Each year the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) honors a half-dozen individuals who have contributed to the advancement and the history of aviation in the United States. The historic aspect of their accomplishments is reinforced by one of the basic criteria for the award--one must be at least 60 years old to be accorded the Elder Statesman of Aviation award. The award was established in 1954 to honor outstanding Americans who have contributed significantly to aeronautics.
Recipients of the 1998 Elder Statesman of Aviation award are:
Walter J. Boyne, a founding member of our Aviation History editorial advisory board who boasts an impressive résumé of aviation accomplishments. A U.S. Air Force officer and pilot for 23 years who flew more than 5,000 hours in airplanes ranging from the Piper Cub to the B-1B bomber, he took the helm of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., after his service tenure. He made the NASM the most popular museum in the nation's capital, established the Paul E. Garber storage and restoration facility, and oversaw production of some of the most popular IMAX large-screen films. Boyne has written thousands of pages of aviation history and moved into writing novels. He is presently helping develop Wingspan: The Aviation Channel, a cable channel dedicated to air and space subjects. Boyne lives aviation--and reflects it.
Colonel Charles Edward McGee, U.S. Air Force (ret.), is a former Tuskegee Airman who flew fighters during World War II, Korea and Vietnam (see interview in the March 1999 issue). McGee's accolades include a formidable array of medals and honors, and he has been recognized as having flown more fighter sorties than anyone in U.S. Air Force history. An Eagle Scout, he has served as an aeronautical spokesman and a role model for youth, supporting programs aimed at encouraging youngsters to seek goals beyond what others might feel are societal constraints.
Donald L. Piccard is the acknowledged father of modern hot-air ballooning and a founder of the Balloon Federation of America. His achievements during the past 50 years have contributed greatly to the development and acceptance of ballooning as a sport, and resulted in modern hot-air ballooning competition as it is recognized throughout the world today. At 70, Piccard continues to instruct, promote and write about one of the oldest forms of air transportation.
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