By Jonathan Stroud
Thursday, November 17, 2016 the San Diego Air & Space Museum held their annual “Legends of Flight” Hall of Fame Gala. The museum selected eight honorees based on their historic contributions to aviation and space as well as their aerospace outreach efforts and achievements. The inductees joined over 200 aviation pilots, visionaries, engineers, business leaders, and space pioneers that have previously been honored.
The honorees included: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Boeing Company, Coast Guard Aviation, Dale Myers, Non-Skeds, ORBIS International Flying Eye Hospital, America’s Aviation Family of Excellence, and Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden.
During the Gala, the museum held a special tribute to the late International Air & Space Hall of Fame inductees R. A. “Bob” Hoover and Bill Gibbs. Hoover, United States Air Force test pilot and fighter pilot, was inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame in 2007. He was known as the “pilot’s pilot” and revolutionized modern aerobatic flying. He passed away on October 25, 2016 at the age of 94.
The San Diego aviation pioneer and philanthropist Bill Gibbs was inducted into the museum’s Hall of Fame in 2011 and passed away on October 29, 2016 at the age of 106. Jim Kidrick, President & CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum, said, “Bill Gibbs lived through almost the entire history of aviation, and certainly through the history of aviation in San Diego. He will always hold a special place in the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.”
The evening began with a VIP reception where inductees signed Hall of Fame paintings by Stan Stokes and Benjamin Alire Sáenz, symbolizing their induction. The inductees also answered media questions. The reception was followed by dinner for the inductees and event guests as well as a presentation of awards and acceptance speeches.
Notable attendees to the event included Apollo 8 astronaut William “Bill” Anders, one of the first people to have left Earth’s orbit and traveled to the Moon; astronaut Vance DeVoe Brand, command Module Pilot during the first U.S.-Soviet joint spaceflight in 1975 and Commander of three Space Shuttle missions; and current Orbital ATK President Frank L. Culbertson, as seen below with inductee Al Worden.
During the presentation, the Air and Space museum teased their newest exhibit, “Be The Astronaut,” which is set to open February 2017. The new exhibit will be comprised of three interactive sections where guests go through separate phases to learn what it takes to live in space. Comprised of two smart boards and a simulator stage, guests design space stations, spacecraft, and buildings on other planets to test their creations.
The Air and Space museum’s Marketing and Communications Director David Neville explained, “the goal of the exhibit is to teach about STEM with interactive elements built in. If you’re a fan of space, I think you’d find it great, even adults. It [the exhibit] really matches what is important about STEM, in the past and for the future, and the message we’re trying to get across.”
Acceptance speeches were given by organization representatives and individual honorees during the festivities. Notable acceptance speeches included the late Dale Myers’s daughters, who read a poem to honor their father, and Al Worden, who recited a short poem from his Hello Earth Greetings From Endeavour book. Individuals accepting nominations on behalf of their associations included CEO Mark Baker for AOPA, head of military research and development Jeff Evens for Boeing, Vice Admiral John Currier and Vice Commandant Stan Weiss of the U.S. Coast Guard for Coast Guard aviation, Hal Cope and Ralph Cox for Non-Skeds, and Jack McHale for Orbis.
All funds from the event are used to help support the museum’s youth education programs which cultivate STEM learning. Read more about the programs by Clicking Here.
Check out more picture from the night here:
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