FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 14, 2004
Contact: John Martin
Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame honorees announced;
inductions October 23 at Varnum Armory, East Greenwich
Balloonists, pioneer aviators and World War II heroes join Astronaut Woody Spring as honorees
PROVIDENCE, RI - Following up on last week's announcement of astronaut Colonel Sherwood "Woody" Spring as the guest of honor at the second annual Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner, the selection committee today announced the names of those to be inducted along with Colonel Spring. The additional honorees (all deceased) are:
Major General Andrew S. Low, Jr. US Air Force (Ret) (1917-2000): A Westerly native, Low enlisted in the Rhode Island National Guard in 1936 and graduated from West Point in 1942. He became a multi-engine instructor pilot and flew 16 B-24 missions before being shot down over Germany in 1944. He was liberated in April, 1945 after 273 days of captivity. Low stayed in the service after the war, serving in many top positions including Strategic Air Command representative at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. He later commanded the 40th Bombardment Wing, and capped off his military career as director of aerospace programs for the Air Force. In that capacity he drove the first 747 off Boeing's assembly line. After retiring from the military in 1971, General Low continued his service to his country by teaching at military bases through America and Europe until he retired again in 1987.
The Allen Family of Aeronauts: According to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, "If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it." Last year the Hall of Fame inducted James Allen (1824-1897) and Ezra Allen (1828 - 1900). This year, the induction includes the remaining Allen aeronauts, who flew balloons well into the 20th century. (Family members to be honored include James K. Allen, eldest son of James; his sister Lizzie;and their brother E. T. Allen. The youngest sibling, Malvern Hill Allen, named for the Civil War battle during which his father had earned a commendation as a Union Army balloonist), began to fly after 1881. Eventually, James K's wife and their four daughters also flew, as did Ezra's wife Mary Frances Penno.) In his fine book "Eagles Aloft", Tom Crouch reports that by July 1891 James Allen and his sons James K. and Malvern Hill had made 481 ascensions. The Allens taught and extended aeronautics well beyond themselves, most notably to more than a half dozen of their offspring, a few of whom became noted aeronauts in their own right. Crouch writes, "The Allens continued to fly well into the 20th century, earning national fame as 'America's First Family of Aeronautics'."
Sabatino ''Sabbie'' Ludovici (1910-2001: Born in Oguila, Italy, this pioneer aviator was also founder and chief flight instructor of Skylanes at North Central Airport. He started flying in 1927, and launched his first flight school at the What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket (later the site of Narragansett Race Track). In 1932 he moved to Smithfield and built his own airport. In 1935 he moved to Mendon, MA and launched Skylanes, which relocated a few years later to its permanent home in Lincoln. Ludovici was a flight instructor in the Navy during World War II, and later joined the Army, serving as a mechanic. In 1969 he also developed the first aerobatics instruction program ever approved by the FAA. For many years Skylanes was the only approved aerobatics school in the country. Ludovici gave flight tests for the FAA for 32 years. By the time he was 78 he had exceeded 45,000 flying hours. He also received the Airman of the Year Award from the Rhode Island Pilots Association.
Harry M. Jones (1890-1973): Described in a 1912 Providence Journal article as Rhode Island's "1st home grown aviator," Jones managed the very first air show ever held in Rhode Island that same year. He was also the first (and last) person ever to land a plane on the Boston Common. Jones was best known, however, for his role as the pilot of the first-ever air parcel post flight (January, 1913). He carried a cargo of baked beans (consigned to state governors and other officials) from Boston to Providence to New York. After that historic flight Jones became a well-known figure on the barnstorming circuit. During WWI he was a test pilot and then a civilian instructor for Army pilots, earning a commission as a lieutenant (later captain) in the US Army Reserve. In 1919 he moved to Maine, where he became arguably the most visible New England aviator in the 1920s. He served as Maine's State Aviation Commissioner in the 1930s, and eventually became an Inspector for the Civil Aeronautics Administration.
Hugh Willoughby (1856-1939): Newport resident Hugh Willoughby was was an avid inventor, traveler, aviator, and sportsman. He built his first serious aircraft model in 1894, the same year he organized the Naval Reserve in Rhode Island (he graduated from the Naval War College in 1896). By 1900 he was a noted aerial photographer, taking pictures of cities such as Paris from balloons. By 1908 he held 14 patents for air ships and aviation devices. In 1908 he was part of Orville Wright's support team during their very first public flights at Fort Myer, Virginia. By 1909 Willoughby had a "biplane under construction" at Newport. To illustrate how respected he was among early aviators, Willoughby was director of flying at the prestigious Belmont Park, NY air meet (October, 1910). The biplane Glenn Curtiss flew at this event was equipped with Willoughby's patented double rudders; they soon became standard equipment on biplanes of the day. The names of other pilots who used Willoughby's equipment (and counted him as a colleague and friend) read like a Who's Who of aviation pioneers: the Wright Brothers, Henri Farman, Louis Paulhan, Charles Hamilton, Ruth Law, Thomas Scott Baldwin, and Roger Jannus. In 1911 he became the first person to fly a seaplane in Rhode Island--one that he designed and built himself. He later launched the Willoughby Aeroplane Company, with facilities in Newport and Sewall's Point, Florida to build and sell aircraft of his own design. He built and flew the "Swan Triplane" as he approached his 70th birthday. He was a senior official at national air meets until close to his 80th birthday.From the time he began flying at the age of 53 until the time of his death he was America's oldest licensed pilot.
Financial sponsors of this year's event include Lockheed-Martin Information Systems; Rhode Island Space Grant Consortium; the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation; and the Rhode Island Aviation and Space Education Council.
The Hall of Fame concept is supported by a number of other aviation-related groups in the state, to include the Quonset Air Museum, Rhode Island Pilots Association, the Civil Air Patrol, the Quiet Birdmen and the EAA.
Other members of the Hall of Fame selection committee include Larry Webster, one of the nation's foremost aviation historians and archeologists; Marilyn Biagetti, representing both the Rhode Island Pilots Association and the Ninety-Nines (Association of women pilots); George Conery and Bill Sheridan of the Quonset Air Museum; Paul Haas; John Gibbons; Chris Lynch; and RADM Don Weiss USN (Ret).
Tickets to the event cost $40, and can be obtained by calling 401-831-8696.
Woody Spring's induction (and role as speaker at the October 23 dinner event) was announced in a separate release last week.
COL Sherwood C. "Woody" Spring US Army (Ret), a Ponaganset High School grad who considers Harmony, RI to be his home, is a Vietnam combat helicopter pilot and a NASA astronaut.