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Frank Borman to Speak at EAA’s Annual Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet

Frank Borman
Frank Borman
Frank Borman, pictured at an EAA fly-in in the late 1990s.

October 15, 2008 — Aviation and space legend Frank Borman will be the keynote speaker at this year’s EAA Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet, scheduled for Wednesday, December 17, in the Eagle Hangar of the EAA AirVenture Museum. EAA’s annual commemoration of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first successful powered flight will also mark the 40th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 8 space mission held in December 1968, in which Borman, EAA 300174, served as commander.

Borman was a fighter pilot, operational pilot and instructor, and an experimental test pilot while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Selected for Astronaut training in 1962, Borman commanded the Gemini 7 mission of 1965 that included the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbit. Under his command, the Apollo 8 mission provided humankind's first close-up view of the lunar surface and the dark side of the Moon during the course of 10 lunar orbits. He went on to become chairman, president, and CEO of Eastern Airlines before retiring in 1986. (Read his full bio.)

EAA’s Wright Brothers Memorial Banquet begins with a reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., followed by Borman’s keynote address. Cost to attend is $35 for EAA members and $40 for non-members. You can make your reservation online by visiting EAA’s secure website or by calling 920-426-6880.

Frank Borman
After learning to fly at the age of 15, Frank Borman attended the U.S. Military Academy and earned his Air Force wings in 1951. As a career Air Force officer his assignments included service as a fighter pilot, operational pilot and instructor, experimental test pilot and assistant professor at West Point.

Selected by NASA for astronaut training in 1962, Borman’s first flight into space was as commander of the Gemini 7 mission of 1965 that included the first rendezvous of two spacecraft in orbit. Borman and Jim Lovell linked their craft with the Gemini 6 craft manned by Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford. Upon achieving close rendezvous, they took turns flying around each other taking still pictures and movies. On the same mission, Borman and Lovell became the first men to spend 14 continuous days in space.

Borman was the only astronaut on the Review Board which investigated the Apollo 1 fire of 1967 that killed Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee. His testimony before a Senate committee helped convince Congress that Apollo would be safe to fly again. Later, as the Apollo program resident manager, he directed the re-engineering of the Apollo spacecraft.

Borman's second spaceflight was as commander of the Apollo 8 mission, the first manned voyage to a celestial body. He flew with Jim Lovell again, and also with Bill Anders. After launching on December 21, 1968, the crew took three days to travel to the moon. They orbited the moon ten times over the course of 20 hours, during which the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis. At the time, this was the most watched TV program in history.

Apollo 8's success paved the way for Apollo 11, the first manned moon landing in July 1969. During Apollo 11 Frank Borman served as a liaison to President Nixon, and later became a special presidential ambassador on a worldwide tour to encourage the release of American POWs held in North Vietnam.

Borman's retirement from the Air Force in 1970 did not end his aviation career. He joined Eastern Airlines and by 1976 had risen to chairman, president and chief executive officer, posts he held until retirement in 1986.

Since then, much of Col. Borman’s time has spent restoring and flying vintage and warbird aircraft. He has completed over 17 restorations, including several P-51 Mustangs, a Bell P-63 Kingcobra and a Waco SRE, several of which have appeared and won awards at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. He has also participated in the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight, in which old and new military airplanes are demonstrated together at air shows.

Frank Borman’s many awards include the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Harmon Trophy, the Collier Trophy, and the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal. In addition to many honorary degrees, he has been inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

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