Washington, DC, August 27, 2012 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today hailed the legacy of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died Saturday of complications from heart surgery.
“Neil Armstrong inspired generations of people to reach for their dreams, and all of us in the aerospace community have been inspired by his example,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
In addition to serving as a NASA astronaut, Armstrong was a project pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the well-known, 4000-mph X-15. In his career, he piloted over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. Armstrong was also an aerospace engineer and university professor.
Additionally, Armstrong was a long-time business aviation pilot who set five world records for business jets, including the highest altitude flown in a business jet, a record set on February 21, 1979.
Bolen noted that in recent years, Armstrong had voiced his support for business aviation, as a spokesperson for the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, cosponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
In several ads produced for the No Plane No Gain program in 2010, Armstrong looks from Earth to the distant moon, and notes: "You can settle for email and conference calls, but nothing beats being there. Trust me on this."
In the ads, which point to the value of the face-to-face communication business aviation facilitates, Armstrong continues: “When you put yourself in the right place at the right time with colleagues, customers and even competitors, you are far more likely to make things happen. Business aviation enables you to be where you need to be when you need to be there, every time. It enables you to arrive fresh and ready to go face to face with just about anything, including your own destiny.”
“Neil never sought, nor really enjoyed the spotlight,” Bolen said. “But he always stepped forward when leadership was needed. He stepped forward for our country when President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon. And he stepped forward for business aviation when we needed him most. The world has lost a humble giant.”
In 2010, at NBAA’s Annual Meeting & Convention, Armstrong joined four other industry legends – Gene Cernan, Clay Lacy, Russ Meyer and Arnold Palmer – in being recognized as FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilots for having demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise while flying safely for 50 or more years.
Armstrong served as a U.S. Naval Aviator from 1949 to 1952, before joining the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955 as an aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and later as an astronaut and administrator for what became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for a total of 17 years.
In 1966, he commanded the Gemini 8 mission, which performed the first successful docking of two space vehicles. Most notably, he led the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and is best remembered for saying, "the Eagle has landed," moments before he became the first man to set foot on the moon.
Armstrong holds records registered with the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, including four won during the July 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. He was awarded for "extravehicular duration in space," "duration of stay on the surface of a celestial body," "extracurricular duration on the surface of the celestial body by an astronaut," and "greatest mass landed on the celestial body."
He also served as Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971-1979, and from 1982-1992, Armstrong was chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., Charlottesville, VA.
He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. He held honorary doctorates from a number of universities.
Armstrong is the recipient of many special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; the Explorers Club Medal; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the Harmon International Aviation Trophy; the Royal Geographic Society's Gold Medal; the Federation Aeronautique Internationale's Gold Space Medal; the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; the Robert J. Collier Trophy; the AIAA Astronautics Award; the Octave Chanute Award; and the John J. Montgomery Award.