Meyer joins aerospace pantheon

 - July 27, 2009, 8:15 AM

The National Aviation Hall of Fame honored one of general aviation’s most influential figures when it inducted Russell Meyer Jr., former chairman and CEO of Cessna, as part of this year’s class in recognition of his contribution and dedication to the general aviation industry. He joined fellow inductees Eileen Collins, Edward White and James Stewart. The last two were honored posthumously.

Meyer, who led the Wichita airframer from 1975 to 2003, was a leader in the passage of 1994’s General Aviation Revitalization Act, which limited the liability of aircraft manufacturers. “His greatest contribution was in his role as the force that re-energized America’s general aviation industry in the mid-1990s, solidifying our nation’s global leadership position,” said Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton. “That leadership translates directly today into many thousands of direct jobs across the country, and millions more that benefit from business and general aviation.”

During his career, Meyer was recognized by the aviation industry with two Collier Trophies, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy and NBAA’s Meritorious Service Award. “Russ Meyer is a visionary who embodies the spirit and passion that are the hallmarks of general aviation,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.

“It is tremendous to see that Russ’s accomplishments, which have helped define business aviation as we know it, will now be recognized alongside those of other aviation pioneers.”

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, Meyer has logged more than 17,000 hours in more than 50 aircraft types. He was also involved in the formation of the “Be A Pilot” educational program as well as a founder of the Citation Special Olympics Airlift.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees included three other aerospace notables. They are: former NASA test pilot and astronaut Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle commander; astronaut Edward (Ed) White, who made America’s first spacewalk; and Academy Award winning actor and decorated World War II pilot James (Jimmy) Stewart.