy flight. New pilots could use flight controls and instruments as if they were inside a real plane. A new pilot learned how to fly in the air by flying a Link Trainer that never left the ground.
The Link Company improved their trainers over time. More experienced pilots used them to learn to fly using only flight instruments to find their way. Edwin Link made it possible for many pilots to learn difficult skills in complete safety.
Just south of the city of San Diego, California is a small hill that looks toward the Pacific Ocean. A huge airplane wing rises out of the ground there. It is a monument to John Montgomery, another member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.
Not many people remember John Montgomery now. Yet many aviation experts believe he was the father of basic flying. He flew in gliders...aircraft that have no power.
John Montgomery built gliders for more than twenty years. He died in a glider accident in nineteen-eleven. Mister Montgomery made most of his flights before anyone understood how to control an aircraft in flight.
Montgomery’s study of flight and his attempts at flying led the way for the many others who followed. He became a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in nineteen-seventy-three.
Giuseppe Bellanca is another name you probably do not know. He became a member of the Hall of Fame in nineteen-ninety-three. He came to the United States from Sicily before World War One. Mister Bellanca designed and built airplanes for the Wright Aircraft Company in the eastern state of New Jersey.
Charles Lindbergh decided to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in nineteen-twenty-seven. He wanted to use a Wright-Bellanca aircraft. Lindbergh met with Giuseppe Bellanca. Mister Bellanca said his airplane could make the flight. He was very excited about Lindbergh’s plan. The Wright company, however, did not approve of him using one of the company’s planes. Company officials thought Lindbergh might fail. Charles Lindbergh had to find a different airplane to make his famous flight.
Later, a Wright-Bellanca airplane was the first to fly the Atlantic Ocean in both directions. And, in nineteen-thirty-one, Giuseppe Bellanca designed and built an airplane that became the first to fly across the Pacific Ocean without stopping. It was called the Miss Veedol. It flew from Samishiro Beach, Japan, to the town of Wenatchee in the western state of Washington. Clyde Pangborn was the pilot of Miss Veedol. He is remembered more in Japan than he is in the United States. He became a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in nineteen-ninety-five.
Only a few aviation experts can tell you about Charles E. Taylor. His friends called him “Charlie.” He became a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in nineteen-sixty-five.
On December Seventeeth, nineteen-oh-three, Orville Wright became the first human to fly in a powered aircraft. Orville and his brother Wilber designed and built the aircraft. Charlie Taylor built the small gasoline engine they used.
The three men designed the engine. They drew pictures on pieces of paper. Then Charlie Taylor built the needed part. He made the complete engine in only six weeks using almost no equipment. Today, you can see the Wright airplane when you visit the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington D-C. Just to the left of the controls is Charlie Taylor’s very important engine!
In nineteen-ten, a newspaper publisher offered fifty-thousand dollars to the first pilot to fly an airplane across the United States. He said the trip must be made within thirty days. Many pilots tried. All failed.
No one was able to collect the prize. But one man did succeed in flying across the United States. His name was Calbraith Perry Rodgers. He became a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in nineteen-sixty-four.
Calbraith Rodgers started his famous flight on Sunday, September Seventeenth, nineteen eleven. He took off from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on the eastern coast of the United States. Bad luck followed him all the way. He crashed several times.
Each time the plane was rebuilt. The weather was often terrible and kept him on the ground for days. The thirty days he was supposed to fly to collect the prize passed, but Rodgers continued the flight.
His plane crashed nineteen kilometers short of the Pacific Ocean. He was badly hurt. Newspapers said he had successfully completed the flight. Rodgers did not agree. Four weeks later, he was helped into his airplane and flew the remaining distance to the Pacific Ocean. He landed December Tenth on the beach, the tires of his airplane wet from the Pacific Ocean. The trip had taken eighty-four days to complete. Calbraith Rodgers had succeeded in becoming the first pilot to fly across the United States.
Jacqueline Cochran was chosen as a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame for many reasons. She was the first women to pilot a jet airplane faster than the speed of sound. She won a top prize for flying racing planes.
She also won the highest award given to a pilot in America -- not once, but fourteen times. During World War Two, she helped organize a group of women pilots who flew military airplanes to help in the War effort. For this work, she became the first civilian ever to be given Americaąs Distinguished Service Medal.
In the early nineteen-sixties, Jackie Cochran was a test pilot for the Lockheed Company. She flew a fighter plane two-thousand-two-hundred-eighty-six kilometers an hour. That is more than two times the speed of sound. It was at that time the fastest speed ever reached by a female pilot.
Jackie Cochran died of a heart attack in nineteen-eighty. At the time of her death, she held more flying records for speed, distance and height than any other man or woman in aviation history.
Many of the men and women in the Aviation Hall of Fame designed, built and flew different kinds of airplanes. Some are honored for their service to the United States in time of war. Some are honored for the famous aircraft they designed. Others for the aviation companies they started.
Members of the Aviation Hall of Fame helped make flying safe for the public. Some were killed in their efforts to improve aviation. And some of those honored have led the way to the exploration of space.
This Special English program was written and produced by Paul Thompson. This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program on the VOICE OF AMERICA.