7th Annual Living Legends of Aviation

The 7th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards, presented by Learjet, are taking flight on January 22nd at the Beverly Hilton.

Beverly Hills, CA – January 12, 2010 – The 7th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards, presented by Learjet, are taking flight on January 22nd at the Beverly Hilton.

John Travolta, the official Ambassador of Aviation, will present Tom Cruise with the “Top Aviation Inspiration and Patriotism Award.” Tom Cruise’s passion for aviation started at a young age. Growing up in modest economic conditions, Cruise’s family moved frequently but once young Tom hung his P-51 Mustang photo in his bedroom, he felt at home. Not surprisingly, he now owns a P-51 Mustang and other aircraft and is an accomplished aerobatic pilot. Top Gun, the highest grossing aviation movie of all time, has inspired generations of young pilots and patriotism in many Americans. Cruise’s flying machines and commitment to aviation define his passion for flight.

Dr. Buzz Aldrin will receive the “First Out of This World Landing and Take-Off Award.” John Travolta, the Ambassador of Aviation, will present the award. Buzz took his first airplane ride with his father when he was 2 years old. His father, a military man, served as aide to Billy Mitchell, the father of the U.S. Air Force. As a boy, Buzz showed an early interest in all things mechanical, designing all types of contraptions. As a young man he flew 66 missions in Korea. Astoundingly, walking on the moon barely tops the very long list of successes and challenges that have defined Buzz Aldrin’s life as a pilot, military man, scientist, astronaut and one of the world’s most forward-thinking futurists. “The world needs to venture outward to satisfy our curiosity, our need to achieve and learn more about our place in this magnificent universe,” says Aldrin. In 2009, the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. He is one of only 12 astronauts to walk on the moon, and at age 80, is not slowing down. Buzz Aldrin continues to inspire.

Often referred to as the “Academy Awards of Aviation,” the aviation Legends awards gala is produced by Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, a non-profit organization that introduces children to aviation. The award ceremony recognizes great work, dedication and accomplishments in aviation. The importance of leadership and commitment to aviation in these challenging times make this recognition event even more significant.

Additional awards presented by the Legends throughout the evening include:

Preston Henne – “Aviation Industry Leader of the Year” – Pres Henne has earned the aviation industry’s highest leadership award. Henne became VP of General Dynamics in July 1999 when the company acquired Gulfstream. He is responsible for Gulfstream’s product program management, engineering, and flight operations. He joined Gulfstream in 1994 and is credited with the design, development and certification of the Gulfstream V aircraft, which was awarded the 1997 Collier Trophy. Henne’s leadership, management and engineering skills have earned him extraordinary respect and admiration throughout the aviation industry.

Elon Musk - “Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year” – South African born, Elon Musk, an American physicist, inventor, entrepreneur, innovator and philanthropist, is best known for founding PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX. His father inspired his love of technology. In 1999 Musk co-founded x.com, an online financial services and email payments company. He later changed the company’s name to PayPal and sold the company in 2002. Musk founded Tesla Motors, and is Chairman and CEO of the electric sports car company. The company is now developing an economical four-door electric sedan. Musk founded and serves as Chairman and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which was recently awarded a multi-billion dollar contract with the U.S. Government to develop and build space launch vehicles for NASA to replace the retiring space shuttles.

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