Cache Valley World War I hero featured in Utah Aviation Hall of Fame video (with audio and video)

<em>“Wellsville was given a special treat in July of 1924, when Lieutenant Russell L. Maughan of the Army Air Force, a grandson of Peter Maughan, landed his airplane in an alfalfa field above William G. Darley’s barn.  It was a small one-seated biplane, which was to become a museum piece.  He had become a pioneer in his own right in the field of aviation when he made the first dawn to dusk flight from New York to San Francisco in twenty-two hours.  When the aircraft landed on the flat ground near the hills, it was the immediate mecca of the citizens for miles around.”</em>

Memorialized in the “Windows of Wellsville,” a 1985 publication of the Wellsville History Committee, Russell L. Maughan was one of Logan’s native sons who served valiantly in the U.S. Army during World War I.  In 1990, Cache County’s Sons of Utah Pioneers placed a commemorative plaque at the home on Logan’s Center Street where he was born, and another monument sharing his courageous story has been erected on the south side of Utah State University’s Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

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The most recent tribute to Col. Maughan is a 5-minute biographical video recently contracted by the <a href=”https://www.aerospaceutah.org/hill-aerospace-museum/utah-aviation-hall-of-fame/”>Utah Aviation Hall of Fame</a>, where Maughan is celebrated both as a war hero and as an ambitious test pilot during times of peace.  Decorated for his bravery in wartime, he also set several speed records in early aviation. In 1924, he was the first pilot to complete a transcontinental “dawn to dusk flight,” achieving the world’s greatest stride in aviation until Charles A. Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic from New York to Paris in May 1927.

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“I think it’s very cool to hear his story and see the video and just learn more about him,” said Robb Alexander, executive director of the <a href=”https://www.aerospaceutah.org/”>Aerospace Heritage Foundation</a>. “I think it’s great for Cache County to have a native son be in the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame with all these other people. You know, they all have cool stories. They all have families. It’s interesting how they kind of got where they are.”

Maughan is in good company within the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame. Some of the “other people” Alexander mentioned include <a href=”http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=g000072″>Senator Jake Garn</a>, Hinckley Institute Founder <a href=”http://www.hinckley.utah.edu/robert-h-hinckley/”>Robert H. Hinckley</a> and Medal of Honor winner <a href=”http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/494757/uncommon-gallantry-remembering-bernard-fisher/”>Bernard Fisher</a>. There are 30 members of the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame to date, with the most recent, <a href=”http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/105848/lieutenant-general-marc-c-reynolds/”>Lt. Gen. Marc C. Reynolds</a>, having been inducted on May 27, 2017. The prestigious corps was sanctioned in 1996 by Governor Mike Leavitt.

Like Maughan, each inductee into the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame is being honored with a life sketch video, complete with historical footage, newspapers clippings and vintage photos. Eric Temple, owner of <a href=”http://hwy89media.com/”>Highway 89 Media</a> in Ogden, Utah, is the producer of each piece.

“It’s been really my dream job because I love aviation and history and I’ve learned so much about each of the battles that these men and women were in,” said Temple, who has been working on the project for about two years. “I’ve been learning aviation history, and it’s just been the best of all possible worlds for me.”

Prior to a recent renovation, the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame wasn’t much more than a display of plaques on a wall, located inconspicuously between two hangars in the <a href=”https://www.aerospaceutah.org/hill-aerospace-museum/”>Hill Aerospace Museum</a> in Roy, Utah.  It has since been revitalized and expanded to include four interactive kiosks, obelisk tributes to each inductee and screens for viewing the videos.

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“It makes history come alive,” said Temple. “Anybody in today’s world is more accustomed to looking at their phone than they are to reading a plaque on a wall, and these videos are a great way to bring a story to life. One of the best things that’s happened to me since I’ve been doing this is I went to the museum and just stood back and watched, and all four kiosks were full with kids watching different videos, and that just was great. That was the best positive feedback I could have gotten.”

Based on his contributions to aviation history, Col. Russel L. Maughan is arguably one of Cache Valley’s best kept secrets. Born in Logan on March 28, 1893, he graduated from Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University), served in both World Wars and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, pioneer settler <a href=”https://familysearch.org/patron/v2/TH-300-44372-974-25/dist.pdf?ctx=ArtCtxPublic”>Peter Maughan</a>, making history not across the plains, but instead through the skies. Col. Maughan died in Texas in 1958. Alexander, himself a descendant of Peter Maughan, encourages the community to experience the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame firsthand.

“The Utah Aviation Hall of Fame is unique,” he said.  “For a history buff or somebody that might be related to these people somehow or that has an interest in aviation or interest in the history of Utah, it’s an interactive area that you can come learn about these wonderful aviation pioneers. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just a neat thing.”

More information about the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame is available at <a href=”http://www.aerospaceutah.org/hill-aerospace-museum/utah-aviation-hall-of-fame”>www.aerospaceutah.org/hill-aerospace-museum/utah-aviation-hall-of-fame</a>. Videos of each inductee may be viewed at <a href=”http://www.aerospaceutah.org/hall-fame-members”>www.aerospaceutah.org/hall-fame-members</a>. 

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