Honoring Aviation and Aerospace Heroes

4-3-2017

Port San Antonio teamed with the Dee Howard Foundation (DHF) to host the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame (SAAAHOF)  2017 induction ceremony on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

The event — SAAAHOF’s second-annual — was held at the large hangar on the grounds of GDC Technics, one of the Port’s major aerospace customers. Over 500 guests attended while being surrounded by an array of nearly 20 aircraft flown in for the event, including a World War II-era P-51 Mustang and P-39 Airacobra fighter.

With 2017 marking the 100-year anniversary of Kelly Field, SAAAHOF was pleased to celebrate this historic milestone by commemorating Port San Antonio’s rich past and looking ahead toward its bright future.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor provided the opening remarks, and former Mayor Phil Hardberger — himself a retired Air Force captain and pilot — delivered the evening’s keynote address. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff was also among the presenters. 

Honorees receiving awards recognizing outstanding efforts in the advancement of local, national and global aviation included:

  • U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison — The former Texas senator’s milestone endeavors include working closely with the San Antonio community as Kelly Air Force Base began closure and realignment in the 1990s. She served as an important champion for redevelopment strategies that saved thousands of aerospace jobs and helped create present-day Port San Antonio.

  • Lt. Col. Olga Custodio (Ret.) — Now a San Antonio resident, she’s a former U.S. Air Force officer who carries the distinction of being the first Hispanic female to serve as a U.S. military pilot and first Latina flight instructor in the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). Upon retirement from Air Force active duty, she continued to fly in the reserves and also became the first Latina captain of American Airlines.

  • Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. — Born in Temple, Texas and raised in San Antonio, Dr. Harris became a NASA astronaut who flew aboard two Space Shuttle missions. During his second flight, in 1995, he became the first African American to perform a spacewalk while orbiting the earth.

  • Col. William Charles Ocker and Major Carl Joseph Crane — Ocker (1880-1942), an inventor, led several aviation innovations. Of special significance are navigation instruments and pilot training equipment that enabled flight in low-visibility conditions and which have been credited with saving the lives of numerous airmen. San Antonio-native Crane (1900-1982), also an inventor, served as a pilot instructor at Kelly Field in the 1920’s. In later years he helped design various instruments that enabled the world’s first fully automated landing. He patented more than 100 aviation innovations, including some in partnership with Ocker. Family members will receive awards recognizing these two late aviation pioneers.
  • Col. William Tuttle and Luther Bynum Clegg — Tuttle and Clegg each served as Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce; Clegg (1873-1955) was a prominent local businessman and a chamber member. Together they led local efforts leading to the establishment of Randolph Field in San Antonio in 1928. Family members will also receive awards on behalf of these late champions of San Antonio aerospace.

  • The U.S. Air Force’s 433rd Airlift Wing — First activated during the Korean War, the wing is part of the U.S. Air Force Air Reserves and is assigned to JBSA-Lackland. Dubbed the “Alamo Wing,” today’s 433rd ensures the combat readiness of over 3,000 reservists. Among its responsibilities, it is the sole C-5 formal training unit within the U.S. Air Force

Along with the induction ceremony, the event featured an aviation/aerospace exhibit and a tribute to both Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole (Ret.) and the Tuskegee Airmen.

Proceeds from the event will support the DHF Pre-K thru 12 Initiative, whose mission is to provide aviation and aerospace curricula to enhance regional STEM academic programs, offer hands-on experience to students, fund field trips and deliver technical skills training to students from underserved areas. All DHF educational initiatives are undertaken in collaboration with industry partners, public and charter schools and other non-profit organizations.