The NBAA Meritorious Service Award was established to recognize extraordinary lifelong professional contributions to aviation, and few fit within those parameters like Gene Cernan. As a member of arguably the most exclusive fraternity on this or any other world, he flew into space three times over his 13 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Cernan has the distinction of being the last human being to walk on the Moon’s surface, at least for the foreseeable future. After serving as pilot of the Gemini 9 mission (1966), which furthered NASA’s understanding of the techniques required for extra-vehicular activities, he later flew two trips to the moon. He first served as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, NASA’s final proving mission for the vehicle and testing procedures to be used for the Apollo moon landings, and as commander of Apollo 17, NASA’s final manned moon mission in 1972.
A career U.S. Navy aviator, Eugene “Gene” Cernan retired from both the military as a captain and from NASA in 1976, and went into private business. An accomplished pilot, Cernan is also a regular guest at NBAA’s annual conventions, where he frequently joins other legendary aviators in presenting the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s annual Combs Gates Award, which honors aviation history, research and preservation efforts.
Cernan was awarded a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Certificate from the FAA during a presentation at NBAA’s 2010 convention. He has been recognized with numerous other noteworthy honors, including the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal the FAI International Gold Medal for Space and NASA’s first Ambassador of Exploration Award.
“Gene Cernan often talks about the ‘yearning restlessness’ that he’s experienced since leaving the moon’s Taurus-Littrow valley, and over the past 40 years he’s channeled that energy into tirelessly promoting aviation interests, including business aviation, and humanity’s continuing presence in space,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are pleased to present the NBAA Meritorious Service to Aviation Award to a champion of the global aviation community and an inspiration to the next generation of aerospace pioneer.”
The Meritorious Service Award will be presented to Cernan during the Second Day General Session tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Central Hall C2 on the exhibit floor.