Trio of Aviation Legends Presents Author With Combs Gates Award During NBAA Convention

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or

ORLANDO, FL, October 17, 2006 – During the Opening General Session of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) 59th Annual Meeting & Convention this morning, aviation legends Eugene Cernan, Bob Hoover and Joe Kittinger presented aerospace historian and author Richard Hallion with the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s (NAHF’s) 2006 Combs Gates Award.

Hallion received a $20,000 cash award for his extensive research on a book project titled High Enterprise: America and Aerial Competitiveness in the Golden Age of Flight, 1919-1939. The book documents America’s post-WWI role in the aviation industry and how its aeronautical lead was regained in the face of foreign competition. A former museum curator and U.S. Air Force historian, Hallion has previously authored over a dozen books that chronicle American developments in air and space exploration in both military and civil arenas.

Presenting the award on behalf of the NAHF at the Opening General Session of the Convention were former astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, Eugene Cernan; WWII fighter pilot, test pilot and air show legend, Bob Hoover; and record-setting test pilot and Vietnam War POW, Joe Kittinger. The three are among the 190 enshrinees honored to date by the NAHF.

Previously known as the Combs Award, the Combs Gates Award is named in honor of the late Harry B. Combs and the late Charles Gates. It has been presented at the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention each year since its creation in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.

Combs’s illustrious career included accomplishments as an aircraft designer, fixed base operator, flight instructor, entrepreneur and author. As part of his generous $1.3 million gift for the creation of an NAHF research center, Combs stipulated that the Combs Award be established to encourage and support relevant aviation history research and preservation efforts.

In 2006, the name of the award was changed from the Combs Award to the Combs Gates Award to additionally honor Charles Gates, who was a partner with Combs in several businesses including Combs Gates FBO chain and Gates Learjet. This year marks the fourth year for the award but the first with the name changed to reflect a multi-year commitment by the Gates family to fund the award.

The Combs Gates Award pays homage to Combs’s own research efforts behind his acclaimed 1979 book, Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secrets of the Wright Brothers, and to Gates’s belief in the benefit of historic preservation and study.

To find out more about the award or to secure an application for next year’s Combs Gates Award, contact the NAHF Harry B. Combs Research Department at (937) 256-0944, ext. 18 or visit

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 7,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at