Former Cessna chair, Tuskegee CFI to join hall of fame

December 19, 2012

A former Cessna chairman who used money from air racing prizes to meet payroll during the Depression is among the inductees to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the board of trustees announced Dec. 17.

The late Dwane L. Wallace, former Cessna Aircraft Co. chairman and CEO and nephew of Clyde Cessna, directed development and growth of corporate and general aviation product lines during 41 years with the company. He will join retired Navy Capt. Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, an astronaut and air racer; late Tuskegee Airmen mentor Charles Alfred Anderson; and retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady, a Medal of Honor helicopter pilot, as inductees enshrined at a ceremony in October 2013.

After Cessna closed in the early 1930s because of the Depression, Wallace persuaded his uncle to reorganize the company and make him a general manager at the age of 23, according to a New York Times obituary upon Wallace’s death in 1989. An aeronautical engineer, Wallace set out to create the C-34, which later became the series of Airmasters. A C-34 won the Detroit News Trophy Race; and Wallace flew another C-34 to victory in the Detroit News race at the 1936 All American Races at Miami. Wallace retired from Cessna in 1975. He also was founder and first chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Gibson, a former Navy fighter pilot and “Top Gun” graduate, flew combat in Southeast Asia and served as a test pilot before joining the NASA astronaut corps in 1978, the hall of fame said in a media release. He flew five space shuttle missions, four of them as commander, and was on the Challenger accident investigation team, it added. Gibson holds a number of world records with the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale and also is an aeronautical engineer and air racer. He has logged more than 14,000 hours in more than 130 types of aircraft, according to the media release.

Anderson, widely recognized as the “father of African-American aviation,” helped develop a civilian pilot training program for African-Americans at the Tuskegee Institute. “His 1941 flight with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt aboard was the catalyst that led to the training of the first African American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, for whom Anderson served as chief instructor,” the release said.

Brady, who served more than 34 years in the Army, developed foul weather and tactical techniques for helicopter air ambulance rescue in combat. During two Vietnam War combat tours, he flew more than 2,500 missions and rescued more than 5,000 wounded, according to the hall of fame. He earned many service awards, including the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.

The names of the incoming enshrines were unveiled at a dinner in celebration of the 109th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight. The four will join 215 air and space pioneers who have been inducted since the hall of fame’s founding in 1962,