Early aviators of Utah were among the nation's best. Their achievements and influence helped the Army Air Corps to locate the "Rocky Mountain Air Depot" -- today's Ogden Air Logistics Center -- here in 1940. Through bravery and other extraordinary individual qualities, Utahns helped, and continue to help, advance aviation for the betterment of society. They made substantial contributions to the development of both early American air power and commerce.
Some of the 23 current members of the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame were such aviation pioneers. Officially established by the governor of Utah in 1996, the Hall of Fame recognizes individuals of Utah who distinguished themselves through heroic accomplishments as civil or military aviators or by fostering exceptionally noteworthy advances in aviation programs.
Russell Lowell Maughan, of Logan, Utah (1893-1958), served with distinction, initially with the 139th Pursuit Squadron during World War I. He shot down four enemy aircraft and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest combat award. In October 1922, he won the National Air Races Pulitzer Race, setting a world speed record of over 200 mph in his Curtiss biplane. In 1923, also as a lieutenant, Maughan won the Fairfield Race. On June 23, 1924, he became the first pilot to fly coast-to-coast in a day.
Maughan went on to serve as the Secretary of Aviation and Consultant to the Philippine Cabinet from 1930 to 1932, flying from Nichols Field at the same time that our base's namesake, Ployer P. Hill, flew from that field in the Philippines. In 1939, Maughan surveyed and selected airfields for the first secret transport routes through Greenland and Iceland to Great Britain. During World War II, he led both troop carrier and bomber Groups on combat missions over Europe.
Some members of the Hall of Fame were especially instrumental in the development of civil aviation. For example, Jacob Edwin Garn (1893-1971), the father of former U.S. Sen. "Jake" Garn of Utah and an astronaut (also a member of the Hall of Fame), earned the first pilot's license issued in the state and was responsible for planning Utah's first airports, including the one in Salt Lake City and others along the nation's first transcontinental airmail route.
Robert H. Hinckley (1891-1988), of Fillmore, started Pacific Airways in Ogden in 1927. In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed him to the Civil Aeronautics Authority, or CAA, the forerunner of the Federal Aviation Administration. Hinckley's first project was to oversee construction of Washington National Airport in the nation's capital. In 1939, the president appointed him chairman of the CAA and called upon him to make a reality of Hinckley's greatest dream for aviation: an educational base from which aviation could grow. This vision was manifested in the Civilian Pilot Training Program. It enlisted the support of colleges and universities to provide ground and flight training for young men and women to build not only the basis for military pilots, but for pilots to enter private and commercial aviation as well. By the end of June 1942, some 435 institutions of higher learning had helped to train more than 98,000 pilots. Many of them went on to serve in World War II.
For more information, visit the Hill Aerospace Museum Web site.