The Howard Hughes Memorial Award is presented annually by the Aero Club of Southern California to an aerospace leader whose accomplishments over a long career have contributed significantly to the advancement of aviation or space technology.
The solid silver medallion is cast from silver mined in Hughes’ Nevada mines. HHMA past recipients — a veritable “hall of fame” of industry achievers — are Jack Northrop, Jimmy Doolittle, Pat Hyland, Bob Six, Kelly Johnson, Chuck Yeager, Ed Heinemann, Barry Goldwater Sr., Pete Conrad, Allen Paulson, Si Ramo, Jack Real, Ben Rich, Clif Moore, Lee Atwood, Harry Wetzel, Bobbi Trout, Tom Jones, Allen Puckett, Paul B. MacCready, John Brizendine, Willis Hawkins, Sam Iacobellis, Kent Kresa, Neil Armstrong, Frank Robinson, Burt Rutan, Eileen Collins, James Albaugh, Ron Sugar, Bob Hoover, Fred Smith and Clay Lacy.
As a tribute to Howard Hughes, his first cousin William R. Lummis, then chairman and CEO of Summa Corp., in 1978 established the Howard Hughes Medal for leadership in aviation.
The trophy (left) is a globe and vehicle sculpture with names of recipients engraved on the base. Until 1991 Will Lummis personally presented the medallion to the annual recipient. It is now presented by the former recipient.
The solid silver medallion depicts Hughes from the era when he was designing and flying his famed Flying Boat, setting world records, dressed in the familiar brown fedora, open shirt and two-toned sports jacket. The reverse side of the medallion signifies aspects of Hughes’ varied life – the Hughes drilling bit, a reel of film, a landing falcon, the state of Nevada, the earth with a circle of stars symbolizing his round-the-world record, the first communications satellite, and the Flying Boat as it crests the waves of Long Beach Harbor. The medallion was designed and executed by sculptor Joseph Princiottai.