Space Program Legend, Gene Kranz, Inspired Audience At EAA Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet

Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2017 issue

OSHKOSH, WIS. – EAA members and their guests who remembered the space race to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s, or have seen the hit motion picture “Apollo 13,” remember NASA mission control flight director, Gene Kranz – the guy with the crew cut, who wore a white vest during launches at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kranz was the featured speaker for the annual EAA Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet, December 10, 2016 at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

Kranz described his time as a fighter pilot and test pilot before joining NASA’s space program, and gave his personal recollection of the events that took place during the Apollo 13 mission in April 1970, and other memorable launches, to a sell-out crowd of 445 people.

Kranz largely credited the safe return of Apollo 13’s crew to the space program’s excellent leadership and to the mutual trust shared between the crew and mission control.

At the conclusion of the banquet, Kranz donated the flight helmet he wore during his time as an F-86 Sabre pilot in the Korean War to the EAA AirVenture Museum. EAA plans to display the helmet alongside its F-86 Sabre, which bears the markings of the Sabre Kranz flew and named after his wife, “My Darling Marta.”

Afterward, EAA Museum Programs representative, Chris Henry, presented Kranz with a commemorative plaque and special EAA vest — a nod to Kranz’s signature apparel.

This was the first time EAA has sold out of tickets for its Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet.

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