Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame
Organized in 1998, the original Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame was established by OAHS to honor those aviation pioneers who deserve special recognition for their contribution to aviation. Priority is given to those who hail from Oregon or made their contribution while a resident of the state.
The Society welcomes suggestions of deserving candidates who meet the criteria established for possible induction into this elite group. You can download the candidate identification form below, or email us and we’ll send you one, along with candidate criteria. Please note that submitting information on a candidate does not guarantee induction.
Inductees to date are:
1998: John G. “Tex” Rankin (1893 – 1947)
Tex was a national air show performer and World Aerobatic Champion from 1937 until his death in an aviation accident at Klamath Falls, Oregon. He operated flight schools on the west coast and during World War II, had the largest training program in the United States. A major advocate of flight safety, his pilots were instructed in maneuvers designed to keep them out of trouble. “Jimmy” Doolittle wrote of him, “a superb pilot, a fine gentleman, and a loyal American.”
2000: Dorothy Hester Stenzel (1910 – 1991)
Dorothy learned to fly at the Rankin School of Flying in Portland, and was taught aerobatics by Tex Rankin. At age nineteen, she was given a new Great Lakes trainer by the factory to demonstrate nationally on tour. She set records for women of 62 consecutive outside loops judged perfect, and for men and women, of 56 inverted snap rolls. That record was still standing at the date of her inclusion in the Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame. “Dot” operated a flight school in Cornelius, Oregon.
2001: Lee Eyerly (1892 – 1963)
Lee was an aircraft designer and builder in Salem. His Eyerly “Whiffle Hen” was an attempt to provide depression era people the means to own an airplane and fly economically. He was superintendent of the Salem Airport and operated a flying school there. Lee was appointed to the Oregon State Board of Aeronautics in the 1920s and served through 1958. He was a mechanic, inventor and designer and builder of carnival rides.
2002: Charles Langmack, Col. USAF (Ret.) (1907 – 1999)
Charlie, an Oregon aviation pioneer, soloed in 1920 when 12 years old, operated a flight school on land he rented that became the Albany Airport, barnstormed the Northwest, flew for several airlines before he was 30 and spent 35 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1967 to his grass seed farm. He trained B-17 and B-25 pilots including many of the famed “Doolittle Raiders,” and flew everything from his OX-5 to F-86F jet fighters.
2003: Myron “Buz” Buswell (1918 – 2005)
Buz’s flying career dates to the Oregon homebuilding activity at Bernard Field in Beaverton. Often referred to as the “Beaverton Outlaws,” their flying was completely legal within the licensing of plane and pilot by the State of Oregon. His flying career spanned over sixty years, with much of that time spent teaching his skill to others. He operated the Lakeview Airport for 32 years. During World War II, Captain Buswell piloted B- 24J Liberators in the Pacific Theater.
2003: Kenneth Jernstedt
(1917 – 2013)
Ken flew with the American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers,” destroying 12 Japanese aircraft, and earning the aviation title “Ace.” He returned from China to work at Republic Aircraft as a P-47 fighter test pilot until the end of WW II. He was carrier qualified on the USS Wasp and Hornet. Ken served in civilian life too, as an Oregon State Legislator for 24 years and Mayor of Hood River, Oregon for 4 years. The Hood River Airport has been renamed for him.
2004: Major Genenal USMC Marion Carl (Ret.) (1915 – 1998)
Marion was the Marine Corps first Ace with 19 victories. He served in the Pacific Theater throughout WWII, and saw combat duty in Korea and Vietnam. He flew U-2 reconnaissance missions over Red China in 1955. He was an Edwards Air Force Base test pilot achieving a world record for altitude there. He was the first Marine to qualify in helicopters and the first Marine to bring a jet aboard an aircraft carrier. Roseburg Airport is dedicated in his name.
2006: George Bogardus
(1914 – 1997)
George is responsible for the federal licensing category of “Experimental” aircraft. In 1947, under a special license, he assembled and flew a modified Long – Wimpy on an incredible trip from Troutdale, OR to Washington, D.C. demonstrating to the Civil Aviation Authority that homebuilt airplanes were both safe and reliable. The officials agreed and the new category became law. For the first time, pilots could legally fly aircraft they had built themselves.
2006: Leslie Long (1889 – 1945)
Les is described as “the father of aircraft homebuilding.” He designed and built a series of simple and affordable airplanes, selling the blueprints and instructions internationally. His breakthrough low wing ‘Wimpy’ design is recognizable throughout the sport planes flying today. He hand carved propellers under federal license and marketed them across the country. Les also manufactured the ‘Harlequin’ aircraft engine, a design of his own.
2006: Richard VanGrunsven (1936 – )
Dick began his first aviation part – time business of making wheel fairings at age 18. From there, he has continually been modifying and designing aircraft to be more efficient. He has become the most successful designer of homebuilt aircraft in history. His Van’s RV series of aircraft comprise approximately 20 percent of the nation’s single engine general aircraft fleet with over 4,700 kits completed and flying throughout the world.
2008: Phil Boyer (1940 – )
Phil is proficient in aircraft ranging from the open cockpit of his Waco to AOPA’s Cessna CJ3. He is an Oregon native with 8,500 hours and an Atlantic crossing in his logbook. Phil has been the president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for 17 years. He directed the 415,000-member organization through passage of federal legislation benefiting general aviation and protecting it from countless legislative challenges.
2008: Raymond E. Costello, Lt.Col. USAF (Ret.)
(1920 – 2019)
Ray is a decorated pilot and pioneer general aviation planner. He is a member of both the Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor. Ray saw combat in World War II, the Korean Conflict and Viet Nam. In addition, he flew in the Berlin Airlift. A visionary in aviation planning, Ray led the Oregon Aeronautics Division in establishing a general aviation systems plan that became the model funded and implemented by the FAA.
2010: Daniel D. Grecco
(1897 – 1983)
Danny, known as “Mr. Aviation” throughout the country, was a barnstormer, a wing walker performing without safety harness or a parachute, a stunt pilot, an airframe and engine mechanic, and the first licensed helicopter mechanic in the nation. He was elected to the Columbus, Ohio National Aviation Hall of Fame. He was designated the best mechanic in the west by the Federal Aeronautic Administration in 1963.
2010: Timothy L. Talen
(1945 – )
Tim is an award winning, historically correct restorer of early aircraft. His work has been recognized by the Experimental Aircraft Association as well as by the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum sponsored National Aviation Heritage Invitation Awards. In 1984, Tim instigated the successful rebirth of the Oregon Air Tours of the 1930s. He is the founder of the Oregon Antique and Classic Aircraft Club and the Oregon Aviation Historical Society.
2011: Rex T. Barber, COL. USAF (Ret.) (1917 – 2001)
Rex flew 138 WWII combat missions in the Pacific Theater and China, destroying 5(conf.), 3(prob.) aircraft and 1 enemy destroyer. From Guadalcanal with a search group, he shot down the bomber carrying the planner of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He tested the first jet fighter and later commanded the first jet fighter squadron. He flew the jet in the Bendix Trophy Race. Rex returned to his home of Culver, Oregon where he was a successful businessman, community volunteer and City Mayor.
2011: Elrey B. Jeppesen
(1907 – 1996)
“Jepp” grew up in Odell, Oregon learned to fly at age 20, and became a barnstormer, instructor, and pilot with Tex Rankin’s Flying Circus. He was an airmail pilot and flew with Varney Airlines, Boeing Air Transport and United Airlines. Without navigation aids or charts, he began to write down airport layouts, runway lengths, obstructions, and other information in his little black loose-leaf notebook. These drawings became the world-wide Jeppesen air navigation aids that are used today.
2012: Henry “Hank” Troh
(1911 – 1968)
Hank was born in the small town of Glenwood (north of Hood River) and spent most of his life in Oregon. For more than 35 years he served the future of aviation in the Northwest and the Portland area. He was the first to land on the completed surface of Portland International Airport, in his 1931 Bird bi-plane. He made his mark on the future giving rides to thousands of passengers, lessons to hundred of pilots, and aircraft ownership to scores. Hank was recognized as the Guru of Flight by his students and friends. He forged the future of general aviation with a strong hand and an unusual sense of pleasure and humor, thus communicating his passion for flight.
2014: James Lester “Les” Meadows COL. USAFR (Ret.) (1902 – 1955)
“Les” grew up in North Bend, Oregon – learned to fly at age 25 – was a pilot at the Tex Rankin School of flying – commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps Reserve in 1930. Was a partner in his own air service – called to active duty in 1940 and became Director of Pilot Training at Williams Field training P-38 pilots from 1941 – 1943. Flew B-25 combat missions in the Pacific theater in 1944 during WW II. Managed the North Bend Airport and was Executive Secretary of the Aviation Commission for the City of Portland. Served with the 403rd Troop Carrier Wing on active duty during the Korean War.
2015: James Carle “Jimmy” Rinehart (1908-1954)
James Carle Rinehart was born in Portland in 1909 and in 1926 he built his own plane and learned to fly. By 1928 he was an endurance flight record holder, OX-5 class, made in an American Eagle at Seaside, Oregon. He was also the youngest licensed transport pilot in the country, having received that licensed at the age of 18. He started his own company, Columbia Gorge Air Service, Inc., with sea planes and land planes, with hangars at Hayden Island and Jantzen Beach park, all of which he built himself. He gave sightseeing tours and flying lessons at these locations, and established the first passenger route from Portland to the ocean beaches in 1927. In that same year he entered the national air races, flying from San Francisco to Spokane. After graduating from Oregon State, he became a flight instructor for Tex Rankin’s Flying School in Portland. In 1934 he moved to Alaska to fly as a bush pilot with Alaska Air Transport Inc. In World War II, James worked as a flight instructor for the Army Air Corps and was taught at Ryan Airfield in Hemet, CA. He died in 1954 when his Grumman G-44 Widgeon crashed in bad weather in Alaska
2016: Basil Burton Smith
Basil first became interested in aviation while helping hold down a pusher type aircraft at the Multnomah County Fair in 1912. After high school, he joined the Naval Reserves and got his flight training at M.I.T. and the naval flight school at Pensacola. After WW I he worked as the Ground School Superintendent at the Rankin School of Flying (where he wrote the ground school training manual), then went to the Adcox Auto & Aviation Trade School as an instructor. At Adcox, he designed several aircraft, including the Student Prince and the “Yellow Peril,” a racer built for the 1930 Cirrus Derby. He also designed a variable orifice oleo shock absorber and served for a while on the Oregon State Board of Aeronautics. He rejoined the active reserves and during WWII was instrumental in designing the Naval Air Station at Pasco, WA, for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit. He was so good at airbase design that he was tasked with the design and consolidation of several air bases in the Philippines during the war. Smith was a pilot, an instructor, a spokesperson for aviation, and a designer of aircraft and airfields, and we are delighted to add his name to the Oregon Aviation Hall of Fame roster.
Basil B Smith (click for the Power Point presentation)
2020: JAMES L. WRIGHT
It has been said that the difference between a “pilot” and an “aviator” is that a pilot is a technician and an aviator is an artist in love with flight. A lifelong resident of the local area, he built and flew numerous airplanes but became known internationally by first building and then flying the Hughes H-1 Racer Reproduction, which many have said was the most beautiful aircraft ever built. In total, he accumulated more than 3,200 hours of flight time and achieved one world speed record.