Aero Club of Northern California News

Steve Hinton, champion unlimited air racer and former holder of the world speed record for propeller-driven aircraft, became the 34th recipient of the Crystal Eagle Award from the Aero Club of Northern California on October 15, 2016. The award is presented annually to honor those whose aviation and space achievements are among the nation’s highest.

Hinton, who won six unlimited air races including two national championships, is president of the Planes of Fame air museum and owner of Fighter Rebuilders, a world-renowned aviation company devoted to the restoration of Warbirds, both at Chino Airport in Southern California.

Hinton was an unlimited air race pilot for 13 years, flying the “Red Baron,” “Tsunami ” and “Super Corsair.” He won National Championships in 1978 in the Red Baron and in 1985 in Super Corsair. His 1978 win of the Reno Air Races Unlimited Championship at age 26 made him the youngest champion ever until his son, Steven Hinton Jr. won the championship at age 22 in 2009.

On August 4, 1979, Hinton set the 3-kilometer world speed record for piston-driven aircraft at 499.018 mph in the RB-51 Red Baron, a highly-modified P-51 Mustang, at Tonopah, Nevada. At age 27, he was the youngest person to hold that record, which stood until 1989. He retired from racing in 1990.

Hinton is a charter member of the Motion Picture Pilots Association, and since 1976 has worked on more than 60 films as a pilot or aerial coordinator.

The Crystal Eagle Award was first presented by the Aero Club in 1983 to legendary aviator Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Among the past recipients were Gen. Chuck Yeager, Jim Nissen, Burt Rutan, Jeana Yeager, Darryl Greenamyer, Paul Poberezny, Wayne Handley, A. Scott Crossfield, Clay Lacy, Elgen Long, Eileen Collins, Sean D. Tucker, Steve Fossett, Phil Boyer, Mike Melvill, Brian Shul, Julie Clark, Thomas E. Leonard and Alan Eustace.

The Aero Club also presented National Aeronautic Association Certificate awards to unlimited air racer Dan Martin and to Warren “Carl” Honaker, manager of Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA, for their life-long contributions to the advancement of flight.

The club awarded scholarships to San Jose State University Aviation Department students Michelle Tripp, Tyler Hernandez and Richard Bandy.