Four Lindbergh Awardees Reflect on Living Life on Earth at the 30th Annual Lindbergh Award Celebration

MINNEAPOLIS, June 8, 2007 — “Perspectives on the Earth – From Home, Above and Beyond” was the theme for the Lindbergh Foundation’s 30th annual Lindbergh Award Celebration on May 16 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The Foundation presented four awards this year. National Geographic Society Conservation Fellow and Wildlife Conservation Society Conservationist Dr. J. Michael Fay received the annual 2007 Lindbergh Award. In honor of the 80th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s pioneering New York-to-Paris flight in 1927, Astronaut Eugene Cernan, widely recognized as the last man on the moon, received the Foundation’s Spirit Award.  Acclaimed Author and Architect Sarah Susanka received the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award.  Google received the second annual Corporate Award for Balance.

Lindbergh Award
The annual Lindbergh Award builds on the Foundation’s mission of supporting technological solutions to improve our environment for a sustainable future, as it honors individuals who, through their work, have made significant contributions toward achieving a nature/technology balance. “Dr. Fay has devoted his career to conservation. His use of technology to collect information about the environment so that people around the world can learn about the importance of sustainability and become inspired to take action is just the kind of life-long dedication the Foundation seeks to honor with our Lindbergh Award,” said Foundation Chairman Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  

Miles O’Brien, Foundation board member and CNN correspondent, served as the Master of Ceremonies during the program.  While introducing Dr. Michael Fay, O’Brien touched on Fay’s two mega-trips stating that his work “seems to us to perfectly embody the Lindbergh philosophy … that technology is a tool for saving our planet.” 

Fay has had numerous major conservation successes while conducting research on Africa’s plants and animals. He helped create new national parks, and launched epic expeditions that captured the imagination of the public while saving wild lands for future generations. The first trip, the “Mega Transect,” occurred from 1999 to 2000 during which Fay walked nearly 2,000 miles through an intact forest corridor that spanned from the Oubangui River in the Republic of Congo through Gabon to the Atlantic Ocean.  During the trip, he collected GPS readings and data on the trees, wildlife and indications of human disturbance on this uninhabited forest.

A seasoned pilot, Dr. Fay embarked upon a “Megaflyover” of Africa in 2004 using a specially designed Cessna 182.  In conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Human Footprint project, he conducted an aerial expedition of the continent, assessing the state of the wild lands and human disturbances on them.  Flying more than 60,000 miles in a plane fitted with digital and video camera and GIS/GPS equipment, he captured images of the landscape that measured the degree of human influence across global landscapes.  The latitude, longitude and altitude of each image were also recorded. “My grandfather would have loved meeting Michael Fay,” said Erik Lindbergh.  “Grandfather spent a great deal of time in Africa himself and it was there that he really came to understand the delicacy of the human/nature relationship.  He would have truly appreciated Dr. Fay’s work in Africa.” 

During his acceptance, Dr. Fay discussed the growing human population, shrinking habitat for wildlife in Africa, and pointed out that the U.S. is experiencing similar problems. He explained that by adjusting how we manage our natural resources just a little bit, we could begin to reverse the current decline in production from natural resources and enjoy the benefits of a healthy environment. “Bottom-up power is what we need to survive on this planet,” said Fay. He then implored the audience to recognize the need for every individual on the planet to make changes in their daily lives in support of the environment that ultimately supports our very existence. “I believe, very strongly, that if we pay attention, we will be able to survive. We’re all going to have to participate and we’ll all have to act.” He closed his talk by stating that, “we can do it, and the Lindbergh spirit of ‘can do’ and ‘making dreams happen’ is the way to do it.”

Spirit Award
For his pioneering achievements in an aviation career and a spirit and character that represent the best of this nation, Astronaut Eugene Cernan received the Lindbergh Foundation’s Spirit Award, which is given every five years near the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic New York-to-Paris flight. Previous recipients of the Spirit Award are: Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., 1997, and Sen. John Glenn, 2002.  Capt. Cernan has had a remarkable career in the United States space program.  He flew on three separate space missions, and was the second American to walk in space as the pilot on Gemini IX.  He was one of a crew of three to venture to the moon on Apollo X, and was Commander of Apollo XVII.  One of only two men to have flown to the moon twice, Capt. Cernan also has the distinction of being the last man on the moon.  Cernan has logged more than 566 hours in space, with more than 73 hours on the surface of the moon. The last mission to the moon established several new records for manned space flight that include the longest manned lunar landing flight, longest lunar surface extravehicular activities, the largest lunar sample return, and the longest time in lunar orbit.

Capt. Cernan began his remarks with heartfelt thanks and a touching series of stories about tracing his daughter’s initials in the dust on the moon, and introducing his 11-year-old grandson, (who was in the audience with Cernan’s wife, daughter and son-in-law) to Erik Lindbergh. After explaining that Erik retraced his grandfather’s New York-to-Paris flight in an airplane, Cernan tearfully looked at his grandson and said, “The challenge I give to you is to trace the steps of your grandfather back to the moon.”  He went on to speak about the now obsolete technology that helped us achieve our dreams of reaching space and the feelings he experienced while on the moon. Cernan said, “Science and technology is a phenomenal thing. It got me to the moon, and it set me on a plateau. I looked back home at the beauty of this earth, that, from my point of view, was just too beautiful to have happened by accident.” Finally, Cernan encouraged kids to dream.  “I tell kids today to shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, I can promise you, you’ll land somewhere among the stars.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award
Bestselling Author Sarah Susanka, accepted the Foundation’s Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award for outstanding individual achievement, a spirit of initiative, and work that exemplifies great dedication toward making positive contributions to our world.  Dr. Sally Ride was the first recipient of this award in 2003.  Sarah Susanka is leading a movement to redefine the American home and lifestyle.  Her “build better, not bigger” approach to residential architecture has been embraced across the country and her “Not So Big” philosophy is evolving beyond houses and into how we actually live our lives.  She is widely recognized for her “Not So Big House” series of books in which she focuses on the sustainable ideology of building better, not necessarily bigger homes, leaving a smaller footprint on the planet.

Ms. Susanka’s acceptance revolved around her new book, “The Not So Big Life,” which addresses the need to scale down our lives and focus instead on the importance of leading a balanced life. She suggested that people begin to design their homes to be personal. “When you make something beautiful it gets looked after, and that is a sustainable act,” she said. Living the “not so big life,” Susanka explained, is to cast off the burdens of constantly striving for more and begin to recognize when we have enough of anything, and then seek other ways of engaging our lives to satisfy our cravings for “more.” “The key is to find ourselves in our own lives,” Susanka said. “If we all followed our passions, this would be a most amazing place to live. The creativity would be beyond our wildest dreams.”

Corporate Award for Balance
Google was selected to receive the Lindbergh Foundation Corporate Award for Balance, which is given to corporations or organizations whose concern for and dedication to implementing technological solutions to improve our environment is demonstrated through their business practices. Google’s prominence as an environmentally minded leader in corporate America is growing.  They are proving that large companies can be both environmentally responsible and financially profitable. This spring, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., was converted to solar power, when more than 9,200 solar panels were installed on its one million-square-foot complex.  In addition, Google engineers have developed energy-saving technology that would reduce waste from standard PC power supplies from 30-40 percent to just 10 percent. The company estimates that if this new technology were used in 100 million desktop computers that run eight hours a day, 40 billion kilowatt-hours of power could be saved over three years.  “Through its initiatives, Google has demonstrated that it is a visionary business leader in the critical area of balancing technological advancements with the care and protection of our environment,” said Erik Lindbergh.

Accepting the award on behalf of Google, Robyn Beavers, Corporate Environmental Programs, said, “The Lindbergh Foundation has set forth a legacy of innovation in technology and a positive impact on how we can change our way of life.”   She explained that Google believes the environment is a topic not just for corporate leaders, but also for everyone, and encourages their employees to make sustainable decisions in their own lives.

Other Aviation Notables in Attendance

Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr.  1982 Lindbergh Awardee and Lindbergh Foundation honorary board member, MacCready is the founder and chairman of AeroVironment, Inc. Dr. MacCready has been pioneering the use of alternate energy sources in aviation for over 50 years, developing vehicles and devices that strike a balance between nature and technology.  He became known as the “father of human-powered flight,” when his Gossamer Condor made the first sustained, controlled flight by a heavier-than-air craft powered solely by its pilot’s muscles. His Gossamer Albatross was the first aircraft to fly across the English Channel using only human power, in 1979.  Dr. MacCready also won the Kremer Prize for both his Gossamer Condor and Gossamer Albatross. 

John and Martha King.  The Kings have revolutionized the flight training industry and have taught nearly half of each year’s class of new private and instrument pilots in the United States. They are the first couple to both hold every category and class of FAA pilot and instructor certificates. And, Martha is the first and only woman to achieve this complete ratings sweep.

Greg Herrick.  Herrick is known as one of the nation’s foremost collectors of Golden Age aircraft and is a recognized leader in the aviation community. He is president of the Aviation Foundation of America and publishes AircraftOwner magazine and the Historic Aviation catalog.

The Lindbergh Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Anoka, Minnesota, which supports technological solutions to improve our environment for a sustainable future.  The Lindbergh Foundation also values individual initiative and accomplishments.  Its programs are devoted to supporting, honoring, and educating individuals, through three major programs:  the annual honorary Lindbergh Award, presented to individuals for significant contributions toward applying technological solutions to improve our environment in their work; the Lindbergh Grants program, which provides grants in amounts up to $10,580 (the cost of building the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927) for research or education projects that will make important contributions to the technology/environment balance; and a variety of educational events and publications centered on the balance theme. 

Source: The Lindbergh Foundation
Pictures: provided courtesy of the Lindbergh Foundation - by Kent Flemmer

For further information about The Lindbergh Foundation, click here

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