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Fairfax4 inducted into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame

4 inducted into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame

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Four prominent Virginians were inducted Nov. 12 as members of the Class of 2022 of the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.

The induction dinner and ceremony was conducted by the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society and hosted by Shannon Airport owner and president Luke Curtas on the Shannon Airport campus in Fredericksburg.

The four inductees are, in alphabetical order, Van Crosby of Anna Maria, Fla. (formerly of Richmond); retired Marine Corps Col. Dave Darrah of Stafford; retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bob Hepp of Fairfax Station; and Gladys Mae West of Dahlgren.

Vetting and selection of nominees is overseen by the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society (VAHS). Photos and summaries of the contributions of each inductee are enshrined at the Shannon Air Museum on the Shannon Airport campus.

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“The VAHS board of directors and our selection committee took great care to review each nomination and to ensure that the most deserving in Virginia’s rich aviation community were recognized by induction,” said the organization’s chairman, Tom Woodburn.

“All four inductees represent the finest traditions of the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame and reflect great credit on the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society, the profession of aviation and the community served so ably by our inductees for decades,” added VAHS president Greg Fletcher.

A total of 15 individuals were nominated for consideration for the Hall of Fame; the four who were enshrined were selected through a rigorous vetting process:

• Van Crosby devoted a lifetime of service to the Virginia aviation community as manager of a fixed-base operation, flight instructor, charter pilot, aircraft sales representative, airport manager and insurance-account executive serving Virginia airports and aircraft owners. He also served as VAHS president and chairman and president of the Virginia Aviation Business Association.

• Col. Dave Darrah was a 30-year U.S. Marine Corps aviator who accumulated 6,000 flying hours in 10 different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. He commanded and led multiple large military units and organization in the U.S. and overseas. After retirement from military service, he served as airport-enterprise director of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, responsible for all airport operations and long-range planning. He was recognized in 2015 as the Virginia Department of Aviation Airport Manager of the Year, and he has served on the boards of the VAHS and the Virginia Aviation Business Association.

• Lt. Col. Bob Hepp was a 21-year U.S. Army officer who served his country with distinction. After retirement from military service, he founded and today is the owner and operator of Aviation Adventures, a Northern Virginia-based flight-training institution. He has been recognized as a pioneer in the use of flight simulators and advanced flight-training devices. In 2016, he was recognized as the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Instructor of the Year.

• Gladys Mae West served over the course of a 42-year career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren in King George. She is widely recognized as one of the first women to use her skills as a “human computer” for the U.S. Armed Forces in an age before computers were available. Most notably, she served as project manager of the Seasat altimetry project, the first Earth-orbiting satellite designed for remote sensing of the Earth’s oceans.

In this role, she collected and processed satellite data to determine the exact location of satellites, which led to development of the Global Positioning System. She has been inducted into the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame.

Plans already are under way for the nomination and induction cycle for the Class of 2023. Details will be announced early in the coming year on the VAHS Website at https://www.vahsonline.com.

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