The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) proudly reports that the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) RISE ABOVE project has earned the 18th Annual Combs Gates Award. The NAHF will award the $20,000 cash prize to the CAF in early 2021.
NAHF Chairman Michael Quiello quoted from the nomination packet itself in making the announcement, “The CAF indisputably sets the standard for aviation education around the world. Their project is centered on the lessons and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). It consists of community events, restored World War II-era aircraft, school visits, traveling exhibits, virtual learning tools, and classroom materials.”
CAF RISE ABOVE Leader Doug Rozendaal further stated, “CAF RISE ABOVE is committed to telling the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen and the WASP. We are on a mission to educate people of all ages about these important American trailblazers so their strength of character and ability to triumph over adversity may serve as a means to inspire others to rise above obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.”
CAF RISE ABOVE’s three-fold educational outreach program includes multiple resources for educators, parents, and students. Their educational trifecta includes an informative website with an online virtual museum which offers multiple easy to use resources, a fully restored WWII-era P-51C Mustang, and an iconic traveling exhibit that offers a fully-functional mobile movie theater featuring two compelling original short films that tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and the WASP. To learn more about the CAF, visit https://commemorativeairforce.org/
The Combs Award, the original title, grew out of a donation to the NAHF by the late Harry Combs, a 1996 Enshrinee of the NAHF. As part of a $1.3 million gift to help fund the creation of a NAHF research center, Combs stipulated that the Combs Award be established to encourage and support relevant aviation history research and preservation efforts. A panel of expert judges reviews each submission based upon criteria such as historical accuracy, creativity, the potential for long-term impact, and value to the NAHF’s mission of honoring America’s outstanding air and space pioneers.
John Gates and his sister, Diane G. Wallach, are co-trustees of the Gates Frontiers Fund, a foundation created by their late parents, Charles C. and June S. Gates. Mr. Gates, who passed away in 2005 at age 84, was former Chairman and CEO of the Gates Corporation, an avid multi-engine and helicopter pilot, and partner with Combs in several aviation businesses, including the Combs Gates FBO chain and Gates Learjet.