Annual Gathering of Eagles remembers the past, looks to the future

[Aerotech News] Annual Gathering of Eagles remembers the past, looks to the future

AEROSPACE VALLEY, Calif. – The evening of Saturday, Nov. 12, the Flight Test Historical Foundation will celebrate the 75th Anniversary Year of Breaking the Sound Barrier and the non-profit organization’s milestone achievement in construction of a world class, one-of-its-kind Flight Test Museum and Conference Center for Edwards AFB.

This year’s Gathering of Eagles in the Hunter Pavilion of the Antelope Valley Fair & Events Center in Lancaster marks the foundation’s 40th year of sharing the story of America’s cradle of aerospace exploration.

In addition to recognition of individuals and teams for aerospace achievement, scholarship presentations and a panel discussion by leading authorities in flight test, aerospace engineering, and space exploration, this “Gathering of Eagles” will also celebrate raising of walls and roof above the 75,000-square-foot foundation for the Flight Test Museum.

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. for a reception in which attendees may mingle with stars of aerospace research and technology. A silent auction of rare memorabilia, including aviation art and aerospace artifacts, is to begin at 6 p.m. Proceeds will support Phase Two of museum construction.

In addition, an aerospace art exhibit will feature original paintings and fine art prints for sale. Half of sales proceeds are donated by the artists to help fund the new Flight Test Museum. Award-winning artists Douglas Castleman and Mark Pestana who are official U.S. Air Force artists with many of their paintings in the Pentagon and NASA Art Collections.

The dinner program will begin at 6 p.m. The public can also support the fundraising campaign by visiting the Foundation’s online signed collectibles store.

With the futuristic theme “75 Years of Breaking Barriers Over the Aerospace Valley/Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going,” the call for an honorary chairman was answered by a familiar family name in the star-studded firmament of Hollywood.

Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, son of 1960s era Star Trek television series creator, is the CEO of Roddenberry Enterprises where he serves as Executive Producer of current TV feature film series, including Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks. Star Trek Prodigy and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Honorary Chairman Roddenberry will take part in a fireside chat with Bill “Evil” Gray, chief test pilot at the Air Force Test Pilot School.

Going where no Gathering of Eagles panel has ever gone before, the 2022 theme will take the audience from the beginning of flight testing in the Mojave Desert to visions of Barriers over the horizon for the young pioneering breed of aerospace explorers at Mojave Air and Space Port, Edwards AFB, NASA Armstrong Research Center, Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, and nearly every other current aerospace industry including SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.

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The panel will seek to answer the questions of how we got to where we are today, where we are going, and how we will get there?

Educated answers, thoughts and maybe a couple of WAGS on the follow-up issue, How We Get There, will be addressed by a panel of experts on the Astronautical side of the house.

Panelists, including three new recipients of the FTHF Eagle Award for achievement in flight test, include: Donald L. Mallick, Lt. Cmdr. USN (Ret.) Navy pilot, and research pilot for NASA Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center; Chief Pilot LLRV, Chief Pilot NASA, Deputy Chief Director NASA Dryden (Ret.) Kelly Latimer, Air Force and Virgin Galactic test pilot, director of test flight at Virgin Galactic, and (first woman) research pilot for NASA Armstrong. Jared “Rook” Isaacman, CEO, Draken International and Shift4, and commander of Inspiration4 and Polaris Dawn. Wesley R. Persall, flight test engineer for the Air Force and Scaled Composites, and principal test engineer for Blue Origin and The Spaceship Company.

Panelists and Honorees are: Fred W. Haise, Jr. – NASA astronaut, Apollo 13; Commander, Space Shuttle Enterprise; Test pilot; Fighter pilot, Air Force and Marine Corps Pamela A. Melroy – NASA astronaut, Space Shuttles Discovery & Atlantis; Commander, Discovery; Deputy Administrator, NASA; Test pilot, Air Force Todd “Leif” Ericson – Mission Director, Polaris Dawn; Test pilot, Air Force and Virgin Galactic

Moderating the discussion will be retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bill ‘Evil’ Gray, USAF test pilot, AFFTC Chief of Flight Safety, Chief Test Pilot AF Test Pilot School and Chief Test Pilot X-62.

FTHF founding members recognized the Aerospace Valley as the genesis of flight test and aerospace innovation, and since 1983 the FTHF has been honoring luminaries in the aerospace world at events and award dinners.

Annually, the FTHF awards two $2,000 scholarships to students in California State University Long Beach Aerospace Valley Engineering Program. This year’s recipients of the G. Gordon Fullerton and William J. “Pete” Knight memorial scholarships are Robert Brown Jr. (EE) and Yesenia Morales (ME).

The Gathering of Eagles was established in 1997 to acknowledge significant achievements in flight test and to honor the individuals who made these achievements possible with the award of Eagle.

Tickets are $150 per person, $100 for current “Friends of the Museum,” with sponsorships and full table purchases available.

For additional information, contact Reserve tickets at

Eagles Honorees Through Years

Tributes to Aerospace 1989: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing Honored Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins (first time together since 1969) 1990: Just Wings, 5th annual tribute honoring Jack Northrop and flying wing pilots Max Stanley, Bob Cardenas, Chuck Tucker, Bruce Hinds and Rick Couch. 1991: 40TH Anniversary of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) Award accepted by Maj Gen John Schoeppner. 1992: 50th Anniversary of America’s First Jet – Bell P-59. Honored Lt. Gen. Laurence C. “Bill” Craigie, first U.S. military jet pilot. 1993: Kelly Johnson 50th Anniversary of Lockheed Skunk Works – Award accepted by Sherm Mullin. 1994 : 50th Anniversary of the USAF Test Pilot School.

Gathering of Eagles 1995: Edward Heinemann and Douglas Aircraft. “An Evening of Aviation History.” Special guests iincluded Chuck Yeager, J.J. Quinn, Tony LeVier, Pete Knight, Bob Gilliland and Bob Cardenas. 1997: 50th Anniversary of the X-1 program – Honorees: Chuck Yeager, Bob Hoover, Bob Cardenas, Jack Russell, De Beeler. 1999: 40th Anniversary of the X-15 test program – Honorees:  Pete Knight, Scott Crossfield, Joe Engle, Bill Dana, Fitz Fulton. 2001: 50th Anniversary of the AFFTC – Honorees:  Lt Gen Thomas Stafford, Charlie Bock, Jesse Jacobs, Don Mallick and Fred Stoliker. 2002: 50th Anniversary of the B-52 – Honorees:  John Carlson, Phil Conley, Charlie Kuyk, Al Phillips, Guy Townsend. 2003: Centennial of Flight and Century Series Fighters – Honorees:  Hank Beaird, Bob Little, Bob Titus and Bill Weaver. 2004: Out of the Black, Into the Blue –Paper Designs and Flying Prototypes – Honorees:  Keith Beswick, Den Dyson, Doug Benjamin, Rudy Haug, Dan Vanderhorst and Dick Thomas. 2005: 50th Anniversary of the U-2 – Honorees: Louis Setter, Harry Andonian, Bob Riedenauer, Tom McMurtry, Don Sorlie. 2006: B-58 Hustler 50th Anniversary – Honorees: Johnny Armstrong, Beryl Erickson, Harold Confer, Charles Harrison, Robert Sowers. 2008: XB-70 Valkyrie Flight Test Program – Honorees: Paul Reukauf, Lyle Schofield, Bill Schweikard. 2009: 50th Anniversary of the X-15 Flight Test program – Honorees: Bob White, Betty Love, Bob Hoey, John McTigue.

Excellence in Aviation Awards Series 2010: Honorees: Brig. Gen Robert Cardenas, Bob Hoover, Clay Lacy, David Tallichet. 2011: Honorees: Frank Robinson, Robert Gilliland, Jens Neelsen. 2012: Salute to the Space Shuttle NASA ALT/OFT – Approach and Landing Teams, Orbital Flight Test NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s Space Shuttle Operations Team, Boeing’s Space Shuttle AIT Team – Assembly, Integration and Test of all orbiters Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s SSME – Space Shuttle Main Engine Team US Air Force Space Shuttle Recovery Team.