FLYING Magazine

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) established the Clifford Henderson Trophy in 1960 to pay homage to pilot who created the National Air Races and led them from 1928 to 1939. It honors “…a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States,” according to the NAA.

For 2022, the NAA will present the Henderson Trophy to the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA), the Worldwide LGBTQ Aviation Community, for its efforts to build, promote, and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. Through its programs, it advances general aviation safety, as well as facilitating a network of LGBTQ professionals in the aerospace industry.

“The Henderson Trophy has gone to so many who have worked to make aviation better, from James Doolittle to Scott Crossfield to Martha King, the Ninety-Nines, and the Tuskegee Airmen,” said NAA’s president Greg Principato. “So many have advanced not just the technology of flight, but also the idea that aviation’s opportunity should be fully available to all.  The work of NGPA over so many years to build, support and unite the LGBTQ aviation community is in that proud tradition.

“Aviation is best when all can contribute to its advancement, and we are proud to recognize the work of the NGPA with the 2022 NAA Henderson Trophy.”

“To be honored amongst such outstanding individuals and organizations is truly humbling for all of us here at NGPA,” said Brian Gambino, NGPA’s president. “Our organization has been fueled by the selfless work of countless volunteers over NGPA’s 32-year history. This recognition by the NAA is further proof that inclusivity in aviation and aerospace is vital to the continued advancement of our industry.”

Supporting the LGBTQ Community

“For decades, the NGPA’s advocacy programs have made a difference in the everyday lives of LGBTQ aviation professionals,” said the NAA in a statement. “A team of dedicated volunteers travel to industry conferences to increase awareness, conduct events in support of LGBTQ youth and transgender pilots, and provide guidance and resources regarding FAA medical certification issues specific to LGBTQ pilots.  

“The NGPA also commits a broad offering of resources toward the development and promotion of the benefits that diversity and inclusion strategies bring to all areas of aviation. This includes conducting seminars and training for airline leadership, working with representatives from government agencies, and collecting data to measure effectiveness. 

“The NGPA’s goal of making workspaces welcoming to the LGBTQ community is critical to a safe and productive aviation industry.”

The NGPA also delivers opportunity to pilots and aspiring aviators in the group. As of spring 2022, the NGPA has given out more than $750,000 in scholarships to those who wish to learn to fly, to help them become qualified members of the aviation family around the world.

Previous Henderson Trophy Winners

Past recipients of the Clifford Henderson Trophy include:

Lt. Gen. James DoolittleAnne Morrow LindberghSen. Barry GoldwaterThe United States Air Force AcademyTom PobereznyMartha KingScott CrossfieldThe Ninety-NinesClarence “Kelly” JohnsonThe 2021 recipient, the Tuskegee Airmen

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