A number of aviation heroes joined Rolls-Royce in recognizing the winners of the Western Regional of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational held in conjunction with the Reno National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev.
A 1948 Luscombe Sedan 11A, owned and restored by Kent and Sandy Blankenburg, was awarded the 2005 Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy as the top overall winner at the invitational. The Heritage Trophy is displayed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Nearly 20 aircraft vied for awards.
Bill Allen’s 1930 Stearman C3R, restored by Ragtime Aero, won in the Antique Category (Orville and Wilbur Wright Trophy. A 1948 Cessna 195 owned by Mike Meloche and restored by Meloche Aviation took top honors in the Classic Category (Paul E. Garber Trophy).
In the Warbird Category (Henry “Hap” Arnold Trophy), the winner was a 1955 North American F-100D Super Sabre owned by Steve Harjer and restored by McClellan Airport Center. The National Aviation Hall of Fame’s People’s Choice Award winner was a 1953 Douglas AD-5 (A-1E) Skyraider owned by Danny Summers and restored by Pacific Fighters-Fighter Rebuilders.
Assisting in the presentations were aviation legends such as Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon; General John “Jack” Daily (USMC, Ret.), director of the National Air and Space Museum; Donald Lopez, deputy director of the Air and Space Museum; Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, chairman and CEO of ILFC; Ron Kaplan, executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame; Capt. Gene Cernan, NAHF enshrinee and last man to walk on the moon; and Ken Perich, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational and vice president of market development at Rolls-Royce.
In addition to the awards ceremony, Rolls-Royce was recognized for its continued support of the Reno National Championship Air Races. Reno Mayor Robert Cashell and City Manager Charles McNeely presented Rolls-Royce with an official proclamation and designation of September 18 as Rolls-Royce Day in the City of Reno.
The National Aviation Heritage Invitational encourages preservation of aviation history through the restoration of aircraft to original flying condition. The invitational is a joint effort under the partnership of Rolls-Royce North America, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Reno Air Racing Association and was founded in 1998. A five-member panel, including representatives of the National Air and Space Museum, judges each aircraft 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.