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EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame Ceremony
EAA is proud to honor new inductees into our Sport Aviation Halls of Fame at a dinner ceremony on November 11, 2021, in the Eagle Hangar of the EAA Aviation Museum. These inductees, representing ultralights, the International Aerobatic Club, the Vintage Aircraft Association, Warbirds of America, and homebuilding, have dedicated their lives to their respective areas of aviation and join an esteemed group of individuals who represent the spirit of EAA in the highest form.
We will be honoring inductees for both 2020 and 2021.
For questions, please contact Brenda Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-426-6581.
2021 Inductee Information
EAA is proud to honor five new inductees into our Sport Aviation Halls of Fame. The five inductees, representing homebuilders, ultralights, the International Aerobatic Club, the Vintage Aircraft Association, and Warbirds of America, have dedicated their lives to their respective areas of aviation and join an esteemed group of individuals who represent the spirit of EAA in the highest form.
Homebuilders: Flo and Bob Irwin, EAA 183082
In 1956, Flo and Bob Irwin founded Fullerton Air Parts in Southern California. Bob was an active pilot, and Flo had good business sense and a passion for service. After several years, the Irwins sold that business and started a new one in 1965 — Aircraft Spruce. While the company initially sold only the timber mentioned in the name, it quickly grew into a one-stop shop for homebuilders and restorers, and was renamed Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. Starting with just Flo and Bob in 1965, today the company employs more than 150 people.
Bob owned and flew a Vultee BT-13B, a 1948 Navion, and a 1968 Navion Rangemaster that he used to travel until he retired from flying after 50 years as a pilot. The Aircraft Spruce catalog is to generations of homebuilders what the Sears “wish book” was to a generation of kids — a sort of magic shopping list that overflows with the stuff dreams are made of.
Flo died in 1989, and Bob followed in 2015 at age 95. The Irwins’ legacy of service, quality products, and passionate dedication to the aviation community lives on as their children and grandchildren continue the family business in the form of both Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. and ACS Products Co., which manufactures products distributed by Aircraft Spruce.
Ultralights: Roy Beisswenger, EAA 537298
Roy Beisswenger began flying powered parachutes in 1993, began instructing that same year, and became the first sport pilot, flight instructor, and FAA designated pilot examiner for the category in 2005. He is the only FAA Gold Seal flight instructor to have earned the recognition exclusively through training powered parachute pilots. He organized the World Powered Parachute Championships in 2000 and continued the event for five years, attracting competitors from four continents. Also in 2000, Roy started the UltraFlight Radio Show, which became the Powered Sport Flying Radio Show, which he hosted for 10 years. In 2009 Beisswenger took over publishing UltraFlight Magazine, which he continues to help produce under its new name of Powered Sport Flying Magazine. He helped author the FAA’s Powered Parachute Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-29) and then wrote and illustrated his own 472-page book on the subject.
Roy serves on many sport aviation focused organizations, including as president of the United States Ultralight Association, a board member of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, and the powered parachute subcommittee chairman for ASTM. Roy served as the United States delegate to CIMA, the committee of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale pertaining to microlight activity around the world. There he helped set competition and record-setting policies for the sport on a worldwide basis.
International Aerobatic Club: Kirby Chambliss, EAA 261512, IAC 12086
As a child, Kirby Chambliss was always playing with toy airplanes and at just 13 years old started flying. When he was 21, he flew as a corporate pilot for the La Quinta hotel chain, and through that job, he was sent to a 10-hour aerobatic course with Duane Cole to train in a Decathlon. At that point his love of aerobatics became an obsession. By 24, he was the youngest commercial pilot at Southwest Airlines and made captain by 28. Although he enjoyed flying commercial, it became a means to pay for his true love for aerobatics.
Kirby joined the IAC in 1986 and entered his first contest. He placed first in the Intermediate category in his first aerobatic airplane, a Pitts Special S-2A. That same year he began flying air shows, continuously training to perfect his aerobatic skills and routines. Kirby modeled much of his aggressive flying style after his hero Leo Loudenslager, seven-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion and 1980 World Aerobatic Champion.
He earned a spot on the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team from 1997 to 2005 and served as team captain three times. He won his first U.S. National Unlimited Champion title in 1998 and went on to win the title four more times between 2002 and 2005. To date, Kirby has accumulated 13 medals in world competition.
Vintage Aircraft Association: Steve Nesse, EAA 37037, VAA 6490
Steve Nesse has been actively involved with EAA since 1967 and with VAA since 1971. Steve received his private pilot certificate in 1967. In 1975 he purchased a 1946 Navion from his father. After joining EAA in 1967 at Rockford, Steve has attended consecutive EAA conventions and has been active in VAA since its inception.
A charter member of VAA Chapter 13, Steve has served as vice president and president of that chapter. Steve was elected to the VAA board as an adviser in 1987 and then as a director in 1989. He filled in as secretary until he was formally elected to the role in 1991, where he served uninterrupted until 2020. He remains an active member of the board and a dedicated volunteer.
In the early 1990s, Steve was instrumental in supporting the creation of a new judging category for vintage aircraft at the annual fly-in in Oshkosh, at that time incorporating aircraft produced between 1956 and 1960. That category, now known as contemporary, has since been expanded to include aircraft manufactured as late as the end of 1970. Steve has also chaired the Tall Pines Café since 2002. Prior to that, he chaired the workshop tents that provided meeting places for type clubs, and he facilitated hands-on instruction in metal and fabric work and other valuable restoration techniques.
Warbirds of America: Carl Scholl, EAA 184061, WOA 3049, and Tony Ritzman, EAA 393289, WOA 11703
Carl Scholl and Tony Ritzman were both born in the 1940s and bitten by the aviation bug in their early 30s. Carl came across a derelict B-25 parked at the Ramona Airport in California. Fascinated, he wandered into the FBO and found the owner. Before long, Carl was the proud owner of N3155G — even though he had never flown an aircraft before.
Tony’s introduction to aviation came when he visited Carl at his transmission shop and saw him working on a B-25 rudder assembly. Tony was intrigued by the project and offered to buy into it, thus forming their ongoing business venture, Aero Trader. Carl and Tony sought out parts and other airframes to support the restoration. They earned their pilot certificates, and by 1982, they were both type rated in the B-25. A long succession of B-25s began the restoration process under Carl and Tony’s care. In 1985, they moved Aero Trader’s operations to Chino, California.
Today, Aero Trader is recognized as one of the top warbird restoration operations in the world. Carl and Tony’s vision and dedication to the preservation of the B-25 and other warbirds is legendary. There are very few airworthy B-25s in the warbird community that have not been under the care of Carl and Tony — including EAA’s own Berlin Express.