President’s Message

Spring time has always been my favorite time of the year. The days are getting longer and warmer. There are lots of trees and flowers blooming (I do hate the allergy part of that, but it is beautiful!). And baseball season has begun.

In my first trip through the NAA cycle of events and activities, I am also finding out that springtime is the beginning of our busy season. We had a terrific luncheon in April, hearing from the authors of a great book, Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission (highly recommended), and we gave the Stinson Trophy to Air Force Lt. Col. Christine Mau and the Henderson Trophy to Airports Council International Director General Angela Gittens. We selected the winner of the Collier Trophy, and will be presenting that to Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin on June 16. On June 22, we will recognize the Most Memorable Aviation Records of 2016; an event we will hold at Lockheed Martin’s Fighter Demonstration Center in Crystal City (Arlington, VA). On July 10, we will hold our third luncheon of the year, featuring the President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Rich Hanson. With so much controversy swirling these days over the treatment of drone and model aircraft, Rich’s presentation will be most timely.

In addition to all of this, we will be opening nominations for some of our major awards including the Brewer Trophy, Public Benefit Flying Awards, Distinguished Statesman of Aviation, and the Wright Brothers Trophy. Nominations have closed for the Katharine Wright Trophy, and a selection is forthcoming. On June 19, we will hold a meeting of our member Air Sport Groups in Dallas. NAA’s involvement in air sports is not always well known, but is a critical part of our history, and one we take very seriously. Along these lines, Art Greenfield and I will attend an FAI meeting and event in Wroclaw, Poland in July.

I tell you all of this not to show how busy we are, but to give you an idea of the breadth and depth of NAA’s work. I must admit that before I took this job I had no real idea, even though as a board member representing the Aero Club of Washington, I had some tangential involvement in NAA activities.

I have told people everywhere I have gone about NAA’s origins, how we were formed back when most people thought the idea of some bicycle mechanics flying was, to borrow a term, “fake news.” Back then, aviation needed this organization to persuade people that human flight was not only possible, but important. These days, aviation is taken for granted by far too many. And we know that many of our fellow citizens underestimate its importance. To me, we need an organization like NAA more than ever, especially when other (frankly better known) aviation organizations are largely concerned with promoting their own issues and sectors (as they should be, by the way).

We don’t lobby Congress or the FAA or TSA or any other agency (and the resulting reduction in my blood pressure is noticeable!). But we do exist to “lobby” for the idea that aviation is important and that it is “cool.” We have a role to play in drawing attention to aviation achievement and advancement (as I always say, the importance of our work on records and awards is not found in the records and awards themselves, but in focusing people on the importance of aviation and in incenting others to even greater heights).

We are constantly looking for ways to do that. I want to see us get even more nominations for awards and expand our program offerings. I want to find ways to provide forums for aviation achievement to be more widely recognized.

As I’ve said before in this space, I love history, love reading history and am absolutely in love with the idea of being a part of this historic organization. But, to quote a former boss of mine, as much as I like to read history, I’d rather make it. I won’t be the person making the history myself, but NAA will always be in the forefront of documenting it, and convincing Americans that this is history worth making and celebrating. When history is made, we will be there!