On June 6th, five Apollo Astronauts and two Apollo Flight Directors helped the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island celebrate the 50th Anniversary of NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission, the first time humans walked on the moon.
That day – part of a multi-year series of CAM events leading up to the anniversary on July 20, 2019 – started with a Press Conference featuring many who would be guests at the dinner that night: Apollo astronauts and flight directors, plus Long Islanders who worked for Grumman when it was NASA’s LEM contractor:
Days after the event, I realized Peter Kelly was the youngest son of the late Thomas J. Kelly, Long Island’s aerospace engineer who led the design team for the Lunar Module and whom NASA calls the Father of the Lunar Module.
FYI from fLI: Thomas Kelly was born in Brooklyn in 1929, and he was raised in Merrick – where I was born and raised, decades later. One of us graduated valedictorian from Mepham High School, and the other taught there briefly during a long career in Bellmore-Merrick CHSD.
Freeport H.S. Groups
Three student groups from Freeport High School performed at the Apollo at 50 Anniversary Dinner and Cocktail Hour: FHS Select Chorale singers, FHS Upperclassman Jazz Band musicians, and FHS Navy Junior ROTC cadets.
Space memorabilia and space-themed Items donated for the Silent Auction fundraiser were on display in a corridor off the ground floor level of the atrium. Interested bidders didn’t need to be at the anniversary dinner, since bids were placed securely online.
The 10th Annual Cradle of Aviation Museum Air & Space Gala, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 17, had a soaring setting – the 3-story atrium lobby and the main Exhibition Hall of the world-class aviation museum.
Apollo 17 Astronaut and former U.S. Senator HARRISON SCHMITT received the Spirit of Discovery Award, PETER RETTALIATA received the Leroy R. Grumman Award, and TODD RICHMAN received the Donald E. Axinn community Service Award.
Those speaking also included ANDREW PARTON, LINDA ARMYN, MARC MACDONALL, and LUIS TOLOSA, a graduate of the Westbury STEM Magnet Academy of the Cradle of Aviation (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math).
The Gala, which was a few months later than originally scheduled due to Hurricane Sandy, also featured a performance by St. Anthony High School’s “Celtic Friars” Pipe Band (South Huntington), a band and dancing, and a Silent Auction of items such as aviation and sports memorabilia, including an eye-catching large framed poster of Long Island Astronauts.
10th Annual Cradle of Aviation Air & Space Gala: GALLERY