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Annual Combs Gates Award









Past Recipients

  • 2020 — Commemorative Air Force RISE ABOVE — Dallas, TX
  • 2019 — Sarah Byrn Rickman — Colorado Springs, CO
  • 2018 — Peggy Loeffler — Great Barrington, MA
  • 2017 — Dennis R. Jenkins — Cape Canaveral, FL
  • 2016 — David McCullough — Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2015 – Kim Furst – Encino, CA
  • 2014 – Jon Tennyson/Scott Guyette – Green Lake, WI
  • 2013 – Mr. Mike Machat, Woodland Hills, CA
  • 2012 – Ms. Regina Wirtanen Bucher, Baltimore, MD
  • 2011 – Ms. Heather Taylor, Columbia, MD
  • 2010 – Mr. Philip Handleman, Birmingham, MI
  • 2009 – Ms Sarah Byrn Rickman, Centerville, OH
  • 2008 – First Flight Foundation, Kitty Hawk, NC
  • 2007 – Ms Jane Gardner Birch, Crownsville, MD
  • 2006 – Dr. Richard P. Hallion, Alexandria, VA
  • 2005 – Mr. Jay Miller, Fort Worth, TX
  • 2004 – Wright State University Special Collections/Archives Accepted by Ms. Dawn Dewey, Dayton, OH
  • 2003 – Mr. Dan Patterson, Dayton, OH

Purpose of the Combs-Gates Award

An annual cash award presented to an individual or group completing a project judged exemplary in promoting and/or preserving America’s air and space heritage. In keeping with the Congressionally chartered mission of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, ideal projects will reflect an emphasis on the individual pioneers – the people – who defined America’s aerospace horizons. The award is named in part to honor its founder, the late Harry B. Combs, a 1996 NAHF Enshrinee who played a significant force in civil aviation, developing modern air traffic control standards, saving Learjet from bankruptcy, and operating one of the nation’s most successful fixed base operation chains. Combs later researched and wrote one of the definitive works on the brilliance of the Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hill: Discovering the Secrets of the Wright Brothers. The late entrepreneur, Charles C. Gates, not only shared Combs’ passion for historic preservation, but was also a partner with Combs in several business ventures including the Gates Learjet Corporation and the Combs-Gates chain of fixed base operations (FBO’s).

The commitment of both these visionaries to preserving and promoting America’s aerospace history is the reason this award bears their names.

Eligibility for the Combs-Gates Award

  • Eligible projects must have a primary focus on American air and space achievements and/or pioneers.
  • Projects may be unpublished or yet-to-be-broadcast/displayed but should be at least 90% complete at the date of submission.
  • Nominees may not be employees or relatives of employees of the NAHF, nor any of its contractors, vendors or assignees. The term “employee” includes only those financially compensated by the NAHF for their services; it does not include those who volunteer their time and/or services to the facility.
  • Nominees must fill out the appropriate paperwork and send seven (7) completed copies of the application and relevant project materials.  Printed materials in PDF format are acceptable along with one physical copy of the project.  All applications and materials remain the property of the NAHF.
  • The NAHF will keep materials for re-submission the following year by advance request of the applicant.  No materials will be returned.
  • If deemed necessary, award finalists must submit to an interview by member(s) of the review committee to elaborate upon aspects of their project.
  • Nominees retain full ownership of the project being submitted; however, a nominee must agree, in advance, to share research, materials and/or a mutually agreed-upon number of completed project elements (as in the case of a video, book or artwork) with the NAHF for the purposes of education, promotion and fundraising.
  • Award recipients must agree to the use of their name, likeness and project description for the purposes of promotion of the award and the mission/vision of the NAHF.

Criteria of the Combs-Gates Award

  • Combs-Gates Award recipients will be recognized for their substantial and lasting contribution to the preservation and/or promotion of America’s aerospace heritage.
  • Projects eligible for this recognition, and for the award, include, but are not limited to: film/video, book, research paper, internet/web site, artwork/illustration, restoration/exhibit development. For those submitting an as yet unpublished book project, at least two completed, representative chapters must be included with the application.
  • Submissions will be viewed in terms of their historical accuracy, presentation and public appeal, and relevancy to the NAHF mission, as well as the uniqueness and creativity of the project.
  • Applicants are encouraged to review and understand the history and function of the NAHF and its role in promoting American air and space pioneers and their achievements . The Review Committee is charged with selecting a suitable award recipient from the perspective of the NAHF’s role in promoting the history of aviation through individual initiative and achievement.

Committee members will judge each submission by assigning points to seven key criteria:

  1. Relevancy and value of project to the NAHF mission: (1-10)
  2. Historical accuracy/quality of research: (1-30)
  3. Timeliness/value to filling gap or need in historic documentation: (1-10)
  4. Presentation of applicant (how well applicant expresses motivation etc. in writing): (1-15)
  5. Creativity/Innovation of the project: (1-10)
  6. Public appeal and promotional potential of project: (1-10)
  7. Potential long-term impact of project toward preserving U.S. air & space heritage: (1-15)

The Review Committee reserves the right to solicit award nominations in the event that submitted projects do not fulfill the NAHF criteria for promoting and preserving American air and space history. In the event that all submitted projects fail to adequately address the NAHF’s objectives, the award money will be rolled over into the next selection year at which time multiple awards may be given if multiple projects fit the criteria and standards of the NAHF and the Combs-Gates Award Review Committee.

Nomination Process for the Combs-Gates Award

  • Applications may be submitted between February 1 and June 16 of each year in order to be eligible for that year’s presentation.
  • Once applications and project copies have been received, the Combs-Gates Review Committee will each independently evaluate submissions based upon the seven key criteria. The committee consists of members selected each year representative of a broad spectrum of air and space industry and heritage expertise.
  • The NAHF will receive and tabulate the scoring, thus determining that year’s award recipient. The recipient and applicant will be notified with the results by mid-September.
  • The NAHF will pay round-trip travel and up to two nights’ lodging expenses for the Combs-Gates Award winner and guest to attend the award presentation at the annual NBAA convention.
  • Deadline for applications: June 16.

Please address any questions and/or correspondence to:

National Aviation Hall of Fame
Re: Combs Gates Award
1100 Spaatz St.
Dayton, OH 45433

or submit an e-mail to Meagan Geeting [email protected]

Questions?  Please call, 937-256-0944 ext. 16

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