A Texarkana pilot will be one of five new inductees into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame on Thursday.
Don Ruggles, a helicopter pilot who was a founder of LifeNet in Texarkana, will be honored by the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society at a ceremony in Little Rock.
The ceremony recognizes "outstanding Arkansans for their significant contributions to the development of aviation either in the state or nation," according to the Society.
Ruggles founded LifeNet of Arkansas in 1983 and was instrumental in bringing the first Emergency Medical Service (EMS) helicopter service to Arkansas in that year. The same year he founded Helicopters Southwest based in Texarkana and since then his company has flown over 10,000 accident free missions throughout Arkansas and Texas.
Ruggles has been involved in many civic and charitable endeavors including as a member of the Arkansas Aeronautics Commission and as Chairman of the Texarkana Airport Commission. He was the recipient the Wilbur Award for Exemplary Community Service in Texarkana for 2019.
Additionally, $3,000 scholarships will given to 20 students enrolled in professional pilot degree programs at Henderson State University, Ozarka College, and Liberty University (online). One of the scholarship recipients is Dalton Sharp from Maud, Texas, who is studying at HSU.
Proceeds from the Hall of Fame event — now in its 36th year — are used to fund the scholarships.
The induction ceremoney is at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Cals Ron Robinson Theater, 100 Rock Street in Little Rock.
The other inductees are Russ Amos, Ron Herron, J. O. Dockery (deceased) and Dennis Cantrell (deceased).
The AAHS was founded in 1979. Since then, 113 men and women have been honored. Additionally, the Society collects and preserves the history of aviation in Arkansas and has awarded scholarships since 2015.
(For more information about Arkansas Aviation Historical Society visit arkavhs.org online.)