Benjamin O. Davis, Jr Selected as 2022 Inductee
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 https://firstflight.org/first-flight-shrine/
FFS 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.
More information about the First Flight Society can be found at https://firstflight.org
Sally Ride Selected as 2021 Inductee
Sally Ride was the first American woman to fly in space.
Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951, in California. After high school, she went to Stanford University in California. She earned degrees in physics. NASA began looking for women astronauts in 1977. Sally Ride decided to apply for the job and she was one of six women picked.
Dr. Ride was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, she completed a one-year training and evaluation period, making her eligible for assignment as a Mission Specialist on future space shuttle flight crews. She subsequently performed as an on-orbit Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) on the STS-2 and STS-3 missions.
Dr Ride was a Mission Specialist on STS-7 in 1983 and STS-41-G in 1984. On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space. Sally’s second shuttle flight made history as the first space mission with two female crew members. When Challenger blasted off for STS-41G on Oct. 5, 1984, Sally was joined by Kathryn Sullivan.
Ride stopped working for NASA in 1987. She started teaching at the University of California in San Diego. She started looking for ways to help women and girls who wanted to study science and mathematics. She came up with the idea for NASA’s EarthKAM project. EarthKAM lets middle school students take pictures of Earth using a camera on the International Space Station. Students then study the pictures.
In 2003, Ride was added to the Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Astronaut Hall of Fame honors astronauts for their hard work.
Until her death on July 23, 2012, Ride continued to help students. A long-time advocate for improved science education, Dr. Ride has written five science books for children. She worked with science programs and festivals around the United States.