It’s the one award in aviation that you can’t take home with you.
The National Aeronautic Association honored Garmin Aviation at a gala event in Arlington, Virginia, on November 4, bestowing its highest accolade, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, upon the group responsible for the Autoland system for light aircraft.
The trophy itself lives in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum just a few miles away and across the Potomac River. It only comes out one night each year—to fete those honored with its recognition.
President of NAA Greg Principato reflected on the trophy itself in his remarks leading to the presentation of the award.
“People are always interested in this: The trophy’s about seven feet tall, and weighs about 500 pounds … it requires great effort to bring out each year, and for that, and for its care throughout the year, we can thank the keeper of the Collier, Caroline Russo.”
Samantha Magill, vice chair of the NAA board of directors, announced the award committee’s basis for the award.
“For designing, developing, and fielding Garmin Autoland, the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention.”
An Emotional Moment
Phil Straub, executive vice president and managing director-aviation for Garmin, accepted the award on behalf of the dozens of Garmin team members both in attendance and back in Olathe, Kansas.
“This is emotional—I didn’t know what this would be like before I got up here,” Straub said.
“I’m humbled and I’m honored to receive this prestigious award. It remains surreal to stand in the company of so many aerospace greats who forged their position ahead of us. As I reflect on their achievements, I recognize how they expanded the reaches of aviation, with speed, distance, and even into space.
“Autoland is not pushing any of those boundaries. It’s impact is different—and immeasurable in the hearts and minds of the passengers and pilots.”