MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation has announced the recipients of its two prominent awards, which will be presented at the Fantasy of Flight air museum in Polk City, Florida, March 29.
Legendary inventor Forrest Bird has been selected to receive the 2012 Lindbergh Award, and businessman-philanthropist James C. Ray has been named recipient of the Spirit Award.
Noting similarities between air flowing over the wings of an airplane and air moving through the lungs, Dr. Forrest Bird created the earliest versions of the now-prolific “Bird Respirator” for high-altitude flight and hospitals. Bird respirators freed polio victims from the confinement of the iron lung and were the first mass-produced respirators in the world.
Bird and his wife, Pam, live on Lake Pend d’Oreille in northern Idaho where they support aviation history and education through the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center. They also both fly various aircraft from their private runway.
While working in Hawaii as a steelworker for the U.S. Navy, James C. Ray, pilot, businessman, and philanthropist, was an eyewitness to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and flew a total of 30 B-17 missions from Rattlesden, England, including raids on German factories, and was a lead pilot on a D-Day attack on enemy headquarters in Normandy, France.
After the war, Ray flew his Cessna 170B on business and personal trips that took him to 58 countries and every Caribbean island with a landing strip. He has accumulated more than 3,500 hours in single-pilot Citation jets flying across North America as a rancher, oil and gas explorer, and real estate developer.
A successful businessman, Ray has provided start-up funding for more than 300 businesses including Eclipse Aviation and Cirrus Design. Ray’s philanthropy is predominantly dedicated to aviation-oriented youth education programs. He made a significant contribution for the building of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy on the grounds of Sun ‘n Fun. Ray also provides financial support to the Experimental Aircraft Association and its Young Eagles program; the University of North Dakota Aerospace programs; the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington; and the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour in Everett, Washington.
The Lindbergh Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Anoka, Minnesota, which focuses on technological breakthroughs to address significant aviation-environmental issues.