Class of 2015 for California Aviation Hall of Fame named

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Museum of Flying will host the induction into the California Aviation Hall of Fame of Iris Cummings Critchell, Lt. Col Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton, Robert J. “Bob” Gilliland, and Burt Rutan on Saturday, April 25. The Museum of Flying has confirmed the attendance of Critchell, Gilliland, and Rutan.

The Hall will also recognize 10 “legacy” inductees who shaped the growth of the aviation industry in California. They are Pat Hyland, president of Hughes Aircraft, John Joseph Montgomery, glider pioneer, Clifton Moore, father of LAX, Robert Prescott, founder of the Flying Tiger Line, William Schoneberger, noted aviation author, Robert Six, CEO of Continental Airlines, Bobbi Trout, record-setting and stunt aviatrix, Willis Hawkins, noted Lockheed aircraft designer, and Ralph H. Ruud, co-founder of North America Aviation.

Critchell was an Olympic swimmer in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and a Women’s Air Service Pilot during World War II. After the War, she developed and taught the aviation curriculum at USC’s College of Aeronautics, and established a similar program at the Harvey Mudd College of Science and Engineering. A member of the Ninety-Nines, she won the “Powder Puff Derby” women’s transcontinental air race in 1959. Critchell served as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner for more than 20 years. She has maintained her pilot currency and still flies at the age of 94.

Fulton enjoyed a 40-year career in aviation that would literally be impossible to duplicate today. He flew more than 235 different types of aircraft and was an experimental test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and Scaled Composites, experiencing every generation of advanced aircraft in the 20th century. Fulton piloted the launch aircraft for every experimental research plane from the Bell X-1 to the X-15. He also flew the Boeing 747 that launched the first landing tests flights of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. He passed away Feb. 4 at the age of 89.

Gilliland joined the Navy at 17, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1949, and was commissioned as an Air Force 2nd Lt. After earning his pilots wings, he flew F-84 Thunderjets in the Korean War and became a test pilot at Elgin Air Force base. He was later hired by Lockheed in 1960 as a test pilot for the F-104 Starfighter program. He was chosen by Kelly Johnson of the famous Lockheed Skunkworks to serve as the test pilot for the SR-71 Blackbird, making the aircraft’s first flight on Dec. 22, 1964. Gilliland is known as “Mr. Mach 3″ as he had more flight hours at Mach 3 than any other person in the world for a number of years.

Rutan began his career as a civilian flight test engineer for the U.S Air Force at Edwards Air Force base.He took aeronautical engineering and innovation to levels never seen before. Starting with such revolutionary aircraft as the Variviggen, the VariEze, and the Long-EZ, Rutan expanded the design envelope with a host of unconventional, but exceeding efficient aircraft designs. Besides creating the globe-circling Voyager, he entered the Space Age and the record books when SpaceShipOne made the world’s first private manned space flight.

The event will serve as a fundraiser for the Museum of Flying. Tickets are $250 per person and a major portion of the ticket purchase will be tax deductible. Tickets can be purchased online