Team Edwards leadership gathered with flight test legends last Saturday night for the 2012 Gathering of Eagles, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Flight Test Historical Foundation and honoring the lifetime accomplishments of research pilot and astronaut Neil Armstrong with the foundation’s prestigious Eagle Award.
The dinner was held at the University of Antelope Valley Ballroom.
In addition to remembering the lifetime achievements of Armstrong, the event recognized the achievements of flight test greats such as Johnny Armstrong, Bob Cardenas, Ken Dyson, Gordon Fullerton and Fitz Fulton. Among those in attendance from the 412th Test Wing were commander, Brig. Gen. Michael T. Brewer; Col. Amy Arwood, 412th TW director of staff; and Col. Lawrence Hoffman, United States Air Force Test Pilot School commandant.
Beyond celebrating a rich history of flight test, the dinner and silent auction raised funds and awareness about the ongoing efforts to move the museum located on Edwards AFB outside the West Gate by Century Circle, allowing visitors greater access to historic Edwards aircraft, artifacts and exhibits.
“I was very impressed by the event Saturday night and in awe of the support the foundation received,” said George Welsh, Air Force Flight Test Museum curator. We get so motivated to see the direct and indirect support that is out there. It’s great to see that the Eagles are on our team.”
At the dinner, Welsh briefed attendees about current and upcoming projects at the museum and assured everyone that the museum keeps forging ahead in preparation for the big move to make the location more accessible.
“We have a lot of great ideas and great volunteers to turn them into reality. At this point, we’re beyond paper, we’re making it happen. Everything we do is geared towards eventually moving the museum out to the West Gate,” said Welsh. “That includes fixing up aircraft, pursuing buildings, moving collections and preparing to relocate aircraft.”
Funding for the museum is raised through events such as the Gathering of Eagles through the Flight Test Historical Foundation. For General Brewer, raising money for the museum’s relocation is important to the future of Air Force recruiting by educating and inspiring the future generations.
“I have to have the greatest job in the world, I really do. This was the first time I was able to fly in over a year. It was just remarkable. My son is going to Purdue [University], following in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps perhaps and we just found out he was accepted to attend pilot training with Euro-NATO joint jet pilot training.”
Brewer referenced the Airman’s Creed, citing that service members are “faithful to a Proud Heritage, A Tradition of Honor, and A Legacy of Valor” and emphasized that the nation is counting on the Air Force to recruit the best of the best for generations to come.
Making the museum more accessible is an important part of that recruiting initiative.
“Where are we going to get those guys that are going to develop and build the next F-16? Where are we going to get the men and women that will follow as my son is getting the opportunity to do a generation from now,” Brewer asked.
“We’re going to get them from young boys and girls and they’re learning it in places like the Airpark. The future is that. The nation is counting on us to develop the next generation and this foundation is a part of making that happen,” he continued.
Through fundraising events like the 2012 Gathering of Eagles and the museum’s vast network of dedicated volunteers, the organization has become a valuable resource in the flight test community by inspiring and educating aviation enthusiasts of all ages. Saturday night, the FTHF took another step towards making the museum even more accessible to the general public.