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Aviation Legends Honored as 'Master Pilots' During NBAA Show

Atlanta, GA, October 21, 2010

Five industry legends – Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Clay Lacy, Russ Meyer and Arnold Palmer – were recognized as FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilots during NBAA2010 for having demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise while flying safely for 50 or more years.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt – who personally presented each award winner with a special lapel pin during a ceremony held as part of the second-day General Session – called the five men "exceptional people who have each left an indelible mark on aviation and the world."

Astronaut Neil Armstrong – who also was a U.S. Navy aviator, aeronautical engineer and test pilot – was selected in 1962 to be America's first civilian astronaut. Four years later 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. Most recently, Armstrong has joined the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign as a spokesman.

Another naval aviator and astronaut, Gene Cernan, performed a record-setting space walk during one of his three trips into space, the last one being the 1972 Apollo 17 mission in which he became the last person to walk on the moon. Over the past several years, Cernan has served as the public face of Bombardier's Safety Standdown, offered in partnership with NBAA, the FAA and NTSB.

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer began flying in 1956, when he recognized that business aviation could enable him to more effectively compete in golf and in business from his small hometown of Latrobe, PA. Palmer has since amassed more than 19,000 flight hours, earned multiple type ratings, set a round-the-world speed record in a Learjet, and owned and flown various business aircraft, from an Aero Commander to a Citation X. Today, he is a spokesman for the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign.

Russ Meyer is best known as the executive who led the Cessna Aircraft Company from 1974 through 2005. Today, he is the company's chairman emeritus. In 1986, Meyer conceived the Cessna Citation Special Olympics Airlift that provides transportation to thousands of athletes who participate in the competition. Meyer, who has the rare distinction of having been a pilot in both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, has accumulated more than 17,000 hours of flight time and is type rated in every Cessna business jet ever built.

Clay Lacy began flying when he was 12 years old and went to work for United Airlines seven years later as a DC-3 pilot. In 1968, after flying jet fighters for the California Air National Guard and while still working at United, he opened Clay Lacy Aviation at Van Nuys Airport near Los Angeles, making it the first jet charter company on the West Coast. Based close to Hollywood, Lacy soon became a pioneer in aerial cinematography, personally conducting more than 2,500 air-to-air shoots for movies such as Top Gun and The Right Stuff. A veteran air race pilot who holds numerous world records, Lacy has logged more than 50,000 flight hours.

Review related images from the General Session photo gallery.