Woonsocket, East Providence pilots to be honored by R.I. Aviation Hall
Ludovici, D’Amico receive posthumous recognition Nov. 17
PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame will induct four new members and recognize the contributions of five other individuals at their 16th annual ceremony and dinner to be held at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Cranston on Saturday evening, Nov. 17.
Admiral Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957) headlines the list of honorees. Byrd, retired early from the Navy in 1916 because of an ankle injury, was assigned to be the Inspector-Instructor of the RI Naval Militia in 1916. He supervised the Militia’s acquisition of its first seaplane, and helped usher this state into military aviation. He then became the Militia’s last commander, serving in that capacity until the Militia was federalized on April 6, 1917. He eventually earned his wings at Pensacola and went on to his spectacular career as a polar explorer and pioneer aviator. He will receive Special Recognition accolades.
This year’s Galkin Award, named for the Hall of Fame’s most generous benefactors, goes to Providence inductee John J. Kapstein, a highly decorated World War II attack bomber pilot who became a force in East-West business, entertainment, and cultural trade during the depths of the Cold War. The award, first given in 2017, is named after Warren and Robert Galkin, and is given to an individual whose contribution to aviation includes an advancement of the field, be it though technology, design, implementation, exploration, bold initiative and/or risk-taking.
The R.I. Aviation Hall of Fame will also acknowledge the sacrifice of Air Force Colonel Fredric Moore Mellor, Rhode Island’s 1965 MIA whose remains were so recently returned home.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. Tickets cost $60 each and can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or logging in to our website at www. riahof.org. For further information, please call 401-3981000 or 401-831-8696.
Honorees are selected by an ad hoc committee repre- senting a number of aviation groups. The committee includes all previous inductees, such as Robert Crandall, former chairman of American Airlines; Jennifer Murray, the first woman to fly a helicopter around the world; and Apollo 8 Astronaut Bill Anders.
Among the inductees is CW5 Joseph S. Ludovici, U.S. Army (Ret.) (19382017). He was eight months old when he was taken on his first airplane ride; he soloed on his 16th birthday, after his sophomore year at Woonsocket High School. Joseph was a lifelong pilot, both as a civilian and as a member of the R.I. Army National Guard (19551997).
From 1985 to 1997 he served as an instructor pilot for the Guard, from which he retired as Chief Warrant Officer 5. In 1969, he took over as owner/president of Skylanes, Inc, a fixed base operation at North Central Airport started by his father Sabbie, a 2004 honoree of the R.I. Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2005 the Federal Aviation Administration awarded him the coveted Wright Brothers’ “Master Pilot” Award. Two years later the Aviation Safety Group of Massachusetts presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2008 he received Aero Club of New England’s Rhode Island Award. In addition to his various service awards and commendations, Joe earned the Humanitarian Service Medal when he was activated to support relief efforts during the infamous “Blizzard of 1978”. In Joe’s lifetime, he logged well in excess of 20,000 flight hours, including more than 12,500 in airplanes and more than 7,500 in helicopters. Most of these hours were spent instructing the more than 5,000 students Joe taught to fly.
Among the special recognition honorees is Henry D’Amico (1921-2009), He was born and raised in East Providence, to Italian immigrant parents. A graduate of East Providence High School, he was a WWII fighter pilot who flew 75 combat missions over Europe in his P-47 Thunderbolt, affectionately named Li’l-Rhody. As part of the 9th Air Force, 1st Lieutenant D’Amico flew escort flights, dive bombing and strafing missions, and close support for ground troops. His squadron was the first unit to provide air support for the D-Day operations in the Invasion of Normandy, during which he flew cover over Cherbourg. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, EAME Theater Medal with 4 Bronze Stars for Air Offensive (Europe, Normandy, Northern France, and Germany cam- paigns), and the Air Medal with twelve Oak Leaf Clusters.
He married his sweetheart and attended the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill, where he received a bachelor’s degree in architecture.
He went on to have a very successful career, raised four children with his wife Jean, and spent summers in Rhode Island visiting family.