Aviation Hall Inducts Cliff Robertson

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The Associated Press
Saturday, July 15, 2006; 11:20 PM

DAYTON, Ohio -- Cliff Robertson was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The actor, who grew up in La Jolla, Calif., would wash airplanes and clean engines as a teenager in hopes that a pilot would give him a ride and a lesson.

In 1969, he organized an effort to fly food and medical supplies into Biafra, which had declared independence from Nigeria. And in 1978, he organized a similar effort for famine-stricken Ethiopia.

"Gliding is my Walden Pond," said Robertson, 80, who most recently reprised his role as the avuncular Uncle Ben Parker in the upcoming "Spiderman 3."

Others enshrined included Bessie Coleman, the first black American to earn a pilot's license, and Robert White, the first person to fly six times the speed of sound.

Film producer Tony Bill served as master of ceremonies at the enshrinement event.

Bill, 65, who has been a pilot for 50 years, directed "Flyboys," which opens Sept. 29 and is about the birth of aerial combat during World War I. He won an Oscar for best picture in 1973 for producing "The Sting."

The aviation hall was founded in 1962 in Dayton, the hometown of the Wright brothers, and later established by Congress. Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first of 186 enshrinees.

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© 2006 The Associated Press

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