Thirty-five years ago, on December 14, 1972, after spending three days on the moon, Eugene A. Cernan returned to the Apollo 17 lunar-lander and stepped into the history books as the last man to leave his imprint on the dusty lunar surface.
Last Friday, December 14, on the anniversary of this historic event, Bombardier Aerospace was among the more than 800 guests in attendance at the 2007 Wright Brothers Memorial Dinner held in Washington D.C., to congratulate Eugene A. Cernan – astronaut, naval aviator, aerospace ambassador and last person to walk on the moon – on winning the 2007 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. Bombardier was a principal sponsor of this prestigious event.
Captain Cernan (USN-retired) has been a Bombardier Ambassador for the Business Aircraft unit of Bombardier Aerospace since 1997, and he has played a pivotal role over the past eight years at the annual Bombardier Safety Standdown – the pre-eminent aviation safety seminar in the industry – held in Wichita, Kansas, each year.
“Bombardier is proud of its association with Gene Cernan,” said Pierre Beaudoin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Aerospace. “This award is a testament to the many outstanding achievements he has accomplished over the course of his illustrious career in aerospace and highlights the respect in which Gene is held by the aerospace community. We wish to extend our warmest congratulations to Captain Cernan on this memorable occasion.”
The Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, presented annually by the National Aeronautic Association at the Aero Club of Washington's annual Wright Brothers Memorial Dinner, is awarded “to a living American for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” It is one of the most prestigious aviation trophies in the world. Previous winners include Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, Senator Barry Goldwater, Herb Kelleher, Neil Armstrong and Senator John Glenn.
Captain Cernan was selected for his extraordinary lifetime of achievements.
As an astronaut during the early years of the space program, Cernan voyaged into outer space three times. One of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963, he helped pilot the Gemini IX mission in 1966 and became the second American to walk in space.
On his second space flight, in 1969, he was lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, the final test of an Apollo lunar module. During this mission he piloted the Lunar Module to within eight nautical miles of the moon’s surface. Cernan's next assignment was backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 14.
Finally, in 1972, as Spacecraft Commander of Apollo 17 — the last scheduled manned mission to the moon for the United States —he stepped into history as the last man to walk on the moon. He is also one of only three humans ever to make two trips to the moon.
After logging 566 hours and 15 minutes in space during his astronaut tour – of which more than 75 were spent on the surface of the moon – Cernan assumed additional duties for NASA in 1973 relating to the development and evaluation of the joint United States/Soviet Union Apollo-Soyuz mission. He also acted for the program manager as the senior United States negotiator in direct discussions with the USSR on the Apollo-Suyuz Test Project.
In 1976, after serving 20 years as a Naval aviator, Captain Cernan retired from the United States Navy. He has accumulated over 9,000 hours of flying time – mostly in jet aircraft – and made over 200 carrier landings. During this time he was rated to fly the Learjet 35. He currently advises NASA on the planned Lunar and Mars missions and has been deeply involved with the Bombardier Safety Standdown – one of the largest safety conferences in the world – for the last eight years. A Bombardier Aerospace Ambassador since 1997, Cernan is also rated and Captain qualified for the Learjet 40 XR and 45 XR aircraft and has flown the Global Express and Challenger 300 business jets.
Captain Eugene A. Cernan is president and chief executive officer of the Cernan Corporation, a space-related technology and marketing consulting firm. He is the former chairman of Johnson Engineering Corporation, a NASA contractor, prior to its acquisition by SPACEHAB Inc.
In addition, he acts as a special consultant with television networks in on-camera support of space and related documentary programming. He is featured in Ron Howard’s movie, In the Shadow of the Moon. In 2000, his book The Last Man on the Moon was published to much acclaim.
His honours and awards include the Master Pilot Award from the Federal Aviation Administration; induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame; Naval Aviation Hall of Honor; the U.S. Space Hall of Fame; and the 2007 Spirit of Lindbergh Award; two NASA Distinguished Service Medals; the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; the Joint Chiefs of Staff Superior Achievement Award; two Navy Distinguished Service Medals; the Navy Astronaut Wings; the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross; a television Emmy Award for Apollo 10; and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal for 1972.
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