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.
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.
The Doolittle Raiders2008: The Doolittle Raiders. These brave men helped rally a nation in April 1942 by conducting America’s first offensive action against Japan.
Major General William Anders2009: Major General William Anders. The Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 8 space mission, Anders went on to serve in high-level positions with NASA, the Atomic Energy Commission, and in private business.
Colonel Bud Anderson2014: Colonel Bud Anderson. With 161 missions in his P-51 Mustang “Old Crow,” Clarence “Bud” Anderson attained just over 16 aerial victories, demonstrating incredible skill and grit.
2016: Colonel Bud Anderson. Returning to the podium, this time in recognition of his role as an air force test pilot. Through his example, we saluted all flight test pilots for advancing aviation technology.