Congratulations to the 2019 Howard Hughes Memorial Award Winner, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger has been dedicated to the pursuit of safety for his entire adult life. While he is best known for serving as Captain during what has been called the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Sullenberger is a safety expert, speaker, and author. He still flies privately.

Born in Denison, Texas, Sullenberger pursued his childhood love of aviation, learning to fly at 16. Upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, he served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, then was an airline pilot, instructor, and accident investigator until his retirement in March 2010.

Sullenberger became internationally renowned on January 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City’s frigid Hudson River. Sullenberger and his crew received international acclaim for their actions, including the passage of a Congressional resolution recognizing their bravery. Sullenberger was ranked second in TIME‘s “Top 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons of 2009” and was awarded the French Legion of Honour.

Sullenberger is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters and also wrote Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders. Clint Eastwood directed the major motion picture about Sullenberger, titled SULLY, based on Highest Duty, with Tom Hanks in the lead role. The film was released to critical acclaim in September 2016. Highest Duty was republished that year as SULLY: My Search for What Really Matters.

Sullenberger is an international lecturer and keynote speaker on how to achieve the highest levels of performance, reliability, and safety through effective crisis management, continuous learning, leadership, and culture.

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Hughes’ first cousin, William R. Lummis, established the award in 1978, and the Aero Club of Southern California presents the award annually.

Recent recipients of the award include
SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell.

About the Howard Hughes Memorial Medallion

The solid silver medallion, cast in silver from Hughes’ Nevada mines, depicts Hughes from the era when he was designing and flying his famed Flying Boat and setting world aviation records.

The reverse side highlights other aspects of Hughes’ life – the Hughes drill bit, a film reel, a landing falcon, the state of Nevada, the earth encircled with stars for his around-the-world record, the first communications satellite, and the Flying Boat cresting the waves of Long Beach Harbor.

The medallion was designed and executed by sculptor Joseph Princiotta.


About the Howard Hughes Memorial Trophy

The Howard Hughes Memorial trophy is a globe and vehicle sculpture with recipients’ names engraved on the base.

About the Howard Hughes Memorial Trophy


The Howard Hughes Memorial trophy is a globe and vehicle sculpture with recipients’ names engraved on the base.

Howard Hughes Memorial Award Recipients include:

  • 1978 – Jack Northrop
  • 1979 – Jimmy Doolittle
  • 1980 – Pat Hyland
  • 1981 – Bob Six
  • 1982 – Kelly Johnson
  • 1983 – Chuck Yeager
  • 1984 – Ed Heineman
  • 1985 – Barry Goldwater
  • 1986 – Pete Conrad
  • 1987 – Allen Paulsen
  • 1988 – No Award Presented
  • 1989 – Si Ramo
  • 1990 – Jack Real
  • 1991 – Ben Rich
  • 1992 – Clifton Moore
  • 1993 – Lee Atwood
  • 1994 – Harry Wetzel
  • 1995 – Bobbi Trout
  • 1996 – Tom Jones
  • 1997 – Allen Puckett
  • 1998 – Paul MacCready
  • 1999 – John Brizendine
  • 2000 – Willis Hawkins
  • 2001 – Sam Iacobellis
  • 2002 – Kent Kressa
  • 2003 – Neil Armstrong
  • 2004 – Frank Robinson
  • 2005 – Burt Rutan
  • 2006 – Eileen Collins
  • 2007 – James Albaugh
  • 2008 – Ron Sugar
  • 2009 – Bob Hoover
  • 2010 – Fred Smith
  • 2011 – Clay Lacy
  • 2012 – Steven Udvar-Hazy
  • 2013 – Dr. Edward Stone
  • 2014 – Elon Musk
  • 2015- Jim Lovell
  • 2016 – Wes Bush
  • 2017 – Marillyn Hewson
  • 2018 – Buzz Aldrin

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