Celebrating Our Centennial Aerospace Champions

For over 100 years, our industry has helped our nation reach some of its greatest achievements in the twentieth century. From our first flight through the skies, to putting a man on the Moon, to protecting our nation, the work of our members has defined American leadership.

As we gathered to celebrate AIA’s Centennial – and in recognition of the millions of individuals who helped shape American aerospace and defense over the past century – we presented our prestigious Wings of Liberty award to three Centennial Aerospace Champions who represent our industry’s enduring missions to move, secure, and connect our world. Whether by carrying on their family’s legacy or forging new ground of their own, Amanda Wright Lane, Susan Eisenhower, and Beverly Bass all represent the greatest aspirations of our industry.

Amanda Wright Lane

The great grandniece of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Amanda Wright Lane has played a very active role in our industry and its mission to move us. Serving as both the official Wright family spokesperson and in leading roles in the First Flight and Wright Family foundations, Amanda has made it her mission to spread the passion of aviation around the world. Her legacy and that of her distinguished family represents how the aerospace industry has changed the way we move since that first powered flight at Kitty Hawk.

Susan Eisenhower

Susan Eisenhower is the granddaughter of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose numerous contributions to our national defense include his tenure as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, as well as his work to establish the predecessor of NASA and prioritize air power during his Presidency. Susan has continued her grandfather’s legacy by serving on the NASA Advisory Council, where she assisted in the organization of the effort to build the International Space Station and advanced nonproliferation through her membership on the Baker-Cutler Commission. Susan and her grandfather represent how our industry has secured our nation and world.

Beverley Bass

Perhaps one of the most personal ways in which our industry shapes lives is its ability to connect us with one another – a trait pilot Beverley Bass perfectly represents. Beverley was a trailblazer in aviation, becoming only the third female pilot employed by American Airlines in 1976, the first female captain in 1985, and the lead of the first all-female aircrew in 1986. She used her passion to build a career of connecting friends and family from around our world, while breaking down gender boundaries and norms. On top of her glass ceiling-shattering work, she also co-founded International Society of Woman Airline Pilots, which inspires young women to explore careers in aviation.

Keynote Speaker: General Colin Powell

Capping off the evening’s festivities was a keynote address by former Secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell. In his remarks, Powell addressed the great challenges of our time and outlined ways to address them.

Much like the last century, our nation will be faced with great challenges into the future. But once again, American aerospace and defense will rise to the challenge with the adventurous and industrious spirit that began at Kitty Hawk and endures to this day.

We look forward to the challenges and opportunities that this coming century will bring and raise a toast to those who have made our industry’s incredible accomplishments possible – the millions who look to the stars for inspiration and work to build a better world.