Photo: Joshua Barash
Last night, the Aero Club of Southern California (ACSC) awarded Steven Udvar-Hazy the 34th Howard Hughes Memorial Award for his lifetime contributions to aviation. Udvar-Hazy spearheaded aircraft leasing services with his International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), which he founded in 1973 and sold to American International Group in 1990 for $1.3 billion. ILFC now owns and manages more than 1,000 commercial jets. In 2010, Udvar-Hazy formed Air Lease Corporation, which has already ordered 300 Boeing and Airbus jets.
Udvar-Hazy’s great success enabled him to open the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near the Washington Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., which features a huge collection of famous aircraft, including the Messerschmitt Me 262, SR-71, Concorde, B-29 Enola Gay and Space Shuttle Discovery.
The Howard Hughes Memorial Award is presented annually by ACSC, which was founded in the 1920s and has close ties to the famous aviator. The award was created as a posthumous tribute to Hughes by his first cousin, William R. Lummis, chairman and CEO of Summa Corporation (Hughes’ holding company). Summa had made plans to disassemble Hughes’ Spruce Goose, but instead decided to donate the massive flying boat to ACSC. ACSC made arrangements to place it on display in a large dome exhibit in Long Beach, California, and later found its present home at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
Previous awardees, such as Bob Hoover and Clay Lacy, were present for the awards ceremony, and Boeing’s James Albaugh, who received the award in 2007, made a tribute to Udvar-Hazy prior to the award presentation.