Aviation Luminaries Honored at Living Legends Awards

Honoree Felix Baumgartner with John Travolta on the red carpet of the 15th annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards. Felix Baumgartner/Twitter

It was a star-studded affair as John Travolta, Harrison Ford and other Hollywood stars toasted aviation’s best and brightest in Beverly Hills, California, over the weekend at the 15th annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards.

This year’s inductees included AOPA president Mark Baker, record-setting helicopter pilot and businessman H. Ross Perot Jr., freefall parachute daredevil Felix Baumgartner, famed airshow announcer Danny Clisham, pioneering European astronaut Ulf Dietrich and world champion glider pilot Bruno Gantenbrink.

The Living Legends of Aviation also bestowed its Eren Ozmen Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year award to Tyson Weihs and Jason Miller, co-founders of the flight planning app ForeFlight. Aerobatic helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron presented the Vertical Flight Hall of Fame award to Mike Silva, a Vietnam helicopter pilot who flew for decades after with news organizations and in firefighting roles.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy presented the award named after him to Jack Dailey, a U.S. Marine Corps general who served for 18 years as the head of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Aviation entrepreneur Kenn Ricci gave his Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award to Robert Bigelow, founder of space exploration firm Bigelow Aerospace. GE Aviation’s David Joyce received the Lifetime Aviation Industry Leader Award.

The evening was capped with an impassioned speech by actor Harrison Ford about the perils of ATC privatization as he bestowed his Legacy in Aviation Award on Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, a tireless opponent of a House plan to turn air traffic control over to a nonprofit entity heavily influenced by the major airlines.

Actor John Travolta did a superb job as emcee of the event on January 19 at the Beverly Hilton, which was also attended by other luminaries including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, actor Morgan Freeman, aerobatic helicopter pilot Chuck Aaron and musician Kenny G.


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