Apollo 13 Commander James A. Lovell receives inaugural Neil Armstrong Outstanding Achievement Award from National Aviation Hall of Fame

  • Oct 5, 2015 12:05pm GMT

Earlier this year, the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) announced the establishment of the Neil Armstrong Outstanding Achievement Award, named after the first man to walk on the lunar surface and a 1979 Enshrinee of the Hall of Fame. The Armstrong Award was founded by the NAHF to annually recognize an exceptional one-time aviation performance of national or international significance by a U.S. citizen, or by a group, the majority of which are U.S. citizens.

On Friday, October 2nd, former NASA astronaut, Captain James A. Lovell, USN (Ret), was presented the inaugural Armstrong Award during the NAHF 53rd Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony in Dayton, Ohio. Widely known as the “Oscar Night of Aviation,” the black-tie event took place before nearly 600 guests at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, adjacent to the NAHF Learning Center.

The ceremony also featured the induction of the Enshrinee Class of 2015: B/Gen Robert Cardenas, USAF (Ret); the late Robert N. Hartzell; Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director for the Apollo 13 mission, whose enshrinement was presented by Capt. Lovell), and the late Abe Silverstein (considered “The Father of Apollo”). David Hartman served as emcee, and Nick Clooney as the host of the video-biographies.

The Armstrong Award recipient is determined by a committee of five NAHF Board members. Capt. Lovell was honored specifically for his demonstration of a high level of skill in an aviation event, as documented in the key role he played in the Apollo 13 mission on which he served as Mission Commander in April 1970. After the explosion of an oxygen tank aboard the orbiting Apollo Command Module crippled vital systems and caused the three-man crew to abort their mission, Capt. Lovell’s skill and leadership were instrumental in orchestrating their safe recovery to Earth.

“The establishment of the Armstrong Award provides the Hall of Fame a process to publicly acknowledge singular breakthroughs in aviation technology, leadership, and service,” explained NAHF Board Chairman, William R. Harris, who presented Lovell with his award. The NAHF commissioned artists B.E. Johnson and Joy Alyssa Day of Carmel, California-based Spherical Magic to create the new trophy, resulting in a striking hand-blown glass standing diorama titled “On the Mains,” depicting the Apollo 13 capsule at splashdown.

“To set the bar for this new award, we felt it wholly appropriate that Captain Lovell be so recognized for his courage, leadership and skill in bringing Apollo 13 safely home. His actions, and those of the Apollo 13 crew and team on the ground, turned crises into triumph, and continue to inspire us today as much as those of the award’s namesake.”

In addition to Lovell, former enshrinees in attendance Friday included Tuskegee Airman Charles E. McGee, former astronaut Joe Engle, aviation artist Keith Ferris, Joe Kittinger, Alan Klapmeier, Dale Klapmeier, and S. Harry Robertson.