On the evening of Tuesday, October 9, 2012, the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame held its annual inductee dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the event was heavily attended by the Teterboro aviation community, as well as by members of the broader aviation community throughout the State of New Jersey. Ten Meridian colleagues were among dozens of other attendees who gathered in Wood-Ridge to support the honorees on this special occasion. In addition to the award presentations, the evening included a cocktail hour, a 3-course dinner, and a chance to catch-up with old friends and colleagues from the industry. Among the guests was Meridian founder, Ken Forester, Sr. In 2008, Mr. Forester was inducted into NJAHOF.
Meridian is proud to support this important organization and its mission, and congratulates the three newest inductees:
Susan M. Baer (1950 – )
Director of Aviation
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Susan Baer of Montclair, NJ earned degrees at Barnard College and New York University and began her distinguished career with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in 1976 as an analyst. In the 1980s she became the first woman to manage the Lincoln Tunnel and, later, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. In 1988, Baer joined the Port’s Aviation Department becoming General Manager of Aviation Customer and Marketing Services. By 1994 she was General Manager of La Guardia Airport, and during the next 13 years became the only person in Port Authority history to manage all three major NY and NJ airports including Newark Liberty and Kennedy International. In 2009, Baer was made Director of Aviation, the first woman to hold that position. As Director she is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of all five of the agency’s airports: Kennedy, Newark, La Guardia, Teterboro and Stuart, which together make up the world’s busiest airport system. Baer is active in the communities surrounding the airports she oversees, serving on the boards of Vaughn College and the Newark Museum. She is also on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Future Aviation Advisory Committee and the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee. Baer has been honored by, among others, the NJ AFL-CIO; the Newark International Airport Airline Managers Association; the Newark Regional Business Partnership; Barnard College, The YWCA, and the Boy Scouts.
Henry M. Rowan (1923 – )
New Jersey Business Aviation Advocate
Hailing from Ridgewood, Henry “Hank” Rowan’s lifelong involvement with aviation began in 1943 when he enlisted as a U.S. Army Air Force Cadet with a desire to learn to fly as a U.S.A.A.F. pilot during World War II. While the war ended before he was able to fly combat missions, Rowan was checked out on six aircraft including both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Superfortress. After the war, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from M.I.T. where he graduated with honors. In the early 1950s Rowan designed and built his first induction furnace in his NJ home’s garage. He soon created Inductotherm Industries Inc. Today more than half of all induction melting systems in the world are Inductotherm furnaces, some of which are used in aerospace applications. Rowan was one of the first chief executives of a NJ company who saw the potential for business aviation. He built Inductotherm’s airport at the firm’s Rancocas headquarters. Later, when local opposition to the airport mounted, Rowan was personally able to save the facility from the threat of closure. By 1990 he was a Learjet-qualified pilot, and just two years later the company fleet had reached 10 aircraft. Rowan is perhaps best known for his 100 million dollar donation to Glassboro State College in 1992, the largest gift to a public college up to that time. In gratitude the school was renamed “Rowan University.”
Robert H. Widmer (1916 – 2011)
Famed Military Aircraft Designer
Born in Hawthorne, Widmer received his training to become an aircraft designer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Caltech. At Rensselaer he was named the best aeronautical engineer in his class after designing and building his own bi-plane as a thesis project. Widmer worked for Consolidated-Vultee (later Convair) during World War II and helped refine the airfoil for the most produced military aircraft in U.S. history, the legendary B-24 Liberator. After the war he went on to play a pivotal role in the design of the largest American Bomber ever flown, the eight-engined B-36 Peacemaker. Perhaps his greatest creation was the Convair B-58 Hustler, our nation’s first supersonic bomber, an aircraft capable of reaching twice the speed of sound and an altitude of over 75,000 feet. As Widmer’s career progressed, he was responsible for the design of the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Tomahawk cruise missile. Later, working for Lockheed and its corporate successor, Lockheed-Martin, he was instrumental in creating a number of still highly classified aircraft designs. During this period he was one of the few civilians working for national defense contractors who received federal protection for both he and his family. Among many honors Widmer earned during his over fifty year career were the Spirit of St. Louis Medal, the Reed Aeronautics Award, and induction into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame.