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Four to be Inducted into Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame | Community Spirit

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Four to be Inducted into Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame
Four to be Inducted into Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame

Four Georgia aviators join the ranks of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame Saturday, April 21st during an enshrinement banquet, a Museum of Aviation news release says.

They are: 

  • Colonel Stanley Newcomb Collins, Jr. -- a Marin Corp pilot who later flew for Delta Airlines.
  • Jack Gray-- the man credited with building the original Atlanta Airport.
  • Robert David McSwiggan-- an instructor who gave over 1,500 check rides at the Griffin Airport
  • Major Stephen Wesley Pless-- the only Marine pilot in Vietnam to receive the Medal of Honor


Collins and McSwiggin are slated to attend; Gray and Pless are deceased.  

The banquet will be held in the Museum’s Century of Flight Hangar starting at 6 p.m. The evening begins with a one-hour reception surrounded by historic aircraft in the hangar which houses the displays of the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.


Guests will then be treated to a gourmet dinner and live presentations to each of the four honorees.


See more about each inductee's aviation accomplishments:


  • Stanley Newcomb Collins, Jr. – Stan Collins is a proven leader in military, commercial, and general aviation in Georgia. After serving on active duty as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps, Collins joined Delta Airlines where he became a check airman and L-1011 Captain.  Collins was active in the Civil Air Patrol, eventually becoming the Director of Operations for the Georgia Wing. He has also served as Chief Instructor with the PDK Flight Academy, a pilot for Angel Flight, and as a Georgia FAA Aviation Safety Counselor. 


  • Jack Gray - Jack Gray was responsible for building the Atlanta Airport into one of the world’s greatest commercial aviation facilities. Taught to fly by Thomas Sopwith, he subsequently flew observation aircraft during Pershing’s expedition into Mexico and for the French during World War I. In 1929 Gray came to the Atlanta airport when it was little more than a grown-over patch of property with little to recommend it as a landing field for the flimsy aircraft of that day. When he left 32 years later it was recognized as one of the world’s great airports. Largely because of his early efforts, it would ultimately achieve international recognition as the world’s busiest airport. 


  • Robert David McSwiggan - Robert McSwiggan is directly responsible for turning the Griffin Airport into a center for aviation training and charter services in Middle Georgia. Beginning in 1972 when he purchased the Fixed Based Operations at the Griffin Airport, McSwiggan has helped over 5000 students share the thrills of flying and go on to careers in aviation. He has logged more than 1500 check rides with the flight school, and has flown many hours as an Airline Check Pilot. He was even contracted to the Federal Aviation Administration as an instructor to train FAA Inspectors and Evaluators.


  • Stephen Wesley Pless - Born in Newnan Georgia, Pless served as a UH-1 ‘Huey’ helicopter pilot in Vietnam from August 1966 until September 1967.   During this tour, Pless successfully flew 780 combat missions, including a rescue of soldiers trapped by heavy enemy fire for which he received the Medal of Honor. Pless was the 18th marine to receive the Medal of Honor during the course of the Vietnam War, but was the only Marine aviator to do so. After his return from Vietnam, Pless served as a Flight Instructor before he was killed in a motorcycle accident in Pensacola, Florida.




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