The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced the recipients of this year’s Wesley L. McDonald Elder Statesman of Aviation Awards. This year’s recipients include Keith Ferris, Dick Koenig, Christopher Kraft, Henry Ogrodzinski and Dr. Irving Statler. The group will be honored at the NAA Fall Awards Banquet on Tuesday, November 13, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
Keith Ferris is a 52-year veteran of the Society of Illustrators Air Force Art Program who has flown almost every jet aircraft type in Air Force inventory. He is a founding member and past president of the American Society of Aviation Artists, a 1992 inductee to the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey and may be best known for his two 75-foot murals at the National Air and Space Museum titled “Fortresses Under Fire.”
Flying magazine publisher Dick Koenig has made significant contributions to the business and general aviation community for over 40 years through his leadership and promotion of aviation. A former helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Koenig has flown as a pilot in corporate aviation, commercial airlines and the Air National Guard as well as serving as a flight instructor. Koenig has been involved with Women in Aviation, International since its inception, where he is a founding Board member and currently its treasurer. He has also served as a director for the Corporate Angel Network since 2000 and sits on the board of The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation.
Retired NASA engineer Christopher Columbus Kraft, Jr., was instrumental in establishing the agency's Mission Control operation and became NASA’s first flight director. “He was on duty during such historic missions as America's first human spaceflight, first human orbital flight, and first spacewalk,” the NAA noted.
Henry Ogrodzinski is president and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials. Previously he held senior management positions at the General Motors' avionics division, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Gulfstream Aerospace, and The U. S. Air and Trade Show in Dayton, Ohio. He has been co-chairman of the US. Aviation Security Advisory Committee Working Group on General Aviation and served on the Board of Nominations of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Board and Executive Committee of NAA and as president of the Aero Club of Washington.
During a 60-year career, Irving Statler “has made outstanding contributions to aviation safety through research and innovation in fields that include stability and control, data analysis and monitoring, and human factors,” the NAA said. His career included Army Air Corps service during World War II as a research scientist, and he was director of the NATO Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development.
The Wesley L. McDonald Elder Statesman of Aviation Award was established in 1954 to honor outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics and have reflected credit upon America and themselves. Previous winners have included Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Olive Ann Beech, Scott Crossfield, Carol Hallett and Chuck Yeager.