By Christian Holtz
Over the past 26 years, The Museum of Flight has inducted 74 individuals, all with ties to the Pacific Northwest, into its Pathfinder Hall of Fame. At a black tie dinner Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash., the 75th and 76th were added to the rolls: aviation entrepreneur Joe Clark, developer of blended winglet technology used on the wingtips of modern jet aircraft; and Reba Gilman, founder and Principal of Aviation High School, the Northwest’s only college preparatory, aviation-themed high school.
More than 200 supporters turned out for the gala event to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s recipients, including aviation entrepreneurs and pilots Clay Lacy and Bruce McCaw, Montana businessman and philanthropist Dennis Washington, retired Boeing President and CEO Phil Condit, Alaska Airlines President and CEO Bill Ayer and his wife Pam, and approximately 80 of Gilman’s students and former students from Aviation High School. Bruce McCaw attended with his children Skye, Wynn and Brys McCaw. In honor of the occasion, all guests wore silk flight scarves with their formal attire.
The evening began with cocktails at the museum’s Great Gallery followed by a procession and recognition of previous Pathfinder recipients, then dinner and the awards ceremony in the Side Gallery. The dinner’s menu featured a salad of hearts of romaine and an entrée of roasted filet mignon and petite fillet of salmon, with a two-layer raspberry cheesecake for dessert.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Peter Morton, former Boeing executive and member of The Museum of Flight’s Board of Trustees. During dinner, each inductee conversed with Morton on stage while he highlighted various events in a “This Is Your Life” format. The two sat watching images on a monitor that were also projected on two large screens on opposite ends of the stage for all guests to see.
When Joe Clark was with Morton, we saw him leaning against the gracefully sculpted shape of a blended winglet he developed with his “dream team” at Aviation Partners. Blended winglets have transformed the industry, improving jet aircraft performance by reducing wingtip vortices, which in turn reduces drag and fuel consumption, extends the aircraft’s range and service life, and decreases runaway fuel costs. According to Clark’s Pathfinder inscription, blended winglets have produced “an overwhelming demand for application to the airline fleets of Boeing production and classic airframes. Together with its sister organization, Aviation Partners Boeing, the result is 3,000 airplanes and counting that fly Blended Winglets.”
We also saw images of Clark working in sales for Raisbeck Engineering as one of the founders of Horizon Air, and with the Boeing 747SP of Friendship One, a record-breaking around-the-world flight in 1988 that Clark was a principal in organizing and which raised $530,000 for children’s charities. Clark’s Pathfinder inscription reads, “Joe Clark—salesman, entrepreneur, and organizer—is a Pathfinder carrying forth the best legacy of great leaders in aviation history. His is the talent to take worthy ideas through challenging paths to closure, to transform worthy concepts into realized accomplishments, and to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
When it was Reba Gilman’s turn in the spotlight with Morton, the audience heard of her long and distinguished career in education and how she conceived and established Aviation High School in 2002, generating support for the school from both the public and private sectors, recruiting teachers and administers, and leading in the creation of curricula.
The school’s student body is ethnically and economically diverse, and students have scored substantially better on WASL tests than the state average. This year marks the first graduating class of Aviation High School, with 70 of the 72 students going on to colleges and universities across the nation. The results of Gilman’s accomplishments, according to her Pathfinder inscription, “will be realized in the future, multiplied many times as hundreds of students. benefit from her vision, tenacity, and dedication as a Pathfinder in education.”
The Museum of Flight’s annual Pathfinder Awards honor individuals or teams from the Pacific Northwest for their significant contributions to aeronautics and astronautics. Their pioneering achievements are in the categories of flying, engineering, education, operations and manufacturing, and also in an “at-large” category. This year Clark was recognized in “Manufacturing” and Gilman in the “Education” category.
The inductees are selected by representatives of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Air Force Association, the Civil Air Patrol, the Federal Aviation Administration, The Museum of Flight, the Ninety-Nines, the Navy League, the OX-5 Aviation Pioneers, the Society of Experimental Test Engineers, the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Transportation.
For more information on The Museum of Flight and the Pathfinder Awards visit [http://www.museumofflight.org].