Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame taking in Thunderbirds

Like they have for 59 years, Thunderbird pilots of the Air Force aerial demonstration squadron will again streak across the sky in red, white and blue jets at air shows across the country.

But this year before they wrap up the last of two Aviation Nation shows at Nellis Air Force Base on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, they will land a spot in the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame. They will lead the 2012 class of eight aviation legends who will be enshrined in a ceremony on Nov. 7 at the base’s Officers Club, hall officials announced this week.

“This is a very major event,” said T.D. Barnes, director and co-founder of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.

“As far as I know, we are the only state that has recognized an organization such as the Thunderbirds. We’re setting a high-water mark that other states are starting to follow,” Barnes said Friday, referring to states such as Arizona, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, that have recognized famous aviators for many years.

Nevada’s 2012 class of will bring to 25 the enshrinees in the Aerospace Hall of Fame since the inaugural class in 2010.

The Thunderbirds team, known as “America’s ambassadors in blue,” is steeped in tradition and is regarded as a valuable recruiting tool to inspire young men and women to join the Air Force.

The Thunderbirds have performed in more than 4,000 air shows in 59 years, and the team has been based at Nellis for the past 55 years. The team has entertained crowds in all 50 states and 60 foreign countries. The team was established on May 25, 1953, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Its first leader was Maj. Dick “Smokey” Catledge.

In an excerpt from “We Rode the Thunder,” by Bob Gore, Catledge recalled an encounter with famous test pilot Maj. Chuck Yeager while at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas.

“As head of the group of F-80s and T-33s that went with us, he flew one of the T-33s, which was the trainer version of the F-80. On the morning of our departure, Yeager said, ‘Let’s go.’

“Major Charles Chennault protested, asking, ‘Shouldn’t we have a briefing?’

“Yeager looked at him and said, ‘Oh, yeah. I tell you what. The first one to the end of the runway is the leader,’ and off he went. I could tell it was going to be an interesting trip.”

Luke Air Force Base had a contest to name the team. The winner would receive a savings bond and a paid weekend in Las Vegas.

“We received about 100 entries, and 25 percent of them chose ‘Thunderbirds.’ It seemed everything was named Thunderbird in Phoenix. Too common. We rejected it. We would be … the Stardusters,” Catledge said in a 2003 interview.

The team later adopted the name Thunderbirds, befitting the Southwestern culture where they were based and representative of the American Indian legend of a giant eagle or hawk that commanded great fear and respect. For logistical reasons, the team moved to Nellis Air Force Base in 1956 when it began flying supersonic, F-100 Super Sabres. Today the Thunderbirds fly F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The other enshrinees in the Hall of Fame class of 2012 are the following:

■ Randall T. Henderson, an early barnstormer who Hall of Fame officials think is the first person to fly into Las Vegas. He served in North Africa during World War II.

■ Maurice F. Graham, a World War I aviator and hero of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. A pilot who delivered the first air mail letters to Las Vegas, he died in a blizzard during an air mail flight.

■ Jess C. Harris, an early mechanic for the ail mail service who was a Lockheed test pilot during World War II and the first sheriff in Nevada to routinely use aviation for law enforcement.

■ Robert W. Bussard, designer of nuclear thermal rocket engines tested in Nevada and inventor of the Bussard ramjet.

■ William Park, the first pilot to fly the A-12, YB-12 and SR-71 Blackbirds more than Mach 3 above 80,000 feet. He flew 112 combat missions in the Korean War and later flew the first flight of Lockheed’s Have Blue stealth fighter prototype at Groom Lake.

■ Francis J. Murray, a CIA A-12 pilot for Groom Lake’s Project Oxcart. He flew 67 combat missions in Vietnam and was awarded the CIA’s highest award for flights over North Vietnam and North Korea.

■ David L. Ferguson, a Vietnam War veteran with more than 100 combat missions. He was a U-2 test pilot, a Lockheed YF-117A test pilot and chief test pilot of the YF-22A program in Nevada.

Anyone who would like to become a member of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame nonprofit organization to support its mission to educate and preserve the state’s aerospace history can go to

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@review or 702-383-0308.

NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like