Astronaut Tom Stafford Honored During Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Annual Air & Space Gala

By  //  November 18, 2019

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The gala is the museum’s annual fundraiser that helps to support its Education Programs

Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford admiring the LM-13. (Cradle of Aviation Museum image)

GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK – The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center held its 2019 Annual Air & Space Awards Gala recently where influential, innovators and leaders in aviation and space were honored.

Honorees included Apollo 10 Commander Tom Stafford, recipient of the Spirit of Discovery Award; CEO and President, Transaero, Inc, Perry K. Youngwall, recipient of the Leroy R. Grumman Award; and Director, Aviation Department Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Huntley A. Lawrence, recipient of the Aviation Leadership Award.

The gala is the museum’s annual fundraiser that helps to support the museum’s Education Programs and Preservation efforts.

The year 2019 serves as the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo program; one of the greatest human and technological achievements of our time.

Past honorees have included Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, Fred Haise, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan and Walt Cunningham.

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The honorees were escorted by the Nassau County Police Emerald Society Pipe Band followed by the National Anthem sung by the Freeport High School Select Chorale.

Themes of honoring the past to build the future were resonated throughout the evening. Honoree Perry Youngwall talked about how his father’s work experience was a source of inspiration for pursuing a career in engineering.

While Honoree Huntley Lawrence talked about the future modernization of the facilities and service of the metro NY/NY airports.

Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford in a Gemini Capsule replica at Cradle of Aviation Museum before receiving his award. (Rob Leonhard image)

Lt. Gen. Stafford was excited to return to the Cradle after 20 years.

“I am so impressed with this museum,” he said. “This museum is absolutely unbelievable. What you have done here in the past 20 years is unbelievable.”

On a private museum tour with Cradle of Aviation Museum Curator, Joshua Stoff, Stafford had the chance to see his original Apollo 10 training spacesuit, sit in a Gemini capsule replica, and see the Lunar Module 13.

He even spotted a photo he took from his mission within the museum’s space gallery.

During Stafford’s acceptance, he spoke of his missions and referenced the Apollo 13 mission and the impressive role of the Lunar Module, applauding the Grumman staff in their contributions.

“The first thing we had to do was get Apollo 13 back,” said Stafford.

“That little Lunar Module they had, did such a wonderful job. With its propulsion in this environment in keeping those three people alive and it was built right here in Long Island, nearby in Bethpage. Apollo 11 was great, sure, but Apollo 13 was our finest hour. It was the longest week of my life. So everyone at Grumman should be proud. That Lunar Module we had was so superb. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

On April 23, 2020, the museum will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13 with Astronauts, Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, and Mission Control Directors Gene Kranz and Gerry Griffin.

Visit www.cradleofaviation.org for more information.

Cradle of Aviation Museum President, Andrew Parton, said of the event, “Tonight was another magical night when we were able to salute a true American hero, General Tom Stafford, commander of Apollo 10. He serves as a true inspiration and a shining example of the importance of remembering the great achievements of the Apollo space program.”

About the Honorees

Honoree Lt. Gen. Thomas Patten Stafford is a former NASA Astronaut, Air Force officer, and test pilot.

In May 1969, he commanded Apollo 10, the second crewed mission to orbit the Moon and the first flight of the Lunar Module, flying the LM down to within nine miles of the moon’s surface designating the landing ellipse for the first landing, performing the first lunar rendezvous, conducting reconnaissance on future Apollo landing sites, and proving all the necessary elements of the lunar landing, with the exception of the actual landing itself.

Lt. Gen. Tom Stafford reunited with his Apollo 10 training astronaut suit while on a private tour with Museum Curator, Joshua Stoff. (Rod Leonhard image)

Apollo 10 (Stafford’s spacesuit worn during training for Apollo 10 between 1968-69 is on permanent display at the museum)

Honoree Perry K. Youngwall is the President/CEO of Transaero, Inc. is responsible for transforming the Transaero, Inc. company from a small broker of surplus parts into a world-leading distributor of engineered products serving the U.S. Government legacy spares market. Transaero, Inc.

He represents many major aerospace OEM’s including prestigious Long Island-based companies such as Air Industries, Ausco, Betatronix, Circor, Cox & Company, Curtiss Wright, Magellan Aerospace, Precision Gear, US Dynamics and Vaupell. Founded in 1953 by Shell Youngwall, Transaero, Inc. is pleased to be celebrating its 65th successful year in business.

Honoree Huntley A. Lawrence is the Director, Aviation Department for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Lawrence began his career at the Port Authority in 1985 in airport operations, working at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International Airport before joining the Properties and Commercial Development division at Newark Liberty.

In 2006, he became the General Manager of Security and Technology for the Aviation Department. Lawrence served as Deputy General Manager and later as General Manager for New Jersey Airports, before being named Deputy Director of Aviation two years ago.

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