John Travolta - the "Official Ambassador of Aviation ®," hosted the prestigious "Living Legends of Aviation Awards," at the Beverly Hilton ballroom on January 16 - 2015. The 12th Annual Awards saluted Bob Hoover and his 93rd birthday - along with special guests attending to honor this Charter "Living Legend of Aviation."
The three new inductees are Bruce Whitman - chairman and CEO of FlightSafety; Herb Kelleher - founder of Southwest Airlines; and Major General Carl McNair - retired Army and considered the Father of modern Army Aviation.
About Living Legends of Aviation
Considered the most prestigious and important recognition event of aviation - the Living Legends of Aviation Awards recognizes significant contributions and achievements during aviation's second hundred years.
12th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards
Friday - January 16 - 2015
Beverly Hilton Ballroom - Beverly Hills - CA
6:00pm Red Carpet & Cocktails
I was in Beverly Hills this past weekend for induction as a "Living Legend of Aviation" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel - walked the Red Carpet and all - in the same lane where the Golden Globes were presented the week before. Three of us from the Aviation community were inducted on Friday evening; Herb Kelleher - Founder of Southwest Airlines; Bruce Whitman - President - CEO - Chairman and Founder of Flight Safety International; and myself. All of the Directors of our company - Air Methods Corporation - the largest publicly owned helicopter company in the world - where I have served on the Board for 19 years - were present along with many other guests. Our three tables were next to the three tables of Elling Halvorson - founder and CEO of Papillon Helicopters in Las Vegas - and his executives and family. Papillon is a major competitor in Las Vegas of our subsidiary - Sun Dance - for the tourist flights into the Grand Canyon from McCarran. Was nice to get to meet Elling and his team and I imagine there may have been something on the Las Vegas news about Elling receiving his Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award.
There are only three West Pointers among the Living Legends today - Buzz Aldrin - '51 - Frank Borman. '50 - and myself - so am very proud and humbled indeed to have been elected to such an elite body - and believe I am perhaps the first Army Aviator - since most of the astronauts among the Legends were Air Force - Navy - Marine Corps or civilian test pilots. Army Aviators cannot serve as pilots in NASA on the Shuttle or other missions - since NASA requires thousands of hours of "jet" high performance aircraft time. Thus - our Army Astronauts - many of whom I trained at Fort Rucker - are all mission specialists on the space missions. I was honored to have John Travolta - "The Official Ambassador of Aviation" - hang the medal around my neck and after my remarks to the hundreds in the audience - to have Harrison Ford come backstage from the audience to congratulate me since I had mentioned being a Beaver pilot in the MAAG in China shortly after flight school and flew over a thousand hours island hopping in the Pacific during the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1958. Harrison Ford has a Beaver among his four aircraft and it is his favorite.
I was surprised to learn how many of the Celebrities own one to five aircraft. John Travolta has four - including a Boeing 707 and a Gulfstream - and he has a home on a private runway in Ocala - FL - where her parks the 707 in his back yard with direct access from his house to the airliner steps. Tom Cruise has three aircraft including two Business jets and a P-51 Mustang for fun - Morgan Freeman also has three Corporate Jets and is certified in all - Angelina Jolie has an SR-22. Quite a group to talk with - and they are very enthused about aviation. It was a real treat to join them. However the best part of the evening was the opportunity to speak on behalf of our Defense forces and the role that the US Army and other services play in security around the globe. The response was very surprising as the audience sat in near silence as I related our experiences in Vietnam - Iraq - Afghanistan and even more recently the Ebola Crisis in Africa which was also supported by Army Aviation and US Forces. I was especially proud to receive two standing ovations - beginning and end - which showed that the people of Hollywood and the industrialists from around the nation still have their patriotic blood.
Army Strong - Faithfully -