Planes of Fame Air Museum Taste of Flight Gala November 12 2022 Save the Date

Tickets on sale soon!

Sign up to be the first to know:

Thanks for submitting!

Achievement in Aviation Award

The Achievement in Aviation Award is presented each year by the Planes of Fame Air Museum. It recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of aviation. 

2022 Honoree

Dan A. Pedersen

When American fighter jets were being downed at an unprecedented rate during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Navy turned to a young lieutenant commander, Dan Pedersen, to figure out a way to reverse their dark fortune. On a shoestring budget and with little support, Pedersen picked eight of the finest pilots to help train a new generation to bend jets like the F-4 Phantom to their will and learn how to dogfight all over again.

What resulted was nothing short of a revolution — one that took young American pilots from the crucible of combat training in the California desert to the blistering skies of Vietnam, in the process raising America’s Navy combat kill ratio from two enemy planes downed for every American plane lost to more than 22 to 1. Topgun emerged not only as an icon of America’s military dominance immortalized by Hollywood but as a vital institution that would shape the nation’s military strategy for generations to come.