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Hall of Fame

EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame

established 1995

Dennis Sanders

EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame 2019

In the warbird community, when you say the name Sanders, most people think of the Hawker Sea Fury. The Sanders family has spent decades restoring and maintaining these rare airplanes. Dennis Sanders has spent his entire life as an EAA and Warbirds of America member. In 1978, at the age of 19, he flew a Hawker Sea Fury T-20 from his home base in California to EAA Oshkosh and back. In 1970, Dennis, who was just 12 years old at the time, started working for the family business, Sanders Aircraft, alongside his father, 2002 Warbirds of America Hall of Fame inductee Frank Sanders. After his father died, Dennis kept the business growing alongside his brother, Brian, and mother, Ruth, eventually moving the company to Ione, California, in 1996. Since then, the next generation of Sanders family has joined the team. As an air racer, Dennis has participated in many Unlimited Gold National Championship races, holding several speed records along the way in his highly modified Sea Fury TMK-20 named Dreadnought.  In 2019, he flew his Sea Fury to victory the Unlimited Gold Race at The National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV.

He is a check airman at Reno and shares his wealth of experience and safety insights with other racers. He has been an air show performer since 1988 and is believed to be the highest time Sea Fury pilot in the world. As a mentor, he has guided many volunteers in their quest to learn more about these amazing aircraft. Dennis helped found America’s Living History Museum in Ione, California, where he shares the aircraft and history with the public.

 

Members of the Hall of Fame

Click the year on the timeline to view the member inducted from the associated year.

  1. 1995

    Paul Poberezny
    Walt Ohlrich
    John Baugh
    Bill Harrison
    G.L “Jerry” Walbrun

  2. 1996

    Dick Dieter
    Charlie Nogle

  3. 1997

    Sue Parish
    Rudy Frasca
    Jeff Ethell

  4. 1998

    Randy Sohn
    John Ellis

  5. 1999

    Two individuals were inducted into the EAA Warbirds Hall of Fame on October 22, 1999.  Former EAA Warbirds President, and current Treasurer, Dick Ervin and the late Bill Dodds, who was particularly well known for his contributions to the Warbird Community as an instructor/checkpilot in everything from T-6s to B-17s.

    Dick Ervin was born in Centerville, Iowa in 1933.  His aviation future was heavily influenced by the navy primary flight school in Ottumwa, Iowa.  In 1952, he joined the U. S. Air Force; coincidently, his first check ride was given by Hal Weekley, a long-time member of the Warbirds and a B-17 pilot for the EAA Aviation Foundation.  He went on to become a T-28 and a T-33 instructor.  While a member of the Iowa Air Guard, he met Paul Poberezny, who delivered the unit’s first F-89.  Dick has held numerous offices within the EAA Warbirds of America as well as Warbird Squadron 3 and EAA chapter 67; he has further provided input and support to the EAA and EAA Aviation Foundation over the years.  He and his wife, Joan (also a Warbird Volunteer), have owned several warbirds over the years including an SNJ, Two T-28s and a TBM.

    Bill Dodds was born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1935; his aviation “career” started at ten years of age when his father bought him an airplane ride for his birthday.  He saved his money and started flying lessons at 14, working his way up to running the entire Hadley Airfield operation at the age of 18.  While working for seaboard and Western airlines (which became Seaboard World, them was bought by Flying Tigers and ultimately Federal Express), he became immersed in the world of warbirds.  His first love was his T-6, affectionately named “Squeeze,” which he flew as solo pilot with the Six of Diamonds flight team.  He was fortunate to build up his flight time in many other types, including those warbirds in Jeff Clyman’s collection.  Bill was a prominent member of the National Designated Pilot Examiner Registry and the EAA Warbird ACE Program.

  6. 2000

    Dave Schlingman

  7. 2001

    Linc Dexter
    Ed Maloney

  8. 2002

    Frank Sanders

  9. 2003

    Chuck Doyle
    Lloyd Nolen

  10. 2004

    Howard Pardue

    Howard Pardue (EAA 127179) was inducted into the EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame.  Pardue has logged 14,000 flight hours in 120 different types of aircraft in more than 50 years of flying.  He flew more than a dozen types of aircraft as a military pilot, then turned to warbird air show flying and competing at the National Championship Air Races.  Pardue also showed his passion for military aircraft by founding the Breckenridge Aviation Museum in Texas.

     

  11. 2005

    Steve Hinton
    Kermit Weeks

  12. 2006

    Two individuals were inducted into the EAA Warbirds Hall of Fame in 2006.  Jack Harrington (EAA 266182, Warbirds 9941) and Daryl Lenz (EAA 125926)

    Jack Harrington

    Jack Harrington, a current EAA Warbirds of America Board Member, and past president, began serving the organization in 1992.  He currently serves on the Warbirds Executive, Nominating, and Government Affairs committees.  His expertise in the government affairs arena has helped establish a solid working relationship with the FAA.  Jack served two terms as Warbirds president from 1996-2000.  Jack also serves on the EAA Board of Directors and is a founding member of the EAA Legal Advisory Council.

     

    Daryl Lenz

    Daryl was a former EAA director of aircraft maintenance, and was a strong supporter of the warbird movement.  His work helped thousands of people experience the sights and sounds of WWII aviation through EAA’s B-17, Aluminum Overcast.  His work also included organizing and operating AeroShell Square, the center of activity at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.  Tragically killed in an automobile accident this year, he was immortalized on the closing day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2006 when the AeroShell Square operations building was renamed the Daryl Lenz Center.

  13. 2007

    Wilson Connell “Connie” Edwards

    Wilson Connell “Connie” Edwards was employed by United Artists as chief stunt pilot for the movie Battle of Britain and flew the ME-109, Spitfire, Hurricane, Heinkel, and B-25 camera plane, among many others.  HE is the owner and pilot of PBY N4NC, which flew to Europe in 1986, reenacting the first Atlantic crossing by his specific type of aircraft, the 1919 flight of the Navy NC-4. HE has won many awards including the Seaplane Pilot of the Year award, the John Henry Towers Award from the Naval Aviation Commandery, donations of a P-38, ME-109, and F4U to the EAA Museum, and the Peoples Choice Award from the EAA in 1986.

  14. 2008

    Connie Bowlin

    After completing studies at Winston-Salem Business College in 1970, Connie Bowlin began her aviation career as a Delta Airlines flight attendant.  During her time with Delta, she obtained her private, commercial and airline transport pilot certificates and multiengine and instrument ratings.  She became the fourth female pilot hired by Delta and one of the first 50 women pilots hired by a major commercial airline.

    Bowlin flew as a second officer on the Boeing 727 and as a copilot on the DC-9 and Boeing 767/757 before eventually moving to captain on the DC-9.  In 2003, she retired as a Boeing 767/757 captain.  She not only flew commercial aircraft but warbirds as well.  She has enjoyed flying the P-51 Mustang and EAA’s B-17.  She has more than 17,000 hours of flying time in more than 70 different aircraft.  

    Her involvement with warbirds, aviation history, and aviation friendships inspired her to co-found AviationAutographs.com.  She has also become one of the driving forces behind EAA’s popular Warbirds in Review program at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.  In 1998, Bowlin was honored as an Eagle at the Gathering of Eagles and remains an inspiration to both female and male pilots.

  15. 2009

    George Baker

    George H. Baker was born January 19, 1930 in Hawthorne, NJ and has been flying since the age of 16.  He soloed in 1946 while in the eleventh grade in high school.  At the age of 20, he started in the aircraft restoration profession, starting with a Culver Cadet.

    George is well known for his restoration work on Beechcraft T-34’s and flying his aerobatic routine in the unique Curtis-Wright R-3350 powered Hawker “Sky Fury”.

    Over the years George has won numerous awards for his T-34, N341GB, including Grand Champion Warbird at EAA AirVenture 2000, along with the Reserve Grand Champion at the 2001 & 2002 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-Ins.  He was also awarded the Golden Wrench for his meticulous restoration work.  In 2004, he won a Preservation Award at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In.  George has also travelled the globe to recover and restore a number of warbird aircraft.

    He is also recognized for his efforts to inspire future aviators, mechanics, and other warbird enthusiasts, by sharing his vast knowledge of aviation and restoration work.

    George has been a member of EAA Warbirds of America since 1974 and was a founding member and past commander of the Valiant Air Command.  He has served as the chief pilot for NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway and has flown over 100 different types of aircraft, accumulating over 20,000 hours of flying time.

  16. 2010

    Harold D. “Hal” Weekley

    Harold D. “Hal” Weekley began flight training in 1936.  In fall 1942, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Forces.  A year later, Hal graduated from flight school as an Army Air Forces pilot and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.  In 1944, he went to England and flew 20 combat missions.  On his last mission he was shot down by flak.  After bailing out at 20,000 feet, he successfully evaded capture for several weeks, hidden by the local French people.

    Hal also trained jet instructor pilots during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.  After retirement from the Air Force, he worked with the FAA for 14 years.  He has amassed more than 20,000 hours in 97 different aircraft types and his certificates include airline transport pilot and airplane multi-engine land with type ratings in the DC-9, B-727 and CV-240/340/440.

  17. 2011

    David B. Lindsay, Jr.

  18. 2012

    Preston S. (Pete) Parish

  19. 2013

    Lee Lauderback

  20. 2014

    Jay Wisler

    Jay Wisler of Tampa, Florida, has been the go-to guy in the warbird parts industry.  His Business, Warbird Parts and Memorabilia, has supplied critical parts for restoration projects around the world since 1982.  He has traveled from coast to coast in the United States and Canada, overseas in Australia, South America, and Europe, buying inventories of surplus military aircraft parts.  He now manages nine large warehouses stocked full of inventory to serve the warbird community.  Many of the past EAA Warbirds of America Grand Champions/Reserve Grand Champions are outfitted with some of Jay’s aircraft parts.

    His favorite restoration aircraft is the North American P-51 Mustang.  Over the years, Jay has supplied parts for countless Mustang restorations.  His favorite project was Jack Roush’s P-51B, Old Crow.

    His motto is “If I don’t have it, I’ll help you find it”  This philosophy has served the warbird community quite well.

    Jay has been married to his wife, Sharon for 41 years, and they have one daughter.

     

  21. 2015

    Nelson Ezell
    EAA 484845, Warbirds 595324

    Since 1986, Nelson Ezell has been rebuilding warbirds.  That’s an understatement – from his facilities at the Stephens County Airport in Breckenridge, Texas, he and his team have saved some unique aircraft that otherwise may have ended up in the scrap heap.

    Aircraft saved include a Brewster Corsair, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a Wildcat, many Sea Furys and P-51 Mustangs, a Curtiss Helldiver, and some F8F Bearcats.  One Bearcat in particular is known as Rare Bear, the Unlimited Class racer that is a crowd favorite at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada.  Rare Bear has made the circuit in Reno at speeds well more than 500 miles per hour, making it a top contender year after year.  

    Nelson was born in 1943 and was interested in hot rods as a young man.  His interests eventually led him to aviation and restoring warbirds.  He is well-known in the warbird community as one of the best in the business.  Safety and attention to detail are the hallmarks of his restoration work.

    Nelson and his wife, Dude, have four children, and their two boys are actively involved in the family business, Ezell Aviation.

  22. 2016

    Doug Champlin

    Doug Champlin’s passion for preserving military aircraft extends to all eras, for World War I to the Vietnam War period. His Champlin Air Museum in Mesa, Arizona, became a magnet for warbird enthusiasts from around the world. The facility also became the home base for the American Fighter Aces Association and the Flying Tigers Association.

    After Champlin retired, the entire collection was moved in 2002 to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where it is displayed in the museum’s Personal Courage Wing. There, the airplanes and stories of the people who flew them can be preserved for posterity. Champlin passed away in May 2013, leaving behind a unique legacy in aviation.

  23. 2017

    Clarence E.“Bud” Anderson

    Clarence Emil “Bud” Anderson was born in Oakland, California, and grew up on a farm. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a pilot in the fall of 1942, and went on to fly two combat tours with the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the famed 357th Fighter Group in England. Bud, flying his faithful P-51D Mustang, Old Crow, flew more than 100 missions and scored 16 and 1/4 air combat victories. He started the war as a second lieutenant and returned to the States in 1945 with the rank of major. After the war, Bud was a test pilot first at Wright Field, and then at Edwards Air Force Base, where he served as chief of flight test operations. After a stint at the Pentagon, he commanded an F-105 fighter wing in Vietnam before retiring as a colonel in 1972 with more than two dozen decorations to his name. Throughout his storied career, Bud has logged more than 7,000 hours of flying time and flown more than 100 different types of aircraft. Bud is a volunteer with EAA Warbirds of America where he appears annually in the Warbirds in Review program during EAA® AirVenture® Oshkosh™. His presentations are always among the most popular of all Warbirds in Review sessions.

  24. 2018

    Jack Roush was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1942 at the height of the war. His interest in science, math, and all things mechanical began at an early age. Those interests led him to auto racing and eventually partnering with Fenway Sports Group to form Roush Fenway Racing — one of the most successful NASCAR teams in history. Roush’s entry into the aviation community led him to the P-51 Mustang, purchasing his first in 1992. With his vast experience in motor sports, he began studying the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and quickly discovered that parts and maintenance support were in short supply. With his typical drive, Jack laid the groundwork for the establishment of the first and only FAA Repair Station for Merlin engines. Jack and his company, Roush Aviation, are the leaders in preservation of the Merlin, keeping today’s P-51 Mustangs in the air and preserving our rich military aviation history. Jack currently owns and operates two Mustangs, Old Crow and Gentleman Jim. Despite his busy racing schedule, he always carves out time to visit EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, participating in the ever-popular Warbirds in Review program.

  25. 2019

    Dennis Sanders

    EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame 2019

    In the warbird community, when you say the name Sanders, most people think of the Hawker Sea Fury. The Sanders family has spent decades restoring and maintaining these rare airplanes. Dennis Sanders has spent his entire life as an EAA and Warbirds of America member. In 1978, at the age of 19, he flew a Hawker Sea Fury T-20 from his home base in California to EAA Oshkosh and back. In 1970, Dennis, who was just 12 years old at the time, started working for the family business, Sanders Aircraft, alongside his father, 2002 Warbirds of America Hall of Fame inductee Frank Sanders. After his father died, Dennis kept the business growing alongside his brother, Brian, and mother, Ruth, eventually moving the company to Ione, California, in 1996. Since then, the next generation of Sanders family has joined the team. As an air racer, Dennis has participated in many Unlimited Gold National Championship races, holding several speed records along the way in his highly modified Sea Fury TMK-20 named Dreadnought.  In 2019, he flew his Sea Fury to victory the Unlimited Gold Race at The National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV.

    He is a check airman at Reno and shares his wealth of experience and safety insights with other racers. He has been an air show performer since 1988 and is believed to be the highest time Sea Fury pilot in the world. As a mentor, he has guided many volunteers in their quest to learn more about these amazing aircraft. Dennis helped found America’s Living History Museum in Ione, California, where he shares the aircraft and history with the public.

Nominate our next EAA Warbirds Hall of Fame Member

It is the intent of the EAA Warbirds of America to recognize individuals, either living or deceased, who have furthered the cause of the EAA War birds of America and/or the warbird movement, in general. These may include, but are not limited to: restorers, aviators, educators, innovators, award winners, leaders, record setters, technical contributors, etc.