On April 19, 1989, Governor Joe Frank Harris signed a bill authorizing the creation of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame (GAHF). Since then GAHF has been in continuous operation and is housed in the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base (AFB), in Warner Robins.
GAHF eligibility is based on contributions to the advancement of aviation or manned space flight, including achievements as a civil or military pilot, aircraft designer, astronaut, or leader in the fields of aviation or human space travel. Candidates, who may be living or deceased, must have been born in Georgia, lived in Georgia for at least four years, made their contributions in Georgia, or made contributions elsewhere while living in the state. Inductees are honored at an annual ceremony at the Museum of Aviation, during which each of them receives a Hall of Fame Gold Medallion of Honor and Achievement.
Among the inductees are Eugene Bullard, the African American pilot who became an ace for the French Air Service in World War I (1917-18); aviation pioneer Ben Epps Sr. and his son Ben Epps Jr; General Robert Scott, an ace during World War II (1941-45) and the author of God Is My Co-Pilot; Eddie V. Rickenbacker, renowned World War I ace and commercial aviation pioneer; astronauts John W. Young and Manley L. “Sonny” Carter Jr.; John H. Towers, the U.S. Navy’s third aviator and a military strategist who helped achieve victory in the Pacific Theater of World War II; George H. Gay Jr., the lone survivor of the first wave of U.S. naval aircraft to attack the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway during World War II; famed Tuskegee Airman Charles Dryden; Medal of Honor recipient Joe M. Jackson; aviation pioneering brothers Charles J., Frank S., and Ben Faulkner; Belford David “B.D.” Maule, founder of Maule Air, the oldest small aircraft manufacturer in the state; and Major General Cornelius Nugteren and Robert E. Hails, both former commanders of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins AFB. Several women have also been honored, including the stunt flyer and World War II veteran Hazel Raines and the aviation record setter Jacqueline Cochran.
In 1999 the Georgia legislature enacted a law making GAHF the official repository for documents associated with aviation history in the state. In 2000 the GAHF board created the Chairman’s Award, presented annually to a person who has made distinguished contributions to the Museum of Aviation, GAHF, Robins AFB, or the local community. The inaugural recipient was state legislator Denmark Groover.