The FAA on Friday honored the AOPA Air Safety Foundation for its continuing and dedicated work in advancing the cause of air safety. During an appearance at AOPA Expo, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey presented the foundation's Executive Director Bruce Landsberg with the first Thomas H. Wardleigh Award.
"We don't give this thing out to just anybody," Blakey said. "The fact is, we've never given it out at all...until today. And I can't think of a more deserving recipient than AOPA's Air Safety Foundation."
Blakey noted that in fiscal year 2006, the United States had the lowest number of fatal accidents since records have been kept, and that most of the improvement was in the personal flying segment, a major focus area for the foundation.
The Wardleigh Award honors an individual or organization for making a significant impact on aviation safety; creating innovative training, equipment, or other improvements to safety; and for showing leadership in aviation safety, all over a long period of time. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, established in 1950, is the world's only safety foundation dedicated solely to improving general aviation safety.
The late Thomas H. Wardleigh was the "dean of Alaska aviation." He was the former chairman of the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation board and a lifelong advocate for aviation safety in Alaska. He had worked for the FAA and a held the FAA's Master Pilot and Master Mechanic awards, marking more than 50 years of active participation in those activities.
"We're honored to receive the first award named for Tom Wardleigh, a dear friend of AOPA, the Air Safety Foundation, and pilots in general," said Landsberg. "If I had a question about flying in Alaska, Tom was the go-to source. If there was a question on any aspect of flying or flight instruction Tom was there."
In retirement, Wardleigh also co-hosted Hangar Flying, a popular public television program on aviation safety that promoted continued training and new technology in Alaska. In 2004, shortly before Wardleigh died, AOPA gave a grant to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to archive all of the more than 1,000 episodes of Hangar Flying to DVD so that future Alaska aviators can benefit from Wardleigh's timeless wisdom. In 1994, Wardleigh received AOPA's Laurence P. Sharples Award for his lifetime of service to aviation safety and to Alaska's general aviation pilots.
November 10, 2006