In 1978, the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society inaugurated the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame, and since then the society has recognized individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation, particularly those who have helped Virginia become a leader in the aerospace industry to develop. Since then, more than 100 people have been inducted, representing various aerospace disciplines, including but not limited to pilots.
The four members inducted in 2022 were Van Crosby, David Darrah, Bob Hepp and Gladys West. The main reasons for their call-up were highlighted on the VAHF website.
Van Crosby served as President and Chairman of the VAHS and President of the Virginia Aviation Business Association. His “lifetime service to the Virginia aviation community” included time spent in a variety of roles in the aviation industry, from an FBO manager and flight instructor to a charter pilot, aircraft sales representative and more.
Colonel Dave Darrah was a US Marine Corps aviator who accumulated approximately 6,000 flight hours in his 30 years of service. During his service, he “commanded and directed several large and complex military units and organizations in the United States and abroad.” Darrah has served on the boards of directors of VAHS and the Virginia Aviation Business Association and was named 2015 Virginia Department of Aviation Airport Manager of the Year.
Lt. Col. Robert Hepp is the founder of the Virginia flight school Aviation Adventures. In 2016, he was named FAA Flight Instructor of the Year and “was recognized as a pioneer in the use of flight simulators and advanced flight training equipment.” Before becoming a flight school owner, Hepp served as an officer in the US Army for 21 years.
Hepp, an AOPA member along with Crosby and Darrah, was surprised and honored by the nomination and acceptance. Brig. Gen. David Young (a former VAHF candidate) worked with Hepp’s family to honor the legacy Hepp continues to bring to the aviation community through his work in the military and as an award-winning flight instructor, who describes teaching as “the making of people.” of Virginia leaves dreams come true.”
“There’s a very rich aviation history in Virginia,” Hepp said. “I think the mission is great [the VAHF has] Connecting people in Virginia to aerospace.”
“The work they are doing is amazing in identifying the people who made a significant contribution,” Hepp said of the historical society’s work to support his fellow candidates and their impact on the Virginia community, including Gladys West.
Gladys Mae West spent her 42-year career at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, where she worked as a programmer and project manager, most notably on the Seasat altimetry project, an orbiting satellite that helped improve our understanding of Earth’s oceans. Widely recognized as one of the most influential “human computers”, she worked on the development of GPS. West was inducted into the US Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame and recognized by the BBC 100 women Series.