NATIONAL AVIATION HERITAGE INVITATIONAL TROPHY RENAMED IN HONOR OF MR. HERB KELLEHER
April 1, 2015

The National Aviation Heritage Invitational (NAHI) is proud to be able to name the Best Large Aircraft trophy in honor of Herb Keller, airline industry icon, founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher, an industry pioneer of the low fare airline model, took Southwest Airlines during his tenure from just three airplanes in 1971 to a fleet of more than 527 airlines in 2008 when Kelleher stepped down. Kelleher stated, "I am incredibly delighted and honored to accept your proposal as to the naming of the large aircraft trophy and suffused with gratitude to you for the idea." As an enshrinee into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Mr. Kelleher has been a regular presenter at the event.

For the last 16 years the annual National Aviation Heritage Invitational is held in conjunction with the National Championship Air Races and 2015 promises to be another tremendous year for the vintage aircraft competition. More than 220,000 attended the air races last year and also viewed the competition this last year.

The Invitational gives aircraft owners and restorers the opportunity to bring their skillfully restored aircraft to the high desert of northern Nevada and compete for a number of trophies.

"We are gearing up for another outstanding event," said Ken Perich, Executive Director of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational. "We are thrilled to be working closely with the Pathways to Aviation Foundation and to playing a significant role in the National Championship Air Races non-racing events." The National Aviation Heritage Invitational competition encourages the preservation and restoration of historic aircraft to airworthy condition and to the very highest standards of workmanship and historical accuracy.

Participants compete in five categories and they all vie for the ultimate award~ the Grand Champion Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage trophy. All aircraft are eligible to be voted by the general public attending the Air Races for the National Aviation Hall of Fame People's Choice Award.

  • Best Antique: The Orville and Wilber Wright Trophy. This includes all eligible civil aircraft flying 1934 or earlier.
  • Best Classic: The Paul E. Garber Trophy. This includes all eligible civil aircraft flying in years 1935-1955.
  • Best Contemporary: The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Trophy. This new trophy...... Civil Aircraft manufactured between 1956 to 1970 (for this year). This moves each year to be 45 years old.
  • Best Military: The Henry "Hap"Arnold Trophy. Includes all eligible military aircraft flying 1970 or before (to be 45 years old).
  • Best Large Aircraft: The Herb Kelleher Trophy, Includes all eligible aircraft, flying 1970 or before (to be 45 years old) with wingspans of 45 feet or more.

The presentations will take place on Sunday, September 20 at the National Aviation Heritage Static display area on the grounds of the Reno Air Races. Presenters in the past have included National Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinees including Clarence 'Bud' Anderson, Dick Rutan, Patty Wagstaff, Gene Cernan, Robert A. 'Bob' Hoover and Mr. Herb Kelleher.

The Heritage is held in conjunction with the Reno National Championship Air Races and celebrates aviation treasures. This endeavor is a joint effort under the auspices of Perform Air, the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Reno Air Racing Foundation, with support from the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, Reno Air Racing Association, Air Transport World, Airmail Greetings, Air and Space Smithsonian Magazine, LiveAirShowTV, The Perich Group and Speed News. The National Aviation Heritage Invitational encourages preservation of aviation history through the restoration of aircraft to original flying condition. The Invitational was founded in 1998. A five-member panel, including representatives of the National Air and Space Museum, judges each aircraft on its technical merit and how well it represents the aircraft early in its career. Authenticity to the original manufacturer's condition is the "gold standard" for each plane.

The National Aviation Heritage Invitational encourages preservation of aviation history through the restoration of aircraft to original flying condition. The Invitational is a joint effort under the partnership the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Reno Air Racing Foundation and was founded in 1998. A five-member panel, including representatives of the National Air and Space Museum, judges each aircraft on its technical merit and how well it represents the aircraft early in its career. Authenticity to the original manufacturer's condition is the "gold standard" for each plane.

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