Wood-Ridge, NJ – On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey held its 43rd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. This tribute dinner honors local aviation pioneers and financially supports the hall of fame and museum, located on Fred Wehran Drive in Teterboro, NJ. It is one of the museum’s biggest fund raising events of the year.
Founded in 1972, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey is dedicated to the preservation of the Garden State’s distinguished, two-century aviation and space heritage. Men and women whose outstanding aeronautical achievements have brought worldwide recognition to the state are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Meridian is a proud supporter of the museum, and representatives of the company enjoy attending the induction dinner every year. Ken Forester, Sr., who founded Meridian with Bob Hewitt back in 1946, was himself inducted into the hall of fame in 2008. He was among those who attended on Tuesday evening.
This event recognized three individuals who are connected to New Jersey and who have each uniquely contributed to the advancement of human flight.
The 2015 NJ Hall of Fame Inductees were:
Capt. Janis K. Blackburn (Born 1948)
A longtime resident of Belmar, Blackburn began her flying career as a flight instructor and charter pilot. Her true goal was to work for the scheduled carriers. The time was the late 1960s and the major airlines were, by and large, not accepting applications from women for cockpit positions. Blackburn persisted in spite of repeated rejections and was finally hired by Princeton Airlines, a small NJ carrier. This was the beginning of a long and successful career with Summit Airlines, Sun Country, Eastern, Kiwi, and Spirit (from which she retired in 2013.) At virtually every carrier Blackburn was the first female in her position including becoming the first women to crew the A-300 in America and the first female captain at Kiwi. After flying her last trip with Spirit she began working as a consultant with the FAA Technical Center in Atlantic City, a position she holds today.
Throughout this period Blackburn served the aviation community in a myriad of other ways. Among the organizations that she contributed to, usually in leadership roles were the Ninety-Nines women’s flight organization, the Civil Air Patrol, the New Jersey Aviation Education Council, the Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association, the Air Line Pilots Association and the FAA Safety Counselor Program. She even travelled to Africa to participate in missions work in Kenya. Always interested in youth aviation education, Blackburn recently became an author with the publishing of her first children’s book, Teddy, The Airplane.
Still an active flight instructor with the Monmouth Area Flying Club Blackburn has logged over 22,000 piloting hours during her lifetime.
Henry M. Holden (Born 1939)
Making his home in Randolph, Holden is a prolific aviation historian and author. In 1994, Mr. Holden was honored in the United States Congressional Record for his work in recording the history of American women in aviation. He was the recipient of the Author’s Award from the New Jersey Institute of Technology for his book Her Mentor Was An Albatross – The Autobiography of Pioneer Pilot Harriet Quimby. In 1996 Holden launched the Women in Aviation Resource Center, an online repository of educational, historical, and networking resources for women interested in all aspects of aviation. In 2010 He was given the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of NJ’s Distinguished Service Award.
Holden is the author of over 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles appearing in national publications. Holden has also published 43 books, and is the founder of the DC-3/Dakota Association. His two volume history of the DC-3 is considered to be the definitive work on this legendary aircraft. Holden is a member of Women in Aviation International, AOPA, and EAA. He speaks at aviation events cross the country as a guest lecturer. His work has been the subject of a number of radio and television programs including one on the History Channel. Henry is a former News Editor East for Airport Journals and had been a monthly contributor.
A selection of aviation magazines that he has written for, includes: Private Pilot, Plane & Pilot, Airport Journals, Skylight, World Airnews, InFlight-USA, American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Women in Aviation, Woman Pilot, Airport Press, Aviation History, Vintage Airplane, Warbirds, and Sport Aviation Magazine.
General James E. Young (Born 1920)
Raised in Passaic and Nutley; Young joined the U.S. Army Air Force in January 1942, about a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Upon earning his wings he was initially assigned to flying B-24s and B-25s on 43 anti-submarine patrols off the East Coast. In January 1944 Young was re-assigned to Italy where he flew both B-24s and B-17s on combat missions that included four raids on the Ploesti Oil Fields. In June of that year Young was transferred to England where he went on to complete 34 more missions on B-17s, some of which involved supporting the D-Day invasion. During this time he was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
Upon release from active service at war’s end Young joined the NJ Air National Guard. He was recalled to active duty during both the Korean War and the Berlin Crisis in 1961-62. After returning to New Jersey he was promoted, in 1967, to Commander of the ANG 170th Military Airlift Group at McGuire AFB. He remained its Commander in 1977 when it became the 170th Air Refueling Group after transitioning from transport aircraft to KC-135 Jet Strato-Tankers. In 1979 Young was promoted to Brigadier General and became Assistant Adjutant General for Air, NJ Department of Defense. He retired from this position in 1980 after 39 years of service and 11,000 flying hours on 15 aircraft types.
During Young’s Air Force and Air National Guard career he was awarded a total of 18 medals and commendations.