HOUSTON, Texas — Officials at the Lone Star Flight Museum (LSFM) have revealed the names of the five new inductees into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.
The Texas Aviation Hall of Fame was established in 1995 to honor and recognize Texans and Texas companies or organizations that have made significant and lasting contributions to the advancement of aviation. There are currently 71 members in the Hall of Fame.
The five new members were selected from more than 100 nominees by a panel of aviation historians, experts and the LSFM Board. This year’s honorees are: Captain James Lovell, Congressman Sam Johnson, Azellia White, Brigadier General Noel Parrish (1909-1987), and Thomas (1883-1954) and Paul (1887-1954) Braniff.
The Class of 2018 will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at the Lone Star Flight Museum’s 2018 “Flights of Fancy” Gala to be held in the museum’s new, $38 million home at Houston’s Ellington Airport, which opened in September 2017.
Captain James Lovell
After attending the United States Naval Academy and serving several assignments as a Naval Aviator flying F2H Banshee fighters, Jim Lovell transitioned to a career as a Navy test pilot. Due to the high degree of skill and professionalism demanded of test pilots, NASA often sought them as recruits for the space program. Lovell joined the second class of NASA astronauts in 1962 and participated in the Gemini and Apollo programs. He flew four space missions, including two to the Moon.
He is remembered most as the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. The six-day mission in April of 1970 was hailed a “successful failure” after the crew of three, led by Lovell, returned safely in a critically damaged spacecraft.
After his retirement from the Navy and NASA in 1973, Lovell settled in Houston, where his astronaut training had taken place, and continued to work in the private sector.
Congressman Sam Johnson
Prior to his 27 years of service as a Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Sam Johnson was a United States Air Force Colonel and decorated fighter pilot. Johnson is a combat veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He flew 62 combat missions in Korea and downed a MiG-15 while flying the F-86 Sabre. Between his service in the two conflicts, Johnson flew F-100 Super Sabres with the Air Force’s precision demonstration team, the Thunderbirds.
On Aug. 16, 1966, while on his 25th combat mission over Vietnam, Johnson’s F-4 Phantom II was shot down and he spent seven years as a prisoner of war, including 42 months in solitary confinement. After his release in 1973, he returned to his home state of Texas and established a real estate business, but his thoughts turned again to public service.
Johnson served in the Texas House of Representatives for over five years, beginning in 1985 and assumed his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991, where he has been re-elected continuously since. As an elected official, he has championed causes for his electorate and veteran’s rights. He will retire from Congress this year.
Born in Gonzales, Texas in 1913, Azellia White followed her husband Hulon “Pappy” White to Alabama as he pursued a career as a mechanic with the Tuskegee Airmen. While at Tuskegee Field, White took to training and flying in a Taylorcraft airplane and earned her pilot’s license in 1946. She would frequently take trips around the South in pursuit of better shopping opportunities. At the completion of World War II, White and her husband returned to Texas. White continued to fly and, along with her husband and two other Tuskegee Airmen, started the Sky Ranch Flying Service in South Houston.
Sky Ranch served as an airport for the segregated black community and provided instruction to veterans interested in flying. The company closed its doors in 1948 but the pioneering aspect of Sky Ranch made its mark on the community. Mrs. White continues to serve as an inspiration to aspiring aviators and the Aviation Science Lab at Houston’s Sterling High School is named in her honor.
Brigadier General Noel Parrish (1909-1987)
Noel Parrish graduated from Rice Institute (today Rice University) in 1928 and enlisted in the United States Army in 1930. His service took him all around the country, including Fort Crockett, near Galveston, with the 13th Attack Squadron, and to Randolph Field as a flying instructor. In 1941, Parrish was assigned the role of Assistant Director of Training of the Eastern Flying Training Command at Maxwell Field, Alabama, where he oversaw the “Tuskegee Experiment.” Choosing to forego combat duty, Parrish took command of the Tuskegee Army Airfield in December of 1942. The field was the home base for training of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. Parrish is remembered for his willingness to call out blatant racism against black aviators and the steps he took to desegregate the airfield. After his military retirement in 1964, Parrish returned to Houston and obtained master’s and doctorate degrees in history from Rice.
Thomas (1883-1954) and Paul (1887-1954) Braniff
Brothers from Kansas, Tom and Paul, were the founders of Braniff Airways. Paul’s plan to use fast airplanes with short turnaround times quickly found favor with his brother Tom and other investors. Braniff Airways was officially formed in November 1930 with passenger and airmail flights between Oklahoma and Texas using two Lockheed Vegas.
By 1934, Braniff had moved its base of operations and maintenance from Oklahoma City to Dallas; the administrative offices followed in 1942. The company continued to grow through mergers and expansion with flights across the United States and South America. While both Braniff brothers died in 1954, the airline continued under various names and leadership until 1982.