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Wed, Mar 20, 2024

National Aeronautic Association Says Farewell to Tom Stafford

Commemorations Roll in For Longtime Advocate

The National Aeronautic Association Board also commented on the passage of Lieutenant General Tom Stafford of the US Air Force.

Their eulogy stands apart from some of the others, emphasizing Stafford's past as a general pilot and aviator over his time as a NASA astronaut and space advocate. It's an interesting thing to see, tracking the life of someone who literally climbed up the ranks from square one to eventually touch the absolute peak of aeronautics. In addition to repairing the Hubble Telescope on an EVA mission, Stafford had a hand in developing legendary aircraft like the B-1A and F-15. As the US Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development, and Acquisitions, Stafford even "conceived of and urged the development of stealth aircraft technology, which later led to the F-117, B-2, and F-22 Raptor."

"In his long and distinguished career, General Stafford was a fighter pilot, flight instructor, distinguished test pilot, pioneering astronaut, aerospace record-setter, author, and advisor to federal agencies and U.S. Presidents alike," said the NAA Board's commentary. "He established a successful pattern that led directly from the Gemini missions to the International Space Station. His Apollo X mission was a pathfinder that laid the foundation for the successful lunar landings. Today’s international cooperation and partnership in space was forged upon the historic handshake he offered his Soviet counterpart during the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975."

"We have lost a giant," added NAA Board Chair Jim Albaugh. "Tom was an engineer, a pilot, an astronaut, a mentor, and a friend. He played a large part in so many NASA and Air Force Programs. His kindness and personal touch will be missed by all who knew him."

"Another extraordinary legend of American aerospace is gone," said Amy Spowart, President and CEO of the NAA. "Tom Stafford was a giant among people, and his desire to champion the wonder of aviation and the glory of space was infectious. His passion and legacy will live on for generations."



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