The 5th Annual Living Legends of Aviation ® awards ceremony, held Jan. 24, 2008, at California´s Beverly Hilton Hotel, was a spectacular, star-studded event. Aviation legends such as Buzz Aldrin, Maj. Gen. Bill Anders, Bob Hoover, Cliff Robertson, George McGovern, John Travolta, Clay Lacy and many more walked the coveted red carpet.
John Travolta, the 2007 Ambassador of Aviation award recipient, shared both his love of aircraft and film. During the ceremony, he read two pages from his childhood book, "Gordon´s Jet Flight," by Naomi J. Glasson, which he credited for giving him inspiration to become a pilot.
"I read this book all of the time when I was a kid; I dreamed of becoming a pilot, and someday, I hoped I would own planes. Today, I have a Boeing 707 and Gulfstream parked in my backyard," Travolta laughed, as 400-plus attendees applauded.
Along with Travolta, others received awards. Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, was honored as the Aviation Industry Leader of the Year. James D. Raisbeck, founder and president of Raisbeck Engineering and Raisbeck Commercial Air Group, was recognized as the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur. HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, founder of Emirates Airlines, received the Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year award. The Freedom of Flight award was presented to two recipients, former Sen. George McGovern and inventor and aeromedical scientist Dr. Forrest Bird.
Another highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the commemorative issue of "Living Legends of Aviation," a collection of biographies by Di Freeze, Airport Journals editor in chief. For the book, published by Centennial Journal Publishing, Freeze interviewed "aviation entrepreneurs, innovators, record breakers, astronauts, pilots who have become celebrities and celebrities who have become pilots."
Aviators featured in the book include Anders, Gene Cernan, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Barron Hilton, Hoover, Lacy, Arnold Palmer, Sydney Pollack and Robertson. Several of the chapters were a combined effort between Freeze and other writers, including Airport Journals news editor/biographer Karen Di Piazza, including biographies of Joe Clark, Julie Clark, Alan and Dale Klapmeier and Raisbeck.