Alpha Eta Rho (ΑΗΡ) is a coed international professional college aviation fraternity that serves as a contact between the aviation industry and educational institutions. The fraternity strives to foster, promote, and mentor today's college students towards successful careers in aviation, aeronautical engineering, and aerospace sciences. Alpha Eta Rho serves to actively associate interested students of aviation with leaders and executives in the industry. This close association, strengthened through the bonds of an international aviation fraternity, establishes opportunities for all members in their relation to aviation and inspires interest and cooperation among those in the profession who are also members of Alpha Eta Rho.

Established in 1929, it is the oldest professional aviation fraternity in history. Alpha Eta Rho has had over one hundred thirty five chapters both domestically and internationally. The Eta chapter at San Jose State University is the oldest active chapter, being founded April 27, 1940. Currently over seventy chapters are active on campuses throughout the United States. The alumni of the fraternity are found in all facets of the aviation industry and related management fields. These include airline captains, military aviation Flag Officers, corporate CEO's, NASA engineers, flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, aviation museum directors, aerospace engineers, and pilots. There are currently 42 active chapters at colleges and universities with over 45,000 Alumni of Alpha Eta Rho. Alpha Eta Rho accepts over 1,000 new members each year.

Scholarships are also available to active members on a yearly basis.

Alpha Eta Rho is incorporated in the State of Missouri, and is a non-hazing organization.

National history

Alpha Eta Rho International Aviation Fraternity is a professional collegiate fraternity founded to bring together those students having a common interest in the field of commercial aviation. Since 1929, the organization has fostered a unique bond among fellow aviators and aviation enthusiasts and has aspired to uphold our longstanding motto of "Collegiate Aviation Leaders of Today...Aviation Industry Leaders of Tomorrow."

Alpha Eta Rho, the Greek letters which stand for “AIR,” came into being to fulfill a definite need of the time. On the campus of the University of Southern California in the spring of 1929, enrollment in aviation courses was surprisingly high. Faculty members, as well as students, were voicing the need for an extracurricular activity for promoting and organizing the unified interest in aviation. Led by Earl W. Hill, Professor of Aviation at the University of Southern California, Alpha Eta Rho was organized on April 10, 1929. After receiving official recognition by the university, the first official election of officers was held on May 23, 1929. Under the leadership of Hill, Founder and National President for 21 years until his death in 1950, Alpha Eta Rho continued to grow in size and reputation within collegiate academia and the aviation industry.

Marshall C. Benedict, an employee of United Airlines, succeeded Earl W. Hill as National President of Alpha Eta Rho (ΑΗΡ) in 1950. Benedict served in this capacity until 1963, at which time he had become involved with the FAA. Benedict was recalled to active duty with the United States Air Force for a 16-month period from June 1951 until October 1952, and during this period John Goodwin temporarily assumed the position of National President. Benedict resigned in 1963 and was succeeded by Ray Mertes, a great supporter of aviation education while with United Airlines. Mertes died unexpectedly in 1965 and was succeeded by Gene Kropf, Public Affairs Officer of the Western Region of the FAA. Known within the aviation circle as "The Red Baron," Kropf served as National President until 1981 at which time he resigned to accept the position of Chairman of the Board of Alpha Eta Rho. Dr. Harold S. Wood, then National Secretary-Treasurer for Alpha Eta Rho accepted the position of National President. Professor Wood was Chairman of the Aeronautics Department at Parks College of St. Louis University and was responsible for the growth and modern expansion of Alpha Eta Rho, The University Aviation Association (UAA), and the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA). He managed the National offices of Alpha Eta Rho at Parks College from 1950 to his retirement in 1986.

On July 1, 1988, Harold Wood resigned as National President to accept the position of Chairman of the Board of Alpha Eta Rho with the passing of Gene Kropf “The Red Baron”. Professor Wayne E. White, a retired faculty member of Boise State University, accepted the position of National President. Professor White served as the National President until his death in 1997.

Professor Ronald Kelly of Southern Illinois University was elected as National President in 1997. Kelly is a member of the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame and was a long-time volunteer leader in collegiate aviation circles. Kelly was the founder of the Sigma Chapter of AHP at Southern Illinois University in 1963 and an early pioneer of their aviation program. In addition to his efforts to expand the collegiate aviation programs at Southern Illinois University, Kelly served in various leadership capacities at a national level with the NIFA and NIFA Foundation. In April 2008, Professor Ronald Kelly died and was succeeded by the current National President of Alpha Eta Rho, Capt. Robert H. Clement. Clement is the first student alumni of Alpha Eta Rho to serve as National President. Clement pledged the Pi Chapter of Alpha Eta Rho at Parks College of St. Louis University in 1969. During the period from 1968 to 1973, Clement served as a student volunteer and Special Assistant to Professor Harold Wood at the National Office of Alpha Eta Rho at Parks College. Upon graduation from Parks College, Clement served 21 years as an officer and aviator in carrier-based naval aviation. Capt. Clement was in the initial cadre of the fleet introduction of the F-14A “Tomcat”, a graduate of “Top Gun” and the Naval Aviation Postgraduate Safety Program, and former Commanding Officer of the VF-111 “Sundowners” embarked on USS Kitty Hawk. Upon his retirement from the US Navy, Capt. Clement joined FedEx in 1996 and is currently flying the MD-11 in both domestic and international operations. Clement is a member of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and serves on the FedEx ALPA Safety Committee. Prior to assuming the duties of ΑΗΡ National President, Clement had provided 42 years of volunteer service to Alpha Eta Rho and the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) in various leadership positions.

In January 2010, Alpha Eta Rho embarked upon the largest change in its modern history. The Board of Directors voted to expand its membership to include two new vice presidents; Vice President of Communications and Technology and Vice President of Alumni Affairs. In the challenge to modernize and enhance the services of Alpha Eta Rho to its active membership, alumni, industry, and the collegiate aviation community, Alpha Eta Rho hired its first National Executive Director.

Through the leadership all the individuals aforementioned, Alpha Eta Rho has grown internationally. The alumni membership of Alpha Eta Rho is large and is prevalent throughout the worldwide aviation industry. Currently, there are over ninety active chapters of Alpha Eta Rho. Over the years, an additional fifty chapters have been established but have become inactive. Approximately one thousand new members are being initiated into Alpha Eta Rho every year.

The fraternity serves as a contact between the aviation industry and educational institutions. It bands into one organization: outstanding students, interested faculty and industry leaders for the purpose of studying the problems of everyday life as influenced by this modern industry—aviation.

Fraternity values


  • To enlighten the serious aerospace student on the facts concerning all fields directly related to aerospace.
  • To unite people with an interest in aviation and to share opinions and views on aviation subject matter


  • To further the cause of aviation in all of its branches
  • To instill in the public mind a confidence in aviation and its safety
  • To promote contacts between the students of aviation and those engaged in the profession
  • To promote a close affiliation between the students of aviation for the purposes of education and research in the field
  • To maintain and promote the highest moral standards as members of this unique fraternity

Fundamental Tenets:

  1. It shall be the bounden duty of every member to aid and encourage his fellow pilots in every manner possible.
  2. Every pilot of Alpha Eta Rho shall bend his earnest efforts to the advancement of the profession.
  3. Each member shall strive at all times to create goodwill toward aeronautics through the implantation in the public mind of a confidence to be built up by the presentation of facts in their proper light.
  4. The upholding and advancement of the ethics of aviation shall be a basic aim of each individual member.
  5. Each pilot shall at all times so conduct himself as to reflect honor upon his profession, his fraternity, and himself.

Board of directors

  • Julia Jones - Executive Director
  • Tony Mensching - National President
  • Peter Bro - National Vice President
  • Cody Evans - National Vice President of Alumni Affairs
  • Scott Vlasek - National Treasurer
  • Robert Clement - National Chairman
  • Dr. Kent Backart - National Chairman Emeritus
  • Miles Greif - National Student President

Notable alumni

  • Joe Leonard - AirTran Airways CEO


Chapter School Date Formed
ΠΙΧ Pi Iota Chi Oklahoma State University 10 May 2012
Α Alpha University of Southern California 10 April 1929
ΛΨ Lambda Psi Jacksonville University
ΑΑ Alpha Alpha University of Alaska
ΜΑΧ Mu Alpha Chi Fairmont State University
ΑΔ Alpha Delta Wilmington University
ΜΗΣ Mu Eta Sigma University of Maryland Eastern Shore
ΜIA Mu Iota Alpha Florida Memorial University
ΑΠ Alpha Pi Texas State Technical Institute
ΜΚΤ Mu Kappa Tau Minnesota State University, Mankato
ΑΣ Alpha Sigma Arizona State University
ΜΤ Mu Tau Alternate Site Middle Tennessee State University
ΑΧ Alpha Chi Averett University
Ν Nu Mt. San Antonio College
Β Beta Purdue University 20 November 1962
Σ Sigma Southern Illinois University 10 October 1963
ΒΒ Beta Beta Henderson State University
ΞΤ Xi Tau Central Texas College
ΒΓ Beta Gamma Bowling Green State University
Ο Omicron Southeastern Oklahoma State University
ΒΕ Beta Epsilon San Juan College
ΟΣΥ Omicron Sigma Upsilon The Ohio State University
ΣΒΧ Sigma Beta Chi Spartan School of Aeronautics
ΒΣ Beta Sigma Vincennes University
ΟΥ Omicron Upsilon Ohio University
Γ Gamma Auburn University 5 December 1969
ΟΨ Omicron Psi University of Louisiana at Monroe
Δ Delta University of North Dakota
ΔΔ Delta Delta San Jacinto College
Π Pi St. Louis University
ΔΠ Delta Pi Northwestern State University
Σ Sigma Southern Illinois University
ΔΣ Delta Sigma Delaware State College
ΣΑ Sigma Alpha Florida Institute of Technology
ΔΦ Delta Phi Mercer County Community College
ΣΔ Sigma Delta Daniel Webster College 5 May 1990
ΔΨ Delta Psi Delta State University
ΣΝ Sigma Nu Cypress College
ΕΡ Epsilon Rho Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach
ΣΦ Sigma Phi Metropolitan State College of Denver
ΣΞΩ Sigma Xi Omega Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology 24 April 2008
ΕΤ Epsilon Tau Ivy Tech
ΣΧ Sigma Chi Eastern Michigan University
Ζ Zeta Dowling College
ΣΧΥ Sigma Chi Upsilon St. Cloud State University
Η Eta San Jose State University 27 April 1940
ΤΣ Tau Sigma Tennessee State University 19 Nov 1970
ΗΚΥ Eta Kappa Upsilon Eastern Kentucky University
ΥΔ Upsilon Delta University of Dubuque
ΗΠ Eta Pi Broward College
ΥΝΟ Upsilon Nu Omicron University of Nebraska at Omaha
Θ Theta Western Michigan University 8 April 1967
Φ Phi State University of New York at Farmingdale
ΙΡ Iota Rho Indiana State University
ΦΒΣ Phi Beta Sigma Bridgewater State University 17 September 1983
ΚΑ Kappa Alpha Kent State University
ΦΚ Phi Kappa St. Francis College
ΚΝ Kappa Nu University of Nebraska at Kearney
ΦΛΥ Phi Lambda Upsilon Utah State University
ΚΣΥ Kappa Sigma Upsilon Kansas State University
Χ Chi University of Illinois
ΛΠ Lambda Pi University of Central Missouri
ΧΟ Chi Omicron College of the Ozarks
ΛΡ Lambda Rho Lewis University 16 February 1969
ΧΡ Chi Rho Central Washington University
ΛΤ Lambda Tau Louisiana Tech University
ΧΣ Chi Sigma Chattanooga State Technical Community College
ΣΔΣ Sigma Delta Sigma South Dakota State University
ΥΜ Upsilon Mu University of Minnesota Crookston March 2005
ΕΝ Epsilon Nu Utah Valley University 1 December 2010
ΕΑ Epsilon Alpha Shasta College 27 November 1996

External links