by Jim Bildilli
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – On May 7, 2015, the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame and the Illinois Military Aviation Hall of Fame were finally combined and put on display in Springfield’s A. Lincoln Capital Airport terminal. The commemorative wall is the result of nearly a three-year effort by the Aviation History and Educational Center (AHEC) to develop a permanent home for both halls of fame where the public can view the names of the inductees.
The current display only represents phase one of a two-phase effort dedicated to the bringing honor to those Illinois residents who have made significant contributions to aviation and service to their country. The second phase will include an interactive touch screen where the public can bring up pictures, additional information about individual inductees, their Illinois hometowns, and their accomplishments.
The current effort was funded through donations and membership in AHEC. The second phase of the project will require a significant amount of additional funding to secure not only the computer hardware, but to construct the data base that will be used for the informational searches.
Besides maintaining the displays, plans for the future include an effort to bring a futuristic spacecraft flight simulator to central Illinois that is designed to teach math and science to youth, become a repository for precious historical aviation artifacts, models, books, periodicals, documents and interviews on digital media, which will include thousands of photographs. Ultimately, the center’s long-range plan is to construct a hangar and reference area that will be open to the public for teaching, research and various aviation-related social events. The center has been working closely with the Springfield Airport Authority to coordinate its current and future plans.