FLYING Magazine

You can spend a lifetime in aviation, and those who do make significant contributions to aeronautics that deserve to be recognized. Each year, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) does this through the presentation of the McDonald Award. Established in 1954, the award honors outstanding living Americans who, through their efforts over an extended period of years, have made significant contributions to aeronautics and reflected credit upon America and themselves. This year’s winners are Gregory Feith, Wilson Leach, Jim Richmond, and Robert Stangarone.

About the 2023 Honorees

Feith, an aviation safety expert, has been recognized as a champion of best practices and advocacy encouraging aviation safety awareness, especially when it comes to CFIs training future pilots. He is a recognized, well-respected leader in instructor circles.

Leach, an aviation journalist and founder and CEO of Aviation International News, is being recognized for his tireless efforts that turned a small publishing company into an industry leader. His thoughtful, insightful prose takes complex issues, such as the effect of the global economy on aviation, and provides a level of understanding greatly appreciated by the aviation community.

Richmond, with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, began his career in aviation in 1932 as a boy making models. He has a lifetime of achievements winning model aircraft contests and indoor championships. Six of his airplanes have been named “plane of the year” by the National Free Flight Society. He holds 33 patents for mechanism designs related to engineering and has earned hundreds of aero sports awards, inspiring youth into aviation-related careers. He has served the U.S. as an aero sports competitor and in the military.

Stangarone is recognized for nearly five decades of experience as an aviation communicator and chronicler of aviation history. He has used his talents for Cessna, Embraer, Safire Aircraft, Fairchild Dornier, Litton, United Technologies (Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky) and Rolls-Royce North America. Today he serves as the chairman and president of the New England Air Museum.

“The history of aviation is marked by great people who have impacted the industry in extraordinary ways with their life’s work,” said Amy Spowart, president and CEO of the NAA. 

Previous recipients of this award include Chuck Yeager, Olive Ann Beech, Clay Lacy, and Majorie and Katherine Stinson.

READ MORE: NAA Celebrates Those Committed to Aviation and Aerospace

“This award serves to recognize these remarkable people,” said Spowart. “This year’s awardees represent excellence in vital industry sectors. From safety to leadership and beyond, this distinguished group is excellence personified, and we are honored to recognize them and their contributions to aviation.”

The selection committee for the 2023 Distinguished Statesman & Stateswoman of Aviation Award are previous year’s award winners. They include: Jim Albaugh, NAA board chair; J. Randolph Babbitt, former FAA administrator; Cassandra Bosco, Stateswoman of Aviation (2021); Peggy Chabrian, Stateswoman of Aviation (2016); Julie Clark, Stateswoman of Aviation (2020); David Franson, Statesman of Aviation (2020); Jonathan Gaffney, Statesman of Aviation (2019); William Garvey, Statesman of Aviation (2018); Angela Gittens, Stateswoman of Aviation (2021); Michael Huerta, former FAA administrator; John King, Statesman of Aviation (2018); Martha King, Stateswoman of Aviation (2018); Richard Koenig, Statesman of Aviation (2012); Jean Lydon-Rodgers, Stateswoman of Aviation (2021); and William Shea, Statesman of Aviation (2022).

The National Aeronautic Association is a nonprofit membership organization devoted to fostering opportunities to participate fully in aviation activities and to promoting public understanding of the importance of aviation and space flight in the United States. In addition, the NAA is the caretaker of the most important aviation awards in the world and certifies all national aviation records set in the United States.

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