Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and four other test pilots will be inducted into Lancaster's Aerospace Walk of Honor this weekend in a ceremony that will feature a keynote speech by NASA chief Richard Truly, city officials announced Monday.
The other inductees to be honored with granite monuments during the second annual event are retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Frank Kendall Everest Jr., retired Air Force Lt. Col. Fitzhugh L. Fulton Jr. and two deceased pilots, Air Force Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Joseph Walker. Armstrong, Everest and Fulton will attend.
The Walk of Honor is Lancaster's celebration of its ties to the test pilots who pioneered aerospace development at Edwards Air Force Base, about 20 miles to the northeast. A $50-a-plate black-tie dinner is scheduled for Saturday and the unveiling ceremony is at 2 p.m. Sunday. The public ceremony will be held outside Lancaster's soon-to-open Performing Arts Center on Lancaster Boulevard at Fern Avenue. Five other test pilots led by Chuck Yeager were the first group inducted last year.
As with last year's group, each of this year's five inductees will have a six-foot-high, 675-pound granite monument placed on the boulevard. Each monument has an 18-inch-diameter aluminum logo and a bronze plaque naming the honoree and listing his achievements.
Lancaster spokeswoman Nancy Walker said the city budgeted about $87,000 for this year's events, including the cost of the monuments. Some of the city's expenses will be offset by a $5,000 grant from Lockheed Corp. and proceeds from the dinner. About 230 of 300 tickets had been sold as of Monday, she said.
The honorees were selected by a panel of seven people--five with military or commercial aviation backgrounds and two with non-aerospace backgrounds--whose identities are a secret, Walker said. Not even the panel members know each other, she said. The secrecy is intended to preserve impartiality.
Armstrong, 61, walked on the moon July 20, 1969, along with Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, during the three-man Apollo 11 lunar mission. As a test pilot, he logged more than 6,000 hours of flight time in more than 200 types of aircraft. The Ohio native is now a computer firm executive.
Everest, 71, was a pioneer in U.S. rocket aircraft flying, testing about 122 different types of planes and logging more than 10,000 flight hours. He set the Bell X-1 altitude record at 73,000 feet and the world speed record for an F-100A of 755.15 m.p.h. in 1953. He resides in Arizona.
Fulton, who still lives in the Lancaster area, had more than 16,000 flight hours in about 235 different types of aircraft, having tested most of the U.S. military bombers and transports developed in the past 40 years. He also was a combat pilot in the Korean War and former chief test pilot for NASA.
Boyd had more than 23,000 hours of flight time in 723 military aircraft prior to his death in September, 1976, from natural causes at age 69. When he retired in 1957, he was believed to have flown every plane in the Air Force's inventory and is considered the "Father of Modern Flight Testing."
Walker was a pioneering test pilot in the X-15 rocket aircraft, setting numerous records and winning many awards during a 21-year career. Walker, who has a junior high school in Quartz Hill named after him, died at age 45 in a June 8, 1966, midair collision near Edwards while he was flying an experimental bomber.