The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has unveiled the recipients of the 2016 Wesley L. McDonald Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award: Dr. Peggy Chabrian, Randall Greene, Preston Henne, and Clay Lacy.
The Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Award was established in 1954 to honor “… outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over an extended period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics and have reflected credit upon America and themselves.”
Dr. Peggy Chabrian is the founder of Women in Aviation International (WAI), a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing networking, education, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities for both women and men who strive for careers in the aviation and aerospace industry.
In 1990, Chabrian gathered 150 people for the first Women in Aviation conference at Embry Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona campus. Four years later, with the growing success of the annual conference, the aviation industry began to recognize and accept the need for the focus and energy offered by her vision.
In December 1994, 16 founding board members, with Chabrian as president, established WAI as it is today. Presently, WAI’s diverse membership of more than 13,000 includes representation from virtually every corner of the world’s aviation community and the annual conference has grown to over 5,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors. WAI has also awarded close to $11 million in scholarships at their conference since 1995.
Randall Greene is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Safe Flight Instrument Corporation. He joined Safe Flight Instrument Corporation in 1972 as an engineering test pilot and advanced systems manager, where he worked until 1980 when he left to pursue other opportunities which included President, Aeronautical Systems Corp.; Founder and President, Commander Aircraft Co.; various managerial positions with AiResearch Electronics Division and Allied Signal Corp.; Manager, Systems Programs and Engineering Test Pilot, Bendix Corporation (Honeywell); and Pilot, Taos Air Taxi.
Greene holds 15 US patents and has published technical papers in numerous publications. FAA Airline Transport-rated for both airplanes and helicopters, Greene is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and an FAA designated test pilot for FAR Part 23, 25, 27, and 29 aircraft.
He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Corporate Angel Network, is a member of the nominating committee of the board of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (where he is an emeritus director), and is a board member of the Wings Club of New York. Greene holds 12 NAA and Fédération Aéronautique Internationale aviation records.
Recognized today as a visionary leader in aircraft development, Preston Henne began his career with McDonnell Douglas in 1969. At the time, he was known for his work in advanced aerodynamic technology, and was responsible for the aerodynamic design of the wing on the C-17. Henne later served as the Chief Design Engineer for the MD-80 and later was VP and GM of the MD-90.
He joined Gulfstream in 1994 and led the teams responsible for the design, development, test, and certification of the Gulfstream V, G550, G450, G150, G280, and the G650. His vision and drive put Gulfstream products first to the market with Enhanced Vision Systems, Synthetic Vision Systems, and Active Control Sidestick. Under Henne’s leadership, Gulfstream established a Research and Development Center in Savannah, Georgia, to support future product development.
He is a member of the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Engineering Advisory Board, a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003.
Clay Lacy has been working actively in aviation since he became a flight instructor at the age of 16. He has actively participated in many roles in aviation, including as airline captain, military aviator, experimental test pilot, air race champion, world record-setter, aerial cinematographer, and business aviation entrepreneur. During his career, he has flown more than 300 aircraft types, logged more than 50,000 flight hours, and accumulated more hours flying turbine aircraft than any other pilot in the world.
His career highlights include making the first flight of the Pregnant Guppy, a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser modified to carry the Saturn rocket booster in support of the U.S. space program; flying the first Learjet into Van Nuys Airport, which introduced a new era of corporate aviation to the entertainment industry; founding Clay Lacy Aviation in 1968; flying a four-engine Douglas DC-7 nicknamed Super Snoopy in the California 1000 Mile Air Race (finishing sixth place with an average speed of 325 mph, and marking the first and only time a four-engine airliner ever competed in a pylon event); revolutionizing air-to-air cinematography with the development of the Astrovision camera system; retiring in 1992 as a United Airlines Captain with seniority No. 1 after 41 years of incident-free flying; and setting 29 world speed records.
The Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Awards will be presented at NAA’s Fall Awards Ceremony on Dec. 8 in Arlington, Virginia.