First Flight Society Announces 2022 Class of Honorary Members

KITTY HAWK, N.C. – Nov. 19, 2022 – The First Flight Society announces 4 new Honorary Members for 2022: Record holder Zara Rutherford, military pilot Nicole Malachowski, airplane collector Jerry Yagen and artist Gregory Kavalec.


Zara Rutherford became the youngest female pilot to fly solo around the world and the first person to circumnavigate the earth in a microlight aircraft. She was just 19 years old when she began a 5-month
journey that started in Kortrijk, Belgium, in August 2021, and ended back there in January 2022.


Nicole Malachowski was the first female pilot selected to fly as part of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds. She is a retired United States Air Force Colonel. Nicole
became a speaker and advocate on behalf of patients with tick-borne illnesses.


Gerald “Jerry” Yagen is the founder of the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, Virginia and founder of Centura College and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance schools. He has played a major role in keeping
aviation history alive in the US.


Gregory Kavalec is an artist who is responsible for many of the paintings In the First Flight Society’s Paul E Garber Shrine. His latest painting will be unveiled on December 17th at Wright Brothers National
Memorial.


The Honorary Member program launched in 2020 to enhance the public visibility of luminaries like these who have achieved national recognition in aviation. First Flight Society will recognize them in Society
Media during their lifetime. In turn, FFS offers them the chance to attend the December 17th Luncheon in Kitty Hawk, NC and be honored along with that year’s Honoree. Previous FFS Honorary Members include
General Charles McGee, Colonel Gail Halvorsen, Patty Wagstaff, Rob Holland and Sean D Tucker.


This year’s honoree is General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the first black General in the United States Air Force.Davis was commander of the famed Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. He will be inducted into the Paul
E. Garber First Flight Shrine at Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17, 2022.


More information about FFS Honorary Members can be found at www.firstflight.org.


More information about the Wright Brothers Day event can be found at www.wrightbrothersday.org.

Make Plans to Celebrate Wright Brothers Day 2022!

Save the date! December 17th, 2022 is the 119th anniversary of powered flight. The First Flight Society will be honoring Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. as the 2022 Paul E Garber Shrine inductee. The Shrine is located in the Museum and Visitors Center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, USA.

This honor is selected annually by a high-level panel appointed by the First Flight Society, from among numerous nominations submitted from around the world as well as compiled lists of qualified candidates. The induction ceremony will be held on Wright Brothers Day, December 17, 2022, with a celebration luncheon also held that day in Kitty Hawk. A portrait of General Davis will be unveiled and presented at the ceremony on December 17th.

The FFS Annual Luncheon will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn OBX/Kitty Hawk at 12:00 noon on the 17th. The luncheon will consist of a sit down meal and speakers from the USAF and the Davis family. The luncheon is open to everyone and tickets are available in the Wright Brothers Day Store. FFS will recognize our 2022, 2021 and 2020 Classes of Honorary Members. The Class of 2022 is Zara Rutherford, Nicole Malachowski, Jerry Yagen and Gregory Kavalec. The Class of 2021 is Mark Baker, Rob Holland, and Tom Crouch. The Class of 2020 is Charles McGee, Gail Halvorsen, Patty Wagstaff, Sean Tucker and Dick Rutan. The 2022 Class of Honorary members was announced on November 19th, 2022.

The First Flight Society is proud and honored to have all of these luminaries as new Honorary Members.

Flash Sweepstakes Prize for the P-51 Ride

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Enter for Your Chance to Win a ride in a P-51 Mustang + this Wooden Display Model!

Win this P-51D Mustang “Big Beautiful Doll” Model of the aircraft flown by Colonel John D LandersCommanding Officer of the 78th Fighter Group, 8th USAAF between February and June 1945. (Scale: 1/24, Wingspan 15 inches)
RETAIL VALUE $170
Ride Award is on! Enter by Oct 31 with Promo Code WINME for 25% Bonus and a chance to win a Sporty’s P-51 Model!

Enter today for your chance to fly in a WWII P-51 Fighter!

This is your chance to fly in the same type of aircraft as some of our First Flight Society Honorees such as Brig. Gen. Charles Yeager, USAF, the “Red Tail” Tuskegee airmen, including Gen. Benjamin Davis, USAF (the 2022 Honoree), and Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, USAF, as well as such other famous National Shrine Honorees as Col. Jacqueline Cochran, USAF (Former WASP), and Maj. Gen. Robert White, USAF. The First Flight Society is offering an exhilarating P-51 flight experienc in “Red Nose” operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Georgia. The winner can schedule the experience up to 12 months after winning and the prize award includes $700 towards your expenses to travel to Peachtree City, GA for the experience. 

Click Here for More Information
Special Offer for members and friends of the First Flight Society! Use the promo code WINME for a chance to win the P-51 model and get  25% more tickets!
CAF Airbase Georgia’s P-51 Mustang “Red Nose”,  the aircraft you will fly in if you win the sweepstakes!
FLASH Contest! Enter to win your chance to Fly in a P-51 by October 31st and you will get a chance to win this P-51 Mustang model!

Use the promo code WINME to get 25% more free entries!
Entry amounts range from $25 for 10 tickets to $2000 for 2600 tickets!
Enter Now With Promo Code: WINME
All proceeds from this sweepstakes support the nonprofit First Flight Society dedicated to preserving the history of the Wright Brothers. Your support ensures that the society can continue to share this history with you and the public. Thank you! 
Promo code can not be applied to previous donations. 
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Celebrate National Aviation Day with First Flight Society on August 19, 2022

NAD 2021

The First Flight Society announced the 4th annual National Aviation Day at Dare County Regional Airport on August 19th, 2022. The event runs from 10AM-3PM and features Airplane Displays, Exhibitors, and Food Trucks. The mission of the celebration is to provide a fun and educational experience promoting, honoring, and celebrating the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and helping educate the world about aviation. NAD is a free event aimed at all ages.

NAD is also Orville Wright’s birthday. Former president Franklin D. Roosevelt was the creator of National Aviation Day, deciding for the first time in 1939 that the nation should celebrate the growth and advancements being made in aviation.

Our keynote speaker will be historian Larry Tise. His presentation is titled “The Elusive Orville Wright from Kitty Hawk and Beyond.

Another highlight will be Warbird rides. To combine the First Flight Society observation of National Aviation Day and the mission of the Commemorative Air Force, the Capital Wing will bring the queen of its fleet, a TBM-3E Avenger named “Doris Mae” on August 19th and 20th and provide warbird rides to the public. Advance purchases of rides in the TBM can be made online at: www.capitalwingwarbirdrides.org.

Confirmed exhibitors include Kitty Hawk Kites, Civil Air Patrol, Military Aviation Museum, Elizabeth City State University, Dare County Radio Control Flyers, AOPA, Dare County and Tubbs Hot Dogs.

Dare County Regional airport (MQI) is located at 410 Airport Road, Manteo, NC 27954.

Additional information can be found at www.nationalaviationday.org.

The Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association, later named First Flight Society, began as a group of local businessmen who successfully petitioned the US Congress to fund and build a monument to the Wright Brothers’ 1903 achievement.

The FFS plans an annual celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17th to memorialize the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC.

First Flight Society Celebrates Wilbur Wright Day 2022 On April 16th

The First Flight Society announced the 1st annual Wilbur Wright Day at Currituck County Regional Airport on April 16th, 2022. The event runs from 12PM-3PM and features historian Larry Tise and other speakers.

FFS will display the winning artwork of the 2022 FFS Youth Aviation Art Contest. The society will also introduce the first four teachers they are sponsoring for classes leading to Continuing Education Credits from Sally Ride Science at the University of California-San Diego.

Come visit displays from the First Flight Society and Civil Air Patrol among others. All children will receive an aviation activity booklet from FFS sponsor, AOPA.

This will also be the launch day of the First Flight Society Kids Club www.ffskidsclub.com focusing on youth aviation education for elementary aged children 6-12 years old.  

Other speakers include Currituck historian Barbara Snowden and Paul Carr as The Spirit of Wilbur Wright. Mr. Tise will also be signing books after his presentation.                                              

The mission of the celebration is to provide a fun and educational experience celebrating the life of Wilbur Wright and helping educate the world about aviation. WWD is Wilbur Wright’s birthday and a free event aimed at all ages.

Presentations will be in classrooms of the College of the Albemarle-Currituck at the Currituck County Regional airport (ONX). COA-Currituck is located at 107 College Way, Barco, NC 27917.

Additional information can be found at www.nationalaviationday.org/wilbur-wright-day.

First Flight Society 2022 Young Artist Contest


Firsts in Aviation and Aerospace – Use Your Imagination!
The First Flight Society invited Northeastern North Carolina students to participate in our 2022 Young Artist Contest.


The Contest is an opportunity for Young Artists in Camden, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pasquotank and Tyrrell Counties to express themselves artistically according to the selected theme.


Teachers also have an excellent starting point to teach students about the legacy of Wilbur and Orville Wright in North Carolina.

Participating Young Artists are urged to let their artistic talents
and their imagination soar to create their own personal vision of a person, aircraft or flight system that was a first in aviation.

Each year the First Flight Society recognizes a person who has
made an outstanding contribution to the great world of aviation. In 2022, the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine honoree will be Benjamin O. Davis, commander of the Tuskegee Airmen
— The first African American fighter group in World War II.

Rules for participation in the First Flight Society’s 2022 Young Artist Aviation Contest.

Eligibility: Children enrolled in the following grades are encouraged to participate in the appropriate category listed.


Category I Students in Grades K-2

Category II Students in Grades 3-5

Category III Students in Grades 6-8

Category IV Students in Grades 9-12

The winners will be displayed at the Wilbur Wright Day event at COA-Currituck on April 16th.

We are Accepting Nominations for the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine for 2023

Honorees for the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine are selected annually by our National Advisory Committee from a list of nominees submitted to the First Flight Society and passed to the Committee for consideration.  The nominee(s) may but does not have to be a “first” but rather “…a person, living or dead, who since December 17, 1903, either personally or with the assistance of others, has made such outstanding accomplishments in manned flight that they are generally recognized nationally and internationally for their achievements and contributions to aviation.”  Nominees are kept on file for immediate or future consideration. Enclosed is the Nomination Form for the 2023 Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine Inductee, which can be emailed with any supporting documents to: admin@firstflight.org or mailed as indicated on the form. Nominations are due April 30th, 2022. Please call our office if you have other questions.

Benjamin O. Davis Jr Selected as 2022 Paul E Garber Shrine Honoree.


The First Flight Society announced today that Benjamin O. Davis Jr., has been named the 2022 Honoree to be inducted into the Dr. Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine located in the Museum and Visitors Center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, USA.


This honor is selected annually by a high-level panel appointed by the First Flight Society, from among numerous nominations submitted from around the world as well as compiled lists of qualified candidates. The induction ceremony will be held on Wright Brothers Day, December 17, 2022, with a celebration banquet held on December 16, 2022 in Kitty Hawk. A portrait of Benjamin O. Davis Jr. will be unveiled and presented at the ceremony on December 17th, 2022, celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers First Flight.


Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was a United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American brigadier general in the USAF. Davis Jr was born December 18th, 1912 in Washington, DC. He earned a 1932 nomination to the U.S. Military Academy from Rep. Oscar S. De Priest (R-Ill.), then America’s only black congressman. He was the first African-American to be admitted to the Academy since Reconstruction.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army Air Corps to create a flying organization for African-American troops. Davis Jr., the only living black West Point graduate, was ordered from Ft. Benning, Ga., to Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. Davis would see the Tuskegee Airmen swell in ranks to 1,000 and form the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later the 332d Fighter Squadron. By the end of the war Davis had flown 60 combat missions and had been promoted to colonel.


Davis also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He ended his career as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Air Force. After retiring in 1970, he served as an assistant secretary at the Department of Transportation under President Richard M. Nixon. Davis died July 4th, 2002 at age 89.


William Douglas, Chairman of the First Flight Society’s National Advisory Committee, served as Chair of the Dr. Paul E. Garber Shrine Selection Panel and managed the selection process.


For more information about the Paul E Garber Shrine visit First Flight Society/ Paul Garber Shrine


Without the First Flight Society there would not be a Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association, later named First Flight Society, began as a group of local businessmen who successfully petitioned the US Congress to fund and build a monument to the Wright Brothers’ 1903 achievement.


The FFS plans an annual celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on December 17th mandated by their bylaws to memorialize the work of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC.


They created the Paul E Garber Shrine in 1966 to honor individuals and groups for achieving significant “firsts” in aviation development since 1903. Charles Lindbergh, Tuskegee Airmen, Mary Feik, John Glenn, Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures) and most recently astronaut Sally K. Ride among others.


First Flight Society promotes aviation education through an Aviation Education Committee to expand the knowledge of the Wright Brothers’ legacy by bringing aviation education programs to students in Dare County. They also offer an annual FFS Scholarship through Outer Banks Community Foundation for students pursuing aviation education in North Carolina.

Introducing the 2022 First Flight Society Board of Directors

KITTY HAWK, N.C.January 13, 2022 — The First Flight Society would like to announce its Board of Directors for 2022. Most of the directors are from North Carolina.

The newly elected Executive Committee consists of:

President-Mike Fonseca
1st Vice President-Dr Charles Davidson
2nd Vice President-William “Bill” Douglas
Treasurer-H Taylor Sugg
Secretary-Paul Carr

The rest of the 2022 board consists of :

Peter Bruemmer, Tony Bruno, Sara Lou Copeland, Danny Couch, M. Roy Daniels, III, David Daniels, Judith Fearing, Orestes Gooden, Barbara Gourley, Todd Huvard, Paul Wright Jameson, Penny Leary Smith, William Nelson, Doug Seay, Mike Smith, and Peregrine White.

Mike Smith is a former president of the 94 year old Society that started out as the Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association.

The FFS plans an annual celebration at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on Wright Brothers Day, December 17th mandated by their bylaws to memorialize the work of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC. First Flight Society also celebrates National Aviation Day on August 19th which is also Orville Wright’s birthday.

Without the First Flight Society there would not be a Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association, later named First Flight Society, began as a group of local businessmen who successfully petitioned the US Congress to fund and build a monument to the Wright Brothers’ 1903 achievement.

They created the Paul E Garber Shrine in 1966 to honor individuals and groups for achieving significant “firsts” in aviation development since 1903. (Charles Lindbergh, Tuskegee Airmen, Mary Feik, John Glenn, Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures) and most recently astrounaut Sally K Ride, among others.

First Flight Society promotes aviation education through an Aviation Education Committee to expand the knowledge of the Wright Brothers’ legacy by bringing aviation education programs to students in Dare County. They also offer an annual FFS Scholarship through Outer Banks Community Foundation for students pursuing aviation education in North Carolina.