Saturday, August 24, 2013

Aviation Pioneer Colonel Joe Kittinger Receives Cliff Henderson Trophy

Colonel Joe Kittinger, USAF, an aviation and aerospace pioneer for more than five decades who set two world ballooning records and won numerous ballooning competitions, was honored with the Cliff Henderson trophy at the June 2013 NAA luncheon.

The Cliff Henderson Trophy is awarded to "...a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States."

Kittinger took the "highest step in the world" on August 16, 1960, when he made history as he ascended to 102,800 feet in a high-altitude balloon and jumped to earth. Most recently, Kittinger provided capsule communications as the primary point of radio contact with Felix Baumgartner in the Red Bull Stratos Project, which set three world skydiving records in 2012.

Sherry Butcher, President of the United States Parachute Association, introduced Kittinger at the luncheon, explaining that he "changed forever the world of skydiving and enabled many more people to enjoy skydiving. His quest for knowledge had many unintended benefits. He stimulated interest in aviation over several decades."

She added that Kittinger accomplished many things that did not receive enough recognition, including inventing tandem skydiving equipment, which is the basis for skydiving training around the world.

In accepting the trophy, Kittinger said," I am here representing a lot of people - teammates who made my flights possible. You cannot do these things by yourself. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people who are a lot smarter than I am."

He specifically praised the hard work of Art Thompson over the course of seven years as technical project director for the Red Bull Stratos Project. "He made the flight happen," Kittinger said. "Thank you for a job well done."

Kittinger is also an NAA Distinguished Statesman of Aviation, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, was made an honorary U.S. Army Golden Knight, and is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame, and the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. He has logged more than 16,800 hours of flying time in over 93 aircraft. His adventures are detailed in his autobiography, "Come Up and Get Me."

Source (NAA News Letter)

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