National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today reflected on the passing of Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, a frequent participant in NBAA events and programs and a long-standing advocate for business aviation.
“Gene Cernan is an American legend whose life will long be a source of inspiration,” noted Bolen. “He was a champion of the global aviation community, and a hero to the next generation of aerospace pioneers. He left his footprints on the moon, and an indelible mark on our hearts.”
In 2013, NBAA honored Cernan with its Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, the business aviation industry’s most distinguished honor, in recognition of Cernan’s extensive contributions to furthering achievements in aviation and aerospace.
A career U.S. Navy aviator, Cernan flew into space three times over his 13 years, first serving as pilot of the Gemini 9 mission in 1966, which furthered NASA’s understanding of the techniques required for extra-vehicular activities. He later flew two trips to the moon, serving as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, NASA’s final proving mission for the vehicle and procedures to be used for the Apollo moon landings, and as commander of Apollo 17, NASA’s final manned moon mission, in 1972.
Cernan retired from the Navy as a captain, and from NASA, in 1976. He held the distinction of being the last NASA astronaut to walk on the moon’s surface, an experience he said drove and inspired him throughout all his subsequent endeavors.
An accomplished pilot, Cernan for a time served as the public face of Bombardier’s Safety Standdown, an event held in partnership with NBAA and others to promote knowledge-based pilot safety training, along with personal discipline and responsibility, as essential elements of aviation safety and professionalism. Underscoring the importance of aviation safety, Cernan also lent his name to that event’s safety award for several years until he felt it was established enough to stand on its own.
Cernan was a regular guest at NBAA’s annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (BACE), where he frequently joined other legendary aviators in presenting the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s annual Combs Gates Award, which honors aviation history, research and preservation efforts.
Other awards Cernan received during his storied career included an FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Certificate, given during a presentation at NBAA’s 2010 convention, as well as the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the FAI International Gold Medal for Space, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2007 and NASA’s first Ambassador of Exploration Award.
In addition to bestowing its Meritorious Service to Aviation Award upon Cernan at its convention in 2013, NBAA also honored him with tributes offered by a distinguished panel of other aviation legends at that same event, including the late air show aviator and U.S. Air Force test pilot Bob Hoover, former flight director for NASA mission control Gene Kranz and NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar.
“You empower us, you inspire us, you make the world a better place,” said famed aerobatic performer Sean D. Tucker on that occasion. “Just for us to be sitting here with you is an honor. This community loves you.”
To read the coverage of NBAA’s 2013 tribute to Cernan, and watch a related video, visit:
- Astonaut Gene Cernan Receives Meritorious Service to Aviation Award at NBAA2013.
- Video about Gene Cernan shown at NBAA2013.