San Diego Air & Space Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum will host its annual International Air & Space Hall of Fame Virtual Gala at 6 p.m. Thursday, where it will induct two influential women in the world of aviation.

The museum will induct Barbara Barrett, a businesswoman, attorney and diplomat currently serving as Secretary of the United States Air Force, and Tammie Jo Shults, retired Southwest Airlines pilot and one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy. They will join some of the world’s most significant leaders, aviators and astronauts in aviation.

“We’re especially pleased to honor these two groundbreaking and truly remarkable women aviation influencers as the distinguished Class of 2020 into the Hall of Fame,” said Jim Kidrick, president and CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum. “Aviation and space exploration, as embodied by the honorees in the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, directly represents the human pioneering and exploring spirit.”

Barrett is an instrument-rated pilot and cattle and bison rancher. As the 25th Secretary of the Air Force, Barrett leads the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, comprising the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. She also is the former chair of the Aerospace Corporation and a member on the boards of California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, RAND Corporation, Smithsonian Institution, Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and the Lasker Foundation.

Tammie Jo Shults was praised for her quick thinking and calm demeanor under pressure during an emergency landing that saved 149 passengers at Philadelphia International Airport. While in the United States Navy in 1985, served as an instructor pilot flying the F/A 18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler, eventually achieving the rank of lieutenant commander.

Since 1963, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame has honored the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space explorers. Past inductees include Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, the crews of several Apollo missions, members of the Boeing and Beech families, Richard Branson, Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn and the first person to break the sound barrier, Charles “Chuck” Yeager, who died Monday.

Registration is open to the public at https://sandiegoairandspace.org/celebration. Donations from the International Air & Space Hall of Fame celebration benefit the museum’s COVID19 Recovery Fund and Youth Education Programs.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California’s official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

–City News Service

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