Several aviation heroes joined Rolls-Royce to recognize the winners of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, held in conjunction with the Reno National Championship Air Races. This year’s invitational kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 11, with the arrival of all competing vintage aircraft. Judging concluded on Sept. 13.
The National Aviation Heritage Invitational, founded in 1998, is a joint effort of Rolls-Royce North America Inc., the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Reno Air Racing Foundation, with support from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. On board for 2008 are new sponsors Air Transport World, Speed News and Airmail Greetings, who join in the commitment of honoring the nation’s aviation heritage.
The invitational is recognized as a premier traveling museum, providing aviation enthusiasts and the general public a unique opportunity to experience aviation history first-hand and see some of the rarest aircraft in the world. Open to any and all types of aircraft, such as gliders, helicopters and gyrocopters, it’s designed to encourage aviation history conservation, by requiring all vintage aircraft be in airworthy condition and restored to the very highest standards of workmanship, presentation and accuracy prior to competing. To be considered, the aircraft must be of a type flying at least 45 years prior to the year of entry and may not be a participant in air races. All aircraft applications are pre-screened prior to entering the annual competition.
Participating aircraft compete in three categories, antique (early aircraft pre-1935), classic (post 1935) and warbird, and are judged by a five-member panel. Each aircraft is evaluated on its technical merit and how well it represents the aircraft early in its career. Authenticity to the original manufacturer’s condition is the “gold standard” for each plane.
National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinees Gen. Bill Anders, Dick Rutan, Col. Bud Anderson and Bob Hoover assisted in the trophy presentations. Assistance was also given by Ron Kaplan, executive director of the NAHF; Linda Shiner, editor of Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine; Ken Perich, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational; Chris Cyr, executive vice president, Americas Customer Business, Rolls-Royce North America; and Mike Houghton, president and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Foundation.
Rolls-Royce provides the top prize in the annual competition. The Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy was presented at the Invitational Awards Ceremony at 10:05 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 14. The 2008 Grand Champion and recipient of the Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy is a 1944 North American P-51D Mustang owned by FTR ESC LLC of San Antonio, Texas, and restored by Midwest Aero Restorations Ltd.
The Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy has been presented to the overall winner of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational for the past nine years. It’s displayed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
The winner of the Orville and Wilbur Wright Trophy (antique) was a 1929 Curtiss Wright Travel Air SA6000A owned by John Seibold of Williams, Ariz., and restored by Jim Helfrish of Twin Otter Intl Ltd. and Chuck Wentworth at Antique Aero.
A 1960 G18S Beechcraft owned by Jim Warren of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and restored by Warren and Jeff Binger was the winner of the Paul E. Garber Trophy (classic).
The Henry “Hap” Arnold Trophy (Warbird) went to a 1943 North American P51B-10-NA owned by Historic Flight Foundation of Seattle and restored by Pacific Fighter (01/01/06-07/17/08- date of first flight).
The National Aviation Hall of Fame’s People’s Choice award winner was a 1929 Sikorsky S-38, Osa’s Ark, named for famed naturalists Martin and Osa Johnson. It garnered the most votes by the thousands of fans viewing the airplanes. The unique plane is owned by Tom Schrade of Reno and restored by Born Again Restorations of Owatonna, Minn.
This year, the invitational announced Look Up!, a new educational outreach program from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. A new Cirrus SR22 aircraft, dedicated to introducing young people to general aviation, is the centerpiece of Look Up! Visitors were able to board the aircraft, climb into the cockpit and explore the controls and avionics system. They also received information about the many career opportunities available in aviation from Katie Pribyl, GAMA’s director of communications.
“Through Look Up! and by partnering with Rolls-Royce and the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, GAMA hopes to give hundreds of young people an opportunity to experience aviation first-hand,” said Pribyl.
Cyr commented that a shortage of trained technical graduates is affecting every sector of the aerospace industry.
“Our mission is a nationwide campaign to encourage kids of all ages to explore careers in this great industry,” Cyr said.
Rolls-Royce has a long-standing tradition of philanthropy. Last year, Rolls-Royce North
America Inc. donated $2 million, its largest ever gift made, to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
On Sept. 12, Rolls-Royce pledged $75,000 to the invitational. The three-year pledge supports the invitational’s mission of encouraging the preservation of aviation history through the restoration of vintage aircraft. Chris Cyr presented the check to Houghton and Kaplan, representing the invitational’s co-founding sponsors.
“We’re delighted to be here today to support the National Aviation Heritage Invitational’s mission,” said Cyr. “Rolls-Royce is committed to help celebrate and preserve our nation’s aviation heritage for future generations, here and around the world.”
For more information on the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, visit [http://www.heritagetrophy.org]. For more information on Rolls-Royce, visit [http://www.rolls-royce.com].