Astronaut Walt Cunningham Made $660 on Apollo 7 Mission

2018 Air & Space Gala Award Recipients Discuss Inspiration in Their Acceptance Speeches

2018 Air & Space Gala Award Cradle of Aviation Museum Walt Cunningham
L to R: Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Cradle of Aviation Museum & VP, Customer Connections, Marketing, Jet Blue, Michael Stromer, Apollo 7 Astronaut, Walter Cunningham, President, Cradle of Aviation Museum, Andrew Parton. (Photo Credit: Gene Lesserson)

Over 500 museum supporters and attendees came out to celebrate and honor this year’s award recipients at the 16th Annual Air & Space Gala at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. Apollo 7 Astronaut, Walter Cunningham received the Spirit of Discovery Award; East/West Industries President Teresa Ferraro received the Leroy R. Grumman Award; and CEO and Managing Partner, MCR Development, Tyler Morse,  received the Aviation Leadership Award. As part of the year’s 50th Anniversary Countdown to Apollo Celebration, inspiration was the theme of the evening.

Cunningham was moved by the evening’s honorary bagpipe ceremony performed by the Nassau County Police Emerald Society Pipe Band. He remarked, “I cannot listen to that at my age without getting tears in my eyes. Thank you. Actually it’s an honor to be here at one the of what I believe to be one of the better museums we have in the world. My only disappointment is that they never did let me fly that F-11-1 up there,” referring to the Tiger plane hanging from the museum’s lobby formerly flown by the Blue Angels.

Cunningham discussed the program and the risk after the fatal fire of the Apollo 1 mission instantly killing astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.  “Many people asked me, Were you afraid? And I have to tell you, No. we were not afraid. And that’s the honest truth. But that does not mean we were unable or unaware of the risks that were involved. We thought rightly or wrongly we thought we could overcome all the obstacles and that our goal was worth the risk.”, commented Cunningham.

Cunningham further referenced how the astronauts and all of the thousands of people working on the mission were all of the same mindset, “If this mission fails, it won’t fail because of me.“ He added, “they were not there for the fun of it, nor for notoriety”, and joked “certainly not for money”, noting that he once calculated that the money he earned on the 11 days of the Apollo 7 mission equaled out to less than $660.

Cunningham remarked that those who fly to space over time are highly motivated to get the job done and a commitment to make every mission a success. He characterized the early Apollo missions as the “Five Steps to Land Man” on the Moon with Apollo 7’s Mission being to Test Land the Command Module.  NASA and historians however will always refer to that mission as the longest, most ambitious and 101% perfect and successful mission leading to the greatest accomplishment of the twentieth century. He referenced Magellan and the early explorers from 500 years ago who were willing to die for their efforts of circling the globe.

In closing, Cunningham acknowledged the astronauts of the Apollo program who were willing to make the sacrifice to our country and the service to history citing that some people did not make it and some people are no longer with us. He humbly ended with, “I was fortunate to be a brief part of the opportunity to fly harder, farther, faster on a mission to inspire future greatness.”

2018 Air & Space Gala Award Cradle of Aviation Museum Teresa Ferraro
L to R: President, East/West Industries, Teresa Ferraro, Chair, Board of Trustees, Director of Operations, Ausco, Marc MacDonell, President, Cradle of Aviation Museum, Andrew Parton (Photo Credit: Gene Lesserson)

East/West Industries President Teresa Ferraro was honored with the Leroy Grumman Award. “It is with deep gratitude and thanks to the Cradle of Aviation and its Board for this award. I am deeply honored and humbled by this important recognition. 35 years ago at the start of my career, I could not imagine standing here accepting this prestigious award that not only honors East/West (Industries) but honors the legacy of Leroy Grumman. I am truly honored to be standing in the shadow of such a great man.” said Ferraro in the opening of her acceptance speech.  She shared a heart-warming story of her father asking Teresa to help out at the office one day as a recent college graduate. A pilot and co-pilot, ejected from a flight wanted to visit their office and shake hands with every employee from receptionist to inspector to shipping clerk, all who played a role in saving their lives. This was a pivotal moment in Ferraro’s understanding of the importance and value of the service of father’s company was providing and an inspiration and catalyst for Ferraro’s passions and dreams.

East/West Industries, is a family-owned, woman-owned small business that was founded in 1968 by Theresa’s parents Dom and Mary Spinosa and is located in Ronkonkoma, New York. Ms. Ferraro works along her brother Joseph Spinosa, VP Business Development, in continuing the legacy set forth by their parents 50 years ago. East/West is globally recognized as a trusted provider of choice for design and manufacturing excellence of aircraft seats and other critical safety components for the industry’s most innovative aircraft.

2018 Air & Space Gala Award Cradle of Aviation Museum Tyler Morse
L to R: CEO & Managing Partner, MCR Development, Tyler Morse, General Counsel the Americans, Lufthansa German Airlines, Arthur Molins, and President, Cradle of Aviation Museum, Andrew Parton. (Photo Credit: Gene Lesserson)

Tyler Morse received the Aviation Leadership Award. He commented how thrilled he was to be part of the aviation community having previously been part of the real estate development and hotel businesses, noting it took a village to put man on the moon and takes a village to restore a historic building, referring to the stylish new and highly anticipated, vintage TWA hotel and restaurant/bar his development company is working on at JFK airport, but having the greatest time in the world doing it.

He referenced JFK’s speech about putting man on moon by end of decade and the spirit of jet aviation with the country looking skyward and acknowledged the ethos and spirit of the 60s, specifically 1962, embodied by Grumman and the engineers on LI , and in NYC and in the country and is excited to bring it back. He acknowledged and thanked many of the people he has worked with in the room including Arthur Molins, General Counsel the Americans,  Lufthansa German Airlines, who introduced him and Andrew Parton, President of the Cradle of Aviation Museum for the award. He added, “This is an incredible museum and The Cradle of Aviation does a wonderful job of bringing together the aviation community in such wonderful ways to celebrate the greatness of aviation.” And he marveled at the advancement of technology over the years noting that in 1962, 50 mm people flew on an airplane compared to 150mm in 2017, reminding the attendees that 50 years prior to 1962 people were riding horses. He acknowledged how far this community has come together since 1962 and shared his excitement to see what happens in the next fifty years.

Since co-founding MCR in 2006, Mr. Morse has led the company to its position as the seventh largest hotel owner/operator in the United States. With $2 billion of assets under management, MCR owns and operates 94 hotels (11,264 rooms) located across 67 cities and 24 states. Prior to founding MCR, Mr. Morse served as Assistant to the Chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Barry Sternlicht) and contributed to Starwood’s overall corporate investment and development initiatives.


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