Sarah Keegan Headquarters, Washington (Phone: 202/358-1902


Dec. 17, 2002

Christian Markow/Julie Breissinger Centennial of Flight Commission, Washington (Phone: 804/675-8153/8167) RELEASE: 02-247 NASA HELPS KICK OFF NATIONAL CENTENNIAL OF FLIGHT CELEBRATION NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe helped kick-off the Nation's celebration of the Centennial of Flight today in Washington. O'Keefe shared anecdotes demonstrating the transforming power of early flight experiences in the lives of some of the legends and heroes of American aviation. Aviation icons, including astronauts Dr. Neil Armstrong and Sen. John Glenn, relatives of the Wright brothers, actor and aviator John Travolta, and others met at the "Centennial of Flight: Born of Dreams -- Inspired by Freedom" kick off event to celebrate the history of flight at the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum (NASM). NASA, in partnership with the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and NASM, kicked off the national celebration honoring the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers on the 99th anniversary of their first flight. This event was the first of many Centennial festivities throughout the country, including Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of aviation, and Kitty Hawk, N.C., the site of the Wright brothers' first successful powered flight at 10:35 a.m. Dec. 17, 1903. Armstrong and Glenn, along with Amanda Wright Lane, greatgrand niece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, were among a group of 12 aviation pioneers honored in today's ceremony. Collectively, the group represented the millions of men and women who have influenced aviation and space flight. Other honorees included: * Dr. Vance Coffman, chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin * Henry Ford, Ford Motor founder, represented by greatgrandson Edsel B. Ford II

* Gen. David Lee "Tex" Hill, World War II fighter pilot and ace * Amelia Earhart, represented by niece Amy Kleppner * Charles Lindbergh, represented by grandson Erik Lindbergh * Dr. Shannon Lucid, NASA's chief scientist * Pamela Melroy, NASA astronaut * Jody McCarrell, president of the Ninety Nines * Col. Charles McGee, representing the Tuskegee Airmen Amanda Wright Lane, great-grand niece of the Wright brothers, said, "Although my great uncles were humble men, they would be proud of what this celebration is inspiring." Speakers and participants also included: Deputy Secretary of Transportation Michael Jackson; FAA Administrator Marion Blakey; and U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission Chairman and NASM Director Gen. J.R. (Jack) Dailey. Dailey said, "The stories of the Wright brothers, and the pioneers of flight who followed them, are filled with examples of determination, innovation and a passion to make our dreams a reality. Today it's fitting that we begin this celebration in a place filled with icons of that spirit -- a spirit we hope to rekindle across the nation, " he said. In addition to the individuals honored during the event, the Centennial Partners, who are planning events and activities to honor the Wright brothers and aviation history in 2003, were also introduced. Partners other than NASA include: * Inventing Flight: Dayton 2003 * U.S. Air Force * American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics * EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk presented by Ford Motor Company * Aviation Week * Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) * Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum * Fayetteville Festival of Flight * Space Day Foundation * Rockefeller Center * North Carolina First Flight Centennial Commission * North Carolina First Flight Centennial Foundation Actor John Travolta, master of ceremonies for the event, said, "Look to this year, the Centennial of Flight

celebration, to inspire us. Look to these stories of greatness to drive us to accomplish our own feats, be they of global consequence or personal fulfillment." Travolta is a licensed jet pilot, and he has logged close to 5,000 hours since earning his wings in 1974. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission was created by Congress to expand national and international interest in the commemoration of the centennial of powered flight. The Commission is coordinating a national outreach campaign and advising the President, Congress and federal agencies on the most effective ways to encourage and promote national and international participation in 2003. More information about the Commission and the many activities planned for 2003 is available on the Internet at: -end-