Daytona Beach, Fla., July 31, 2008 -- A plaque honoring Jack Hunt, the first president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, will be dedicated on the EAA Memorial Wall at Oshkosh (Wisc.) AirVenture 2008 during a ceremony on Sunday, August 3.
Members of the Hunt family and representatives from the university are expected to attend the service. Highlights will include a reading of the names of the new wall inductees, an overhead missing man formation flight, and the playing of “Taps.”
The centerpiece is a monument formed from thousands of stones brought to Oshkosh from EAA members’ home states and countries. Engraved bronze plaques are installed annually to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the aviation industry.
To recognize his lifetime of accomplishments in aviation and his service to Embry-Riddle, the story of Jack Hunt will appear in the EAA’s 2008 Memorial Wall Registry Album, which is available for viewing upon request at the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Biography of Jack R. Hunt:
Known as the father of the modern aviation university, Jack R. Hunt is considered the visionary pioneer of aviation higher learning. As founding president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Hunt transformed a small, for-profit corporation into the only non-profit, fully accredited university in the world exclusively dedicated to aviation and aerospace education.
Under his leadership, the university grew from an institute with under 500 students in 1963 to one with two residential campuses, more than 130 campus centers around the globe, and nearly 35,000 students worldwide today. Hunt established a unique legacy in the aviation and aerospace industry and a time-honored place in Embry-Riddle’s history.
Hunt was born May 17, 1918, in Iowa and grew up in California. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and received lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air naval aviation training. During World War II, he served as an airship flight instructor and a free balloon flight instructor at Moffett Field in California, as well as commanding officer of the airship maintenance squadron. From 1953 to 1956, he served as a development officer for the ZX-11 Airship Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron, dedicated to using airships to prevent a nuclear submarine attack on the Panama Canal.
From 1956 to 1958, Hunt tested the weather tolerance of airships in adverse weather conditions. On March 4, 1957, Hunt, commanding the ZPG-2 airship Snowbird, took off with a crew of 14 in a snowstorm and carried out a non-stop flight of over 9,400 statute miles. They flew from Massachusetts to Europe, Portugal, and Africa, and from the Canary Islands to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Cuba before reaching Key West in 264 hours and 14 minutes. The Snowbird set two world records for staying aloft longer and flying farther without refueling than any other airship. These records remain unsurpassed. For this accomplishment, Hunt received the Distinguished Flying Cross and was presented with the Harmon International Trophy in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower.
In 1963, Hunt became president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute (ERAI) in Miami, Fla. In 1965, he relocated ERAI to Daytona Beach, Fla., where the school has flourished. Receiving accreditation in 1970, it became Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In the 1970s and 1980s, Embry-Riddle established off-campus residence centers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. In 1978, Hunt expanded Embry-Riddle further by establishing a residential campus at Prescott, Ariz.
By the time of his death in 1984, Hunt had transformed Embry-Riddle in just 20 years from what was once perceived as a “shaky air freight line” into a world-renowned aviation and engineering university, thus enabling tens of thousands of students to share his vision that “the sky is home.”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, offers more than 30 degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering. The university educates more than 34,000 students annually in undergraduate and graduate programs at residential campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach, Fla., through its Worldwide Campus at more than 130 centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, and through online learning. For more information, visit www.erau.edu.