Alpha Eta Rho

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Alpha Eta Rho
The official crest of Alpha Eta Rho
FoundedApril 10, 1929; 95 years ago (1929-04-10)
University of Southern California
ScopeNational (United States)
MottoCollegiate Aviation Leaders of Today... Aviation Industry Leaders of Tomorrow
ColorsChrome yellow , black , and red
PublicationThe Beam
Members50,000+ lifetime
Headquarters4579 Laclede Ave, Suite 1929
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
United States
WebsiteOfficial website

Alpha Eta Rho (ΑΗΡ) is a coed international professional college aviation fraternity.[1][2] Established in 1929 at the University of Southern California, it was the first professional aviation fraternity.[3] It connects the aviation industry with educational institutions and mentors college students toward successful careers in aviation, aeronautical engineering, and aerospace sciences.[2]

Alpha Eta Rho has chartered over 140 chapters both domestically and internationally.[4]


Earl W. Hill, a professor of aviation at the University of Southern California, established Alpha Eta Rho on April 10, 1929.[5][6] The fraternity's purpose was to bring together students interested in commercial aviation for education and research and to connect them with professionals in the various aviation branches.[5][1][6] It was formed with no boundaries for gender, race, religion, or nationality.[7]

Along with Hill, the fraternity's founding members were John Bonadiman, Joe Burchman, Adam E. Diehl, Dr. Rudolph Hirschberg, Richard Mogle, and Walter Sykes.[8][9] Mogle was elected the student chapter's first president.[9]

An alumni and associate group was organized at the same time and included founding members Herbert Hoover Jr., James G. Wooley who was the vice president of Western Air Express, and five alumni and several instructors of the University of Southern California.[8][9] Hill was elected the fraternity's national president and served in that capacity until he died in 1950.[5] Charles Lindbergh later served as the fraternity's first vice president and Dr. John Franklin Bruce Carruthers was its national historian.[10][11]

By the end of 1933, the fraternity had 39 collegiate members, 72 alumni members, and 55 associate members.[12] New members were selected based on scholarship, character, and an interest in aviation.[13]

Because it accepted international students and its founders included an exchange professor from Germany, the fraternity called itself "international".[7] This label was also aspirational, as Alpha Eta Rho planned on expanding to Canada, Germany, and other countries.[7][8] The fraternity expanded to other campuses, including the University of California, Los Angeles; Duke University; North Carolina State University; Northwestern University; Pasadena Junior College; San Diego State University; and San Jose State University.[1] In 1937, the fraternity was incorporated in the State of California as Alpha Eta Rho International Aviation Fraternity with headquarters in Los Angeles.[14]

The fraternity's activities included meetings with guest speakers, weekly luncheons, trips to airplane factories and related industries, and cross-country flights.[1] Some chapters had a flying team that engaged in intercollegiate aviation competitions with other organizations across the United States.[1] Annually, it awards a scholarship key to the outstanding member of each chapter.[3] The fraternity also awarded scholarships for aviation students.[15]

As of 2023, Alpha Eta Rho has more than 50,000 alumni.[4] Its alumni work in all facets of the aviation industry and related management fields, including airline captains, military aviation flag officers, corporate CEOs, NASA engineers, flight attendants, aircraft mechanics, aviation museum directors, aerospace engineers, and pilots.[16]

Alpha Eta Rho is incorporated in the state of Missouri. Its quarterly newsletter is The Beam.[3]


The Greek letters Alpha Eta Rho stand spell the Greek work "aer" or "air".[17] The letter Alpha also means "first and foremost".[18] The lellter Eta represents the fraternity's seven founders because it is the seventh letter in the Greek alphabet.[18] As the last letter in the word air, Rho stands for density and solar distance, symbolizing the strong bonds of the fraternity's members despite their travels through the aviation industry.[18]

The Alpha Eta Rho badge is shaped like a five-cylinder radial airplane engine with a diagonal propeller on top.[7] The Greek letters Α and Η are above the propeller, with Ρ below the propeller. The heads of the cylinders are decorated with two emeralds and three rubies.[7] Its pledge pin is shaped like a propellor.[19]

The fraternity's colors are chrome yellow, red, and black.[20] Its motto is "Collegiate Aviation Leaders of Today... Aviation Industry Leaders of Tomorrow."[5]


Alpha Eta Rho is overseen by a national board of directors.[6] In addition, the fraternity has a National Student Executive Committee made up of student members. The day-to-day operations of the fraternity are run by Benjamin O'Brien, the organization's National Executive Director.


As of 2023, Alpha Eta Rho has chartered more than 140 chapters across the United States and abroad.[4][21][22]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cunningham, Frank (October 1940). "Greeks With Wings". Flying and Popular Aviation. 27 (4): 42–43. Retrieved June 22, 2023 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b Mark, Robert (2007-06-15). Professional Pilot's Career Guide. McGraw Hill Professional. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-07-148553-1.
  3. ^ a b c Robson, John, ed. (1963). Baird's Manuel of American College Fraternities (17th ed.). Menasha, Wisconsin: The Collegiate Press, George Banta Company, Inc. pp. 498–499.
  4. ^ a b c "Alpha Eta Rho - Pi Chapter - SLU Groups". Saint Louis University. Retrieved 2023-06-30.
  5. ^ a b c d "History of the Fraternity". Alpha Eta Rho. 2014-02-26. Archived from the original on 2014-02-26. Retrieved 2023-06-22 – via web.archive.
  6. ^ a b c Anson, Jack L.; Marchesani, Jr., Robert F., eds. (1991). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (20th ed.). Indianapolis: Baird's Manual Foundation, Inc. pp. V68–V69.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cunningham, Frank (October 1940). "Greeks With Wings". Flying and Popular Aviation. 27 (4): 44. Retrieved June 22, 2023 – via Google Books.
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