About Us

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


Alpha Eta Rho is a collegiate fraternity founded to bring together those students having a common interest in the field of aviation. Alpha Eta Rho, the Greek letters which stand for "air," came into being to fulfill a definite need at the time. Enrollment in the aviation courses on the campus of the University of Southern California in the spring semester of 1928 and 1929 was surprisingly large; faculty members and students were voicing the need for an extracurricular activity for organizing and promoting this interest in aviation.

Alpha Eta Rho was organized on April 10, 1929 by Professor Earl W. Hill, an instructor at USC, with the assistance of others on the faculty. After receiving official recognition by the university, the first election of officers was held on May 23, 1929. Under the leadership of Hill, founder and national president for 21 years, Alpha Eta Rho continued to grow in size and stature within the college and the aviation industry. Professor Hill remained in office as president until his death in 1950.

Marshall Benedict, an employee of United Airlines, became the second national president of the fraternity in 1950. In June 1951, Benedict was recalled to active duty in the Air Force; John Goodwin took over the presidency for a sixteen month period, until Benedict was able to return in October 1952.

Benedict, now in association with the FAA, served as president until 1963. Ray Mertes, a great supporter of aviation education, replaced Benedict in 1963. Mertes, who worked for United Airlines, died unexpectedly in 1965. Gene Kropf, a public affairs officer for the Western Region of the FAA, served as national president until 1981. Kropf, also known as the Red Baron, resigned in order to accept the position of Chairman of the Board of Alpha Eta Rho. At that time, Harold Wood (who had been the National Secretary-Treasurer for almost 20 years) at Parks College accepted the position of president.

Harold Wood served as president for seven years, until July 1, 1988, when he resigned to accept the Chairman of the Board position. It was at this time that Wayne E. White retired from Boise State University and accepted the position of national president.

Through the leadership of these six dedicated men, Alpha Eta Rho has grown internationally. The alumni membership of the fraternity is large and distributed throughout the aviation industry.

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