By Jerry Lips
Jerry Lips’ opening comments during the 5th annual Living Legends of Aviation award ceremony:
The “Living Legends of Aviation” are gathered here tonight to honor six extraordinary individuals for their significant and inspiring achievements. It’s only fitting that the “Living Legends of Aviation” collectively offer these salutes as they each share the common flight path of reaching extraordinary altitudes of life. They share “flying” as the common bond, taking these seemingly ordinary people beyond ordinary boundaries.
Take Lindbergh’s flight as an example: it really was quite simple. Lindbergh didn’t have any secret technology; he wasn’t a genius, nor did he have any great advantages of wealth or experience. He used an ordinary aircraft of the day and basic navigational principals. Many pilots of the day could have done it. While others were wrapped up in contingency plans, flying over shipping lanes so they could be rescued, or recruiting others to share the ride, Lindbergh flew beyond the boundaries of doubt, and simply flew to Le Bourget.
Why should we honor people like Charles Lindbergh or James Raisbeck, John Travolta, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dr. Forrest Bird, Sen. George McGovern or Pete Bunce? We honor them because they inspire us. They inspire us to fly beyond the boundaries. It’s the common thread among the “Living Legends of Aviation.” One by one, their stories inspire us to fly beyond our own self limits, to imagine and believe, and fly to new heights.
We would like to recognize those legends that confirmed to be here with us this evening. Please hold your applause until I finish recognizing those legends.
Dr. Buzz Aldrin: From the dangerous skies over Korea to the skillful first landing on the moon, Dr. Buzz Aldrin’s communion with God and country has given us a true “national treasure.”
Bill Anders: Look up “American Heritage” in the aviation dictionary. It says, “see recipe for Maj. Gen Bill Anders: blend two stars, the moon, an uncompromising spirit and generous portions of integrity and patriotism” and you get the most successful astronaut/aerospace legend.
Dr. Forrest Bird: Dr. Forrest Bird started flying and inventing at age 10. He has top honors in the “Inventors Hall of Fame,” and his oxygen delivery system in the P-51 Mustang enabled it to go higher and farther, helping win the war faster. Inventor of the heart-lung machine and the “Baby Bird,” he has saved countless lives.
Linden Blue: It’s been said that Linden Blue never knew there were speed limits. He’s always been headed for the finish line – full speed! Linden’s remarkable talent of bringing aviation technology forward on many fronts is exemplified with his new Spectrum jet.
Gene Cernan: Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, clearly went beyond the boundaries. His lasting footprints didn’t stop there, as he continues working on multiple fronts in business aviation.
Julie Clark: Inspired by her pilot father at a young age, Julie didn’t play with dolls; she made model airplanes. From flight attendant to 20 years as airline captain with Northwest Airlines, she began aerobatic maneuvers that won her superstar fame.
Tom Danaher: Routinely crossing the Atlantic in single-engine ag planes, making and flying aircraft for the movies, or just doing remarkable stuff for a lifetime, Tom Danaher is a Texas aviation giant.
Harrison Ford: Leading the call for a new generation of pilots, the chairman of the Young Eagles says, “Those that are bound to the earth by gravity don’t really see the world the way a pilot does. There’s so much beauty in flight.”
Morgan Freeman: Morgan Freeman has not only sparked the best kind of pride in all of us that we’re Americans, but he also shares our common passion for flight. The “Living Legends of Aviation” are very proud to count this jet pilot, accomplished actor, education promoter, humanitarian and inspiration among them.
Greg Herrick: If the Golden Age of Aviation is the sexiest era of aviation, then Greg Herrick is the Hugh Hefner of aviation. All of aviation is grateful for Greg’s contributions in preserving so much of aviation’s rich history for our posterity.
Barron Hilton: This quiet, entrepreneurial giant and patriarch of soaring enjoys unequaled respect and admiration of his fellow aviation legends. His passion and unselfish commitment has made multiple, indelible marks in aviation.
Bob Hoover: Bob Hoover is not only an inspiration, but he’s also the greatest example of how to be the “greatest example.” Bob is the most admired and respected old/bold pilot — period.
Dee Howard: A humble engineering giant, Dee Howard is cut from the same cloth as his late, good friend, Bill Lear. Dee invented the reverse thrusters and scores of other aeronautical inventions. A self-taught graduate of the seventh grade, he soars well beyond boundaries that even the smartest rocket scientist could only dream.
Charlie Johnson: Don’t let his humble, understated hard drive fool you. Charlie is just about the best liked and respected person in the industry. A Robin Olds River Rat, Arnold Palmer pilot, and chief test pilot for Learjet, Charlie’s 12-year tenure as president of Cessna led to him being the record holder for number of aircraft certified.
Alan and Dale Klapmeier: It wasn’t necessity that proved to be the mother of invention for the Klapmeier brothers. It was their passion. Starting in their parents’ barn, the Brothers Klapmeier have created the most popular, innovative and state-of-the-art production piston aircraft in the market.
Clay Lacy: Clay Lacy’s real age has stirred up a lot of controversy. Recently, some old records have surfaced showing that he was type rated in the Wright Flyer. Using some ancient logbooks that have been uncovered, it’s finally been proven that Clay is, in fact, 175 years old.
Robert A. Lutz: Bob Lutz is the guy’s guy. Seems like some guys have all the fun! Go fast cars, go fast planes, for this go fast international business guy.
Bruce R. McCaw: Bruce McCaw’s lifelong passion for aviation has insured that our children and grandchildren will better understand concepts like “personal courage.” Bruce’s clear vision to see beyond barriers to success is a family gene.
John W. Myers: This first class test pilot has flown just about everything and like the Energizer bunny, John Myers just keeps on flying. Vying with Clay Lacy for seniority, John often flies right seat with Clay.
Zoe Dell Nutter: The largest contributor to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, this true matriarch of aviation is still the most beautiful of the “Living Legends of Aviation.”
Sydney Pollack: Sydney, you tell it so good: “Exhilarating, liberating, you break away from all restrictions of gravity. You just look over at a cloud, point the plane and push the throttle, and there you go.”
Vern Raburn: Truly changing the face of aviation was never going to be easy. It would take a real risk taker, someone very innovative, imaginative, creative and resilient. Sounds like the description of a real entrepreneur.
James Raisbeck: It can’t be easy when compromise isn’t in your vocabulary, but it’s been a good thing for aviation. This discerning, innovative engineer and entrepreneur has earned the highest honor from his fellow aviation legends.
Cliff Robertson: Cliff Robertson is a real gentleman, a class act, and he has an Academy Award to prove it! Cliff is multi-talented, multi-rated and much appreciated by the world of aviation. Last year, the National Aviation Hall of Fame inducted this aviator-actor-writer. Airport Journals’ readers and I personally want to thank you, Cliff; we’re so proud to have you as a columnist and friend.
Frank D. Robinson: There have been other great names in the world of helicopters, but no one has done more than Frank Robinson to bring helicopters to the world or the world to helicopters.
Kurt Russell: Passion, commitment and serious talents on the ground and in the air make this propjet pilot a valuable addition to the “Living Legends of Aviation.”
Carroll Shelby: Carroll Shelby caused extreme humiliation for Mr. Ferrari and equal pride for America. Few know Carroll Shelby’s racing stripes originated on his P-38 Lightning.
Edward J. Swearingen: Youthful Ed Swearingen was there to help Bill Lear. His technological engineering has advanced aviation, and still today his genius is increasingly acknowledged.
John Travolta: We’ll be talking about our newest member in “Living Legends of Aviation” a little later in the program.
Sean Tucker: Sean Tucker is today’s “Legend of the Sky.” Like Sky King inspired yesterdays youth, Sean Tucker is inspiring present and future generations of aviators.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy: When Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary, 9-year-old Steven F. Udvar Hazy’s family fled with nothing – nothing but future opportunities in America. Buying and leasing thousands of airliners, Steven Hazy is original, smart, charismatic and the most successful of aviation entrepreneurs.
Patty Wagstaff: Like Bob Hoover, Patty turns our heads to the sky. She also turns heads as she enters a room. What she does in the sky is absolutely breathtaking.
Emily Howell Warner: Emily Howell Warner was the first female airline pilot for a scheduled airline. Captain Warner, we salute you. For our daughters, we toast you! Because now the stars include you. The new frontiers will never preclude you. We thank you. Thank you.
Kermit Weeks: The imaginative and creative. Just mention the name Kermit to anyone in aviation and they will say, “Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination.” They’ll also tell you that Kermit Weeks is about lifting our attitude, altitude and dreams.
Carl M. Williams: Our “Eagle of the Rockies” earned his wings and contributed on each leg of the flight. Generations will benefit from his passion and generosity for aviation.
I would like to thank Charlie Johnson for his great job as our emcee.
We thank Porsche for being the title sponsor for this event, as well as sponsoring the Porsche Business Aircraft & Jet Previews. Porsche and aviation are a perfect match and it’s great to have Porsche and Fortune Magazine as sponsor partners in Airport Journals endeavors.
Thank you also to Scheyden Eyewear and Moto Art for their participation this evening.
Thank you Dick Hanson and Marge Hidalgo for believing in Airport Journals during the first seven years of our aviation adventure.
We want to recognize JP and Holly Sharp for the creative and remarkable job designing the “Living Legends of Aviation” book.
Thank you, Di Freeze, for your remarkably talented editorship of Airport Journals and the extraordinary “Living Legends of Aviation” book. A special commemorative edition has been provided for each of our guests.
I would like to thank Andrea Parks for her hard work creating the beautiful hand-drawn portraits of our award recepients. Her artwork also included an art board and a 14 foot banner. She is also responsible for designing the programs, invitations and event tickets.
Many of our writers and photographers from around the country are here with us this evening. We want to thank them as well as their families, our volunteers and friends that helped with this event.
I would like you to meet my beautiful wife, Laurie, our five sons and daughter, who all work with Airport Journals. Paul, our oldest son, is the IT guy. Justin is our national sales director. Linsey Lips Carter is the publisher of our four California publications. Kyle, the oldest of the twins, is publisher of the Arizona, Texas and Florida Airport Journals. Kellen publishes the Midwest Journal. Jesse is working towards his law degree and works in sales.
Cliff Robertson, Airport Journals wouldn’t have nearly the degree of success without your words each month. The richness and dimension you have added to Airport Journals is immeasurable.