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Ohio Aviation Center Receives Art honoring the Enola Gay Mission

(COLUMBUS, OHIO – February 22, 2024) - The non-profit Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Learning Center (OAS) recently accepted the gift of an original work of art honoring the late U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., who piloted the August 6, 1945 mission that led to the end of World War II.

On January 20 at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, the artist, John Shaw, unveiled the oil painting titled “The Peacemakers,” which patron Mark Davis of Phoenix, Arizona, then presented to OAS Executive Director Ron Kaplan. The 35” by 65” canvas depicts then Col. Tibbets, pilot, and two of his closest crewmen, Thomas Ferebee, and Dutch Van Kirk, with their B-29 Superfortress, ENOLA GAY, as it was being prepared on the island of Tinian the day before they would drop the first of two atomic bombs that would result in Japan’s surrender. The painting’s 45” by 74’ frame uniquely displays Tibbets’ autograph along with each of the eleven crew members who served aboard that historic mission.

Tibbets, an Illinois native, lived the majority of his post-service years in Central Ohio, where in 1964, he was a founding board member and president of Executive Jet Aviation (now NetJets), from which he retired in 1987. He passed away in Columbus on November 1, 2007, at age 92. Davis, an avid collector of historic aviation art and Vice-President of PerformAir International, based in Gilbert, Arizona, felt that the OAS Learning Center would be the most appropriate organization to display the art and signatures.

Artist John Shaw’s “The Peacemakers” with signatures of ENOLA GAY crew members is presented to the Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Education Center. In this photo, left to right, Mark Davis, John Shaw, and Ron Kaplan.

NetJets is headquartered at John Glenn International Airport (formerly Port Columbus), not far from the original 1929 air terminal that will serve as the home of the OAS. Among OAS’s growing list of partners and supporters are The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies, the State of Ohio, the Wright Brothers Foundation, FlightSafety International, and NetJets.

Donor Davis and artist Shaw collaborated on both meticulously researching the project and tracking down the twelve crew signatures. They believe that only one other collector has assembled all twelve autographs in one place, enhancing “The Peacemakers” historic value. Shaw, of Central Florida, is renowned for the historical accuracy of his work, which often depicts notable people and moments in military history. His paintings have enjoyed worldwide acclaim, and many lithograph editions of his works, available through Liberty Studios, have quickly sold out.

In accepting the work on behalf of the OAS, Kaplan offered his gratitude, saying, “’The Peacemakers’ is among John Shaw’s finest works. We thank Mark Davis for generously and so tangibly acknowledging the merits of the Arts –the “A” in our aviation STEAM education mission. This remarkable gift is the first original in what will be a gallery of images that enable us to vividly depict the legacies of Ohio’s pioneers of flight.” For more information or to contribute, visit www.OhioAirandSpace.org.

Information provided by the Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Education Center

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