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Texas’ Oldest Chapter Celebrates 55th Birthday

Apollo’s Gene Kranz awarded EAA Lifetime Membership

Steve Noujaim
EAA Chapter 12 President Phil Perry presents Gene Kranz with an EAA Lifetime Membership.

September 2, 2010 — Last weekend, August 28, nearly 200 people gathered at West Houston Airport (KIWS) to celebrate EAA Chapter 12’s 55th year as an affiliate with the Experimental Aircraft Association. Founded in 1955, Houston-based EAA Chapter 12 is the oldest EAA chapter in the state of Texas, a chapter that has seen more than half of powered flight history. Its membership has always had a relatively high number of the individuals who research, engineer, and operate space flight vehicles for Johnson Space Center (JSC).

Phil Perry, chapter president, remarked, “The experience was unique. Several of the early chapter members heard we were celebrating our history and started to rally around this opportunity to get the group together again. Many of the original members were carrying around photo albums of past memories.”

That includes Dave Mason, chapter president from 44 years ago who showed some old 8x10 photos of a chapter meeting where NASA came to demonstrate the Lunar Lander Simulator astronauts used to practice moon landings. Dave helped keep the chapter together in the mid-1960s by recognizing the grass roots need for an EAA chapter in Houston.

Also present Saturday was Gene Kranz, famous flight director of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission who led the ground-based team in finding a solution to bring astronauts James Lovell, John “Jack” Swigert, and Fred Haise home after an explosion in the service module. Gene had the audience on the edge of their seats as he told his personal story of Apollo 13, talking through his decision processes and how those decisions impacted the mission.

Following Gene’s presentation, he was surprised by a special award courtesy of EAA Chairman/President Tom Poberezny. In recognition of his lifetime achievement in aviation and his continued efforts to promote leadership, values, trust, and teamwork within the youth community, Gene was awarded an EAA Lifetime Membership.

To learn more about the chapter, click here.

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