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History of the Aviation Wall of Fame

2019 AVIATION WALL OF FAME INDUCTEE

CDR Alex C. Rucker, USN (ret.)

Commander Alex C. Rucker, USN (ret.) - VPI 1965

Branch: U.S. Navy

Bio: Commander Alex C. Rucker graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Geophysics. Upon graduation Commander Rucker earned his  commission into the Navy and attended the US Naval School of preflight before attending specialized training for his airframe, the F-8 Crusader. Commander Rucker completed three combat tours in Vietnam in the F-8 Crusader in support of operations Rolling Thunder and Linebacker II. During one of these tours in 1968, Commander Rucker assisted his wingman in a successful Mig-21 engagement. Later, Commander Rucker also served as a TOPGUN instructor of advanced air combat tactics in anticipation of the introduction of the F-14.  

Rattler
RFSS with CDR Rucker

PREVIOUS AVIATION WALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: Major General McMullen graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, then again in 1986 with a Masters in the same field of study. He received his commission through Officer Training School in March 1988. He is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and also served as an instructor pilot there. In 2001, he attended the Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and also graduated from the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., in 2006. He is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours in the F-15C, F-22A, MC-12W and the C-130J.

 

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: General Everhart received his commission in 1983 through the Air Force ROTC program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He is a command pilot with more than 4,700 flight hours in numerous aircraft including the C-130E/H, C-17A, C-21A and KC-46A. He was the Air Force aide to the president of the United States and has commanded a squadron, group, wing, air operations center, two numbered air forces, and a major command. General Everhart has served in several senior staff positions at the White House, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command, and Headquarters Air Education and Training Command. Prior to his current assignment, General Everhart was the Commander of Eighteenth Air Force, the Air Force’s largest numbered Air Force.

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: Brigadier General Young enlisted in the Air Force in October 1967, then was commissioned upon completing Officer Training School as a distinguished graduate in September 1968. He flew 150 combat missions over Southeast Asia during several temporary duty assignments, served on the faculty of the Air War College and held a staff position at the U.S. Army's Forces Command.

 

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: Lieutenant General Travis entered the Air Force in 1976 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was awarded his pilot wings in 1978 and served as an F-4 pilot and aircraft commander. The general completed his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine, where he was the top Air Force graduate, and in 1987 he became a flight surgeon. For more than three years, General Travis was Chief of Medical Operations for the Human Systems Program Office at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. He later served as the Director of Operational Health Support and Chief of Aerospace Medicine Division for the Air Force Medical Operations Agency in Washington, D.C. 

 

Bio: Dr. Kurzhals graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1960 and has been a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for 52 years. He has served on the Institute’s Technical Activities Committee (TAC) from 1989 to 2002 in various roles, including TAC Program Coordinator for Space Station and Director of Space and Information Systems. Dr. Kurzhals received a sustained service award from AIAA on September 28, at an awards luncheon held in conjunction with the AIAA SPACE 2011 Conference & Exposition. Kurzhals was recognized for his “half a century of dedicated service to the AIAA, including active participation at the student, section and national level with major aerospace contributions.”

For more info on Dr. Kurzhals, please click here.

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: Colonel Frank Ayers graduated from Virginia Tech and the Corps of Cadets in the Spring of 1974. Upon graduation, he entered active duty in the United States Air Force serving as a B-52 Pilot, Instructor Pilot, Commander of the 329th B-52 Combat Crew Training Squadron, Commander of Camp Phillips, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Commander of the 37th Combat Support Group, and Chief of Joint Military Education Policy at the Pentagon, among other assignments.

     Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 2000, Colonel Ayers joined Embry Riddle Aeronautical University as a Professor of Aeronautical Science. He was the recipient of the University Aviation Association's 2005 Frank E. Sorenson Award, for "the professional educator who has made substantial contributions to the field of aviation research and scholarship."  In 2009, Dr Ayers became the 7th Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the Prescott Arizona Campus, of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. In 2019, he returned to his first love, teaching, as a full time professor.

     Dr. Ayers has earned a B.A. in History from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and an Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. He is a graduate of the Harvard University, Senior Leaders in Government course and the University of Southern California, Aircraft Accident Investigation Course.  He is the holder of an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, with type ratings in the Boeing 757 and 767, and is a certified flight instructor. Ayers has logged more than 6,300 flight hours in a wide variety of aircraft types.

     Dr. Ayers has been married to his wife Debbie (a 1975 graduate and former Air Force officer, who was one of the first three women to enter the VTCC, and the first woman to receive a commission as a cadet) for over 44 years.

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1954

 

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1954

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: A native of Virginia and a graduate of Virginia Tech, General Smith entered the Air Force in 1970 after completing Officer Training School. He has more than 13 years in command during war and peace. He commanded two fighter wings and led two air expeditionary force deployments to Southwest Asia: AEF III and the 4th Air Expeditionary Wing. He served as the Commander of 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander, ROK and U.S. Combined Forces Command Korea; and Deputy Commander U.S. Forces Korea. The general also served two tours at the Pentagon and was Commandant of the NATO School at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Commandant of the Air War College and Commander of the Air Force Doctrine Center. Prior to his current assignment, he was Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Branch: U.S. Marine Corps Reserves

Graduated: VPI 1948

 

Branch: U.S. Army Reserves

Graduated: VPI 1960

 

Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps

Graduated: VPI 1945

For more information about Mr. Lee, please click here.

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Bio: Major General Smyth received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University in 1949. He went on to accrue over 7,000 hours of flying time in over 60 aircraft. The aircraft included military fighter planes, interceptors, transport, troop carrier, tanker, rotorcraft-helicopter and FAA commercial planes. During his military career he served in Korea, Japan, SE Asia and Europe. From 1967 to 1977 he completed twenty-five deployments to Europe serving as either the Operations Officer or Commander of Operation Creek Party. He was in continuous flight status from 1951 to 1984.

 

Branches: U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force

Bio: General Richards' military career began with the Army infantry in 1948. He served as a platoon sergeant during the Korean War and was wounded twice. He received a commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1956. General Richards entered pilot training and earned his wings at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, in 1957. After combat crew training he was assigned as a B-47 co-pilot with the Strategic Air Command's 19th Bombardment Wing, Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., from December 1958 to February 1961.

 

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1949

Branches: U.S. Army Air Corps/ U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1939

Branches: U.S. Army Air Corps/ U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1959

Bio: Major General Kucheman was born in Baltimore, Md., in 1919. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, Richmond, Va., in 1937, and then attended two years of study in engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He was employed for two years as a senior engineering draftsman, Virginia Department of Highways, Richmond, Va., then enlisted in the Army Air Corps in July 1941. After aviation cadet training at Hicks, Goodfellow, and Kelly fields in Texas, he received his pilot wings and commissioned as second lieutenant in February 1942.

For more information on Major General Kucheman, please click here.

Branches: U.S. Army Air Corps/ U.S. Air Force

Graduated: VPI 1941

Graduated: VPI 1961

Branch: U.S. Army

Graduated: VPI 1964

To learn more about this esteemed Virginia Tech graduate, please click here.

Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps

Bio: Second Lieutenant Robert Femoyer joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps as a private at Roanoke, Va., Nov. 11 1942. He was called to active duty the following February and took basic training at Miami Beach, Fla. He became an aviation cadet in July 1943. He failed pilot training at the Mississippi Institute of Aeronautics at Jackson, Miss., but in 1944, graduated from the Army Air Force Flexible Gunnery School at Fort Myers, Fla., and the AAF Navigation School at Selman Field, La. He went to the European Theater in September 1944 as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the 447th Bomb Group's 711th Squadron. Six weeks later, as navigator of a bomber on a mission near Merseburg, Germany, he was killed in action Nov. 2, earning the nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Second Lieutenant Femoyer is one of seven Medal of Honor recipients to have graduated from Virginia Tech. To read more about his story, please click here.

Branch: U.S. Navy

Bio: Lieutenant Junior Grade McKay was an American naval officer, World War II pilot, aeronautical engineer, and test pilot. He was one of twelve pilots who flew the North American X-15, an experimental spaceplane jointly operated by the United States Air Force and NASA. On September 28, 1965, he flew the X-15 to an altitude above 50 miles, thereby qualifying him as an astronaut according to the United States definition of the boundary of space. However, this altitude did not surpass the Karman Line, the internationally accepted boundary of 100 kilometers (62 miles). LTJG McKay graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering. During World War II he served as a Navy pilot in the Pacific Theater, earning the Air Medal and Two Clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation. 

To read more about LTJG McKay, please click here.