Keith Ferris Biography


2012 National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinee Keith Ferris was born in 1929 the son of a career Air Force Officer. He grew up with military aviation, attended Texas A&M majoring in Aeronautical Engineering, George Washington University and Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. He began his art career as a civilian in Air Force Publications at Randolph Field in 1947 and, after five years with St Louis art studio Cassell, Watkins Paul under Air Force contract, Mr. Ferris became a freelance artist in the New York area in 1956 and a member of the Society of Illustrators in 1960. His art has served the advertising, editorial, public relations, and historical documentation needs of the aerospace industry, publications, the military services and air and space museums for 70 years. Mr. Ferris created the 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in oil “Fortresses Under Fire” in the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and the 20 foot by 75 foot Evolution of Jet Aviation mural in the museum’s Jet Aviation Gallery. Having participated in the United States Air Force Art Program for over fifty years while documenting the Air Force mission with art, Mr. Ferris has flown more than 300 hours in jet fighter aircraft and has flown in most all jet aircraft types in the Air Force inventory. He deployed across the Pacific to South East Asia as a civilian back-seater with the first squadron of F-4E Phantoms in 1968 where he participated in missions of the F-4E, the F-105F and the B-52D. He spent a total of eight weeks over a 25-year period flying with the USAF Fighter Weapons Schools at Nellis AFB experiencing the employment of aircraft ranging from the F-100 to the F-15 and F-16. He holds five United States patents for deceptive aircraft paint systems. With 62 major paintings in the Air Force Art Collection, he is a founder and past president of the American Society of Aviation Artists and a Life Member of the Society of Illustrators having served on its board of directors as Air Force Art Chairman for 16 years and for two years as its Executive Vice President. He was elected an honorary member of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds in 1969, an honorary life member of the Order of Daedalians, the national fraternity of military pilots in 1986, and in 1992 was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey. He received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Daniel Webster College in Nashua, NH in 1995 for his years of documenting aviation history through art. Named to the Aviation Week & Space Technology Laureate Hall of Fame in the National Air & Space Museum for Lifetime Achievement in 2004 and is a member of the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in New York. In addition to enshrinement in the National Aviation Hall of Fame as “Dean of Aviation Art”, he was a 2012 recipient of the National Aeronautic Association’s Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award. In 2014 he received the Honorary Aerospace Engineering Engineer Alumni Award from Texas A&M. Keith serves as an Emeritus Trustee of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum.