2007 Press Releases

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Aviation Legends Present First-Time Author With Combs Gates Award During NBAA Convention

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or dhubbard@nbaa.org

ATLANTA, GA, September 25, 2007 – During the Opening General Session of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) 60th Annual Meeting & Convention this morning, Amanda Wright Lane with aviation legends Eugene Cernan and Bob Hoover presented historian and first-time author Jane Gardner Birch with the National Aviation Hall of Fame's (NAHF's) 2007 Combs Gates Award.

Birch received a $20,000 cash award for her soon-to-be-published book They Flew Proud, inspired by the World War II experience of her father, Gardner Birch, a flight instructor in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) at Grove City College and Airport in Pennsylvania. Her extensive research enabled her to outline, in book form, the big picture behind the seldom heralded CPTP – one of the largest federally funded vocational education programs in history.

They Flew Proud also shares many personal accounts of the personalities and pilots who comprised the CPTP, such as her father, who died in 1962, and includes the recollections of many living today. "A few will become notable, but most remain anonymous, yet everyone's contributions are important," wrote Birch in her award application.

Presenting the award on behalf of the NAHF at the Opening General Session of the NBAA Convention were great grand-niece of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Amanda Wright Lane; former astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, Eugene Cernan; and WWII fighter pilot, test pilot and air show legend, Bob Hoover. The Wright brothers, Cernan and Hoover are among the 195 enshrinees honored to date by the NAHF.

Joining them was John Gates who, along with his sister, Diane G. Wallach, is a co-trustee of the Gates Frontiers Fund created by their late parents, Charles C. and June S. Gates.

The Combs Gates Award is named in honor of Harry B. Combs, whose career included accomplishments as an aircraft designer, fixed base operator, flight instructor, entrepreneur and author, and Charles C. Gates, a philanthropist who was a partner with Combs in several aviation businesses, including Combs Gates FBO chain and Gates Learjet. The award has been presented at the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention each year since its creation in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight.

The Combs Award was established to encourage and support relevant aviation history research and preservation efforts. To find out more about the award, visit the NAHF web site at www.nationalaviation.org.

Learn more about NBAA 60th Annual Meeting & Convention activities at www.nbaa.org/2007.

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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 8,000 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 www.nbaa.org.

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