NAA announces 2011 award recipients

September 28, 2011

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced the 2011 recipients of several prestigious awards.

Four Wesley L. McDonald Elder Statesman of Aviation Awards will be conferred. The award was established in 1954 to honor outstanding Americans who have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics, reflecting credit upon their country and themselves. Previous winners have included Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Olive Ann Beech, Scott Crossfield, Carol Hallett, and Chuck Yeager.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Jack Dailey, who flew more than 7,000 hours in a variety of aircraft and flew 450 missions during a 36-year career, received the award. In 1990, he was named assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. From there, he joined NASA as associate deputy administrator. In 2000 he became director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. “During Dailey’s tenure, the museum has expanded to include the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport,” the NAA release explained.

Leon “Lenny” Potts, a member of the National Skydiving Museum’s Board of Trustees, also received an award. He has dedicated himself to the skydiving and aviation communities for more than 50 years, said the NAA announcement. Potts served with the U.S. Parachute Teams as team pilot during competition in the World Parachuting Championships in Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, and Great Britain, and has served on the NAA Sport Aviation Council.

Jim Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association, will be recognized. A lifelong aviation safety advocate, Coyne serves on the board of governors of the Flight Safety Foundation, and was founder and president of the Air Charter Safety Foundation. NAA recognized the pilot with more than 6,000 hours for his service in Congress and as president of the American Consulting Engineers Council, the American Tort Reform Association, and Americans to Limit Congressional Terms.

Recipient John Cashman retired from The Boeing Co. as its director of flight crew operations and chief pilot in 2007. During his career he was involved with numerous major Boeing aircraft projects including the 707, 727, 767, and 777. A 9,000-hour pilot, he has set world records including the longest flight in a commercial aircraft, NAA said.

“As the Elder Statesman Award is synonymous with lifetime achievement, these four individuals together have contributed immensely to the advancement of our industry, the defense of our nation, and the fabric of sport aviation in the United States,” said Jonathan Gaffney, chairman of the selection committee and NAA president.

NAA will award its Frank G. Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education to the Academy of Model Aeronautics, citing its “exemplary accomplishment and collaborative work with numerous aerospace organizations across the nation to assist students, teachers and community leaders in understanding the science, skill and beauty of flight.”

“For 75 years they have maintained a focus on aviation education which has impacted millions of young people across the United States,” Gaffney said.

Balloonist John Petrehn was named recipient of the NAA’s Harmon Trophy “for outstanding achievement in hot air ballooning, including winning the 2010 World Balloon Championships and for being the number one ranked pilot hot air balloon pilot in the world.” The Harmon Trophy is awarded for “the most outstanding international achievement in the art and/or science of aeronautics (ballooning) for the previous year.”

The award recipients will be honored at the NAA Fall Awards Banquet on Nov. 7 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

NAA bestowed its 2011 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy on retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Patten Stafford “for his pioneering achievements that have led the way to the moon, to greater international cooperation in space, and to a safer America.” NAA established the award in 1948 to honor the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright. It is awarded annually to a living American for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States. 

“In his long and distinguished career, General Stafford has been a fighter pilot, flight instructor, distinguished test pilot, pioneering astronaut, aerospace record setter, author and an advisor to federal agencies and U.S. presidents alike. He established a successful pattern that leads directly from the Gemini missions to the International Space Station. His Apollo X mission was a pathfinder that laid the foundation for the successful lunar landings,” NAA said, adding that “today’s international cooperation and partnership in space was forged upon the historic handshake he offered his (then) Soviet counterpart during the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.”

Stafford will be presented with the award at the Wright Memorial Dinner on Dec. 16 at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.