Among the many benefits of the Museum’s National Air and Space Society is an invitation to the Society’s annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture. Featured speakers are accomplished leaders in aviation and spaceflight.

Members at the Apollo 11 Eagle level and above are treated to a special reception prior to the event, during which members have an opportunity to speak with the guest lecturer.

Fred Haise answering audience questions during his appearance at the Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.  Haise's jacket includes the NASA and Apollo 13 patches along with a patch for "The Society of Experimental Test Pilots".

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Member Evening featuring "The Real Top Gun"

When many people hear “Top Gun,” their minds go straight to the 1986 film. But aviation fans know that Top Gun is more than just a film — it’s a highly competitive, high speed aerial combat school within the Navy that has trained the best of the best. Members saw special scenes from Smithsonian Channel’s "The Real Top Gun" program and heard from Smithsonian Channel Executive Producer, Dan Wolf, writer/director of "The Real Top Gun," and Christopher Browne, Top Gun graduate and the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum, about the making of the program and what Top Gun is really like.

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Al Worden

Al Worden served as a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9 and as backup command module pilot for Apollo 12. Worden went to space on Apollo 15, serving as command module pilot. On the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 12, Al shares his unique perspective and his poetry with members.

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Chasing the Moon Panel Discussion

Chasing the Moon, a film by Robert Stone, reimagines the race to the Moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. Members got a preview of the film and heard from experts involved at this special member evening. 

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Eugene Kranz

Eugene Kranz played a critical role in many milestones in America's space program, serving as flight director for Apollo 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17. In the lead up to the 50th year anniversary of the first lunar landing in 2019, Kranz recounts highlights from his distinguished career.

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Alan Eustace

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, engineer and stratospheric explorer Alan Eustace spoke about his record-breaking space jump. Eustace and the StratEx team set three new world records: highest exit altitude at 41,422 meters (135,899 feet), longest distance of fall with drogue at 37,623 meters (123,435 feet), and highest vertical speed with drogue 1,320 km/hr (820 mph). Climbing at about 305-meters (1,000-feet) a minute, it took 2.5 hours to reach his top altitude. He was safely back on the ground just 15 minutes after cutting loose from the balloon. Eustace retired as Senior Vice President of Knowledge in April 2015 after 13 years with Google.

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Capt. James A. Lovell, USN (Ret.)

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Capt. James A. Lovell, USN (Ret.), spoke about his incredible career. Captain Lovell was the first person to fly in space four times. He was pilot on the Gemini VII flight, and commander of the Gemini XII mission. Captain Lovell served as command module pilot and navigator on Apollo 8, the first mission to enter lunar orbit. His fourth and final flight was as commander on the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.

Eric Long, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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N. Wayne Hale, Jr., Dr. Sandra H. Magnus, and Captain Robert L. Crippen, USN (Ret.)

N. Wayne Hale, Jr., NASA Flight Director and manager of the Space Shuttle Program
Dr. Sandra H. Magnus, astronaut STS-112, STS-126, ISS Expedition 18, STS-119, and STS-135
Captain Robert L. Crippen, USN (Ret.), astronaut STS-1, STS-7, STS-41C, and STS-41G

"Space Shuttle Missions and Memories," focused on the evolution of the Space Shuttle Program from those who experienced it first-hand—from the first flight to the last.

Mark Avino, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Col. Richard Graham, USAF (Ret.)

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Air Force Col. Richard Graham (Ret.), one of the 86 pilots who have experienced the thrill of flying the world's fastest jet aircraft Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, talked about this incredible plane. He was the SR-71 Squadron Commander in 1981, later becoming the 9th Wing Commander at Beale AFB.

Dane A. Penland, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Marine Corps Reserve Major General Kenneth Weir (Ret.), U-2 Pilot

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Retired Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Gen. Kenneth Weir discussed his experience flying U-2s as a Lockheed test pilot from 1972 to 1993. He accumulated more than 19,900 hours in more than 200 types and models of aircraft.

Mark Avino, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, Alan Ladwig, TK Mattingly and Dr. Steven J. Dick

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Richard "Dick" Scobee, STS-41-C, STS-51-L and Founding Chair, Challenger Center
Alan Ladwig, Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA Public Outreach
Ken Mattingly, astronaut, Apollo 16, STS-4 and STS-51-C
Dr. Steven J. Dick, astronomer, author and historian of science

"Caution and Boldness: Balancing Risk in Spaceflight" reflected on the challenges of human spaceflight, and considered possibilities for the future with the International Space Station and travel to other bodies in the solar system.

Dane A. Penland, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Alan Bean

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Alan Bean, who became the fourth man to walk on the Moon during Apollo 12 in 1969, talked about his career. After 18 years as an astronaut, he resigned from NASA in 1981 to dedicate his life to the art of painting his memories of Apollo.

Carolyn Russo, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Anousheh Ansari

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Anousheh Ansari spoke about her six months of astronaut training and experiences on the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14. She captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer and the first astronaut of Iranian descent.

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Rear Admiral Edward "Whitey" Feightner

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Rear Admiral Edward L. "Whitey" Feightner, a nine-victory WWII ace who flew F4F Wildcats and F6F Hellcats, was the featured speaker. After the war he became a test pilot at NATC Patuxent River, Md., where he tested the F7U Cutlass; he later flew as a member of the "Blue Angels."

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Captain Dale "Snort" Snodgrass USN (Ret)

As part of the annual Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Flight Jacket Night lecture series, Captain Dale "Snort" Snodgrass USN (Ret) was the featured speaker. He has performed in over 850 airshows over the course of 20 years in such legendary planes as the F-14 Tomcat, F-86 Sabre, MiG 15, MiG 17, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, Curtiss P-40, T-6 Texan/Harvard and 8KCAB Super Decathlon. He has been designated one of only ten USAF Heritage Flight Pilots.

Erik Hildebrandt Photography

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Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17

As a part of "To the Moon: The Speech that Launched Apollo," Capt. Eugene A. Cernan, USN (Ret.), Gemini and Apollo astronaut and author of The Last Man on the Moon, discussed his personal experience of carrying out President Kennedy's mandate to land on the Moon.

NASA

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