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General

Meridian Honors New Jersey Aviators into Hall of Fame

On Monday, October 1, 2019, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey held its 46th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. This tribute dinner honors local aviation pioneers and subsidizes the Hall of Fame and Museum, on Fred Wehran Drive in Teterboro, NJ. It is one of the museum’s biggest fund-raising events of the year.

Founded in 1972, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey preserves the Garden State’s distinguished, two-century aviation and space heritage. Men and women, whose outstanding aeronautical achievements have brought worldwide recognition to the state, are inducted into the Hall of Fame every year.

Meridian is a proud supporter of the museum and attends the Hall of Fame induction dinner every year. Ken Forester, Sr., who founded Meridian with Bob Hewitt back in 1946, was inducted in 2008. This year, the company filled a table of 10 with representatives from different departments, including the FBO, Charter, and Maintenance. The colleagues were there to support the inductees on their big night, and to enjoy an evening with their Teterboro Airport neighbors.

This event recognized four individuals, connected to New Jersey, who have each contributed to advancing human flight. You can read their bios below.

Congratulations to all of the 2019 Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees!

Charles “Chuck” Howard – Decorated Vietnam Army Helicopter combat, dual rated instructor and test pilot, 25 years of service to the Port Authority of NY/NJ, having retired as Chief Pilot of the helicopter unit with more than 19,000 flight hours. Enlisted PA, NY & NJ in the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Developed Regional Hospital Helipad Directory which was used as a national standard. Regional advisor for new hospital helipad planning. Developed helicopter paths for FAA charts. Developed in-flight training program for FAA Air Traffic Controllers. Coordinated multi-state 9/11 helicopter response. Served as Marine One Presidential Helicopter Unit Advisor. Interacted with CIA, FBI, DEA, FAA, NASA, Secret Service and others impacting multiple areas of operations. Transported many heads of state, high level political, military and cabinet staff members. NJAHOF Trustee and Wings & Wheels Co-Chair for several years.

Stephen Pope – A New Jersey resident his entire life, Steve began as an “airport kid,” attaining his pilot ratings at the minimum age and working as a refueler/line boy at airports, including Teterboro, while he was still a teenager. After a successful career at Aviation International News, a Midland Park, New Jersey based aviation publication, Steve joined the staff of Flying Magazine. His hard work and talent resulted in Steve being promoted to Editor-in-chief where he directly supervised the magazine’s staff of full time employees plus numerous freelance writers and photographers. Steve is also very dedicated to the aviation community as a whole: he is a trustee at the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, a Selection Committee Member for the Harrison Ford Legacy in Aviation Award, as well as a past Chairman of Aviation Expo. Steve has one seven Aerospace Journalist of the Year category awards and was named overall Aerospace Journalist of the Year in 2007 when the award was presented at the Paris Air Show. Steve has won the NBAA Gold Wing Journalism Award three times. He is also a Trustee for the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey.

Webster Todd – Lives in Oldwick, he learned to fly at Somerset in 1959. Constructed Princeton Airport 1965. Former President of Princeton Airways, was Special Assistant to Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and then Deputy Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon, Chairman of the National Transportation Board (NTSB) 1977-78, Vice-President Public Affairs for ITR Airlines (d/b/a Frontier Commuter), Senior Vice President – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Has been a pilot for 60 years. Ratings include Certificated Flight Instructor CFII/MEI/SES. Sister is Christine Todd Whitman, former NJ Governor. In addition to spending his entire career in the advancement of aviation and aviation safety, Webster has also been a visiting professor of Aviation at New Jersey universities as well as Ohio State University.

Peter Zaccagnino – Born in New Brunswick, NJ, earned his Undergraduate Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. One of his projects was restoring eight airplanes and building three others. He has flown over 23,000 hours in 260+ aircraft types, including one of his pigets, and tested over 670 aircraft, including 32 prototypes. Pete’s company manages corporate jets. 18 years of racing a Reno have included the finish line win, 2015 Jet Gold Champion, the 2013 Jet Gold Champion at 509 mph, and the fastest qualifying lap at 529 mph. In 2007, he became the Gold Champion in the Sport Class. He is also the owner of High-Performance Aircraft Group, performing flight test services for several manufacturers. Latest endeavors include aviation filming/production. He has produced and been involved with multiple Discovery Channel and Smithsonian Channel pieces and documentaries. Pete is also a retired professor of aerodynamics, meteorology and aviation history. Peter has also been for many years leading humanitarian efforts for our wounded warriors and spearheading flying doctors to provide medical care to Guatemalan orphanages, the Amazon, as well as remote portions of Peru.

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General

Meridian Honors New Jersey Aviators into Hall of Fame

Meridian shows its support for the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame at the 44th Annual Induction Dinner. The ceremony was held on November 1, 2017 at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ.
Meridian shows its support for the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame at the 44th Annual Induction Dinner. The ceremony was held on November 1, 2017 at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ.

Wood-Ridge, NJ – On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey held its 44th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. This tribute dinner honors local aviation pioneers and financially supports the hall of fame and museum, located on Fred Wehran Drive in Teterboro, NJ. It is one of the museum’s biggest fund raising events of the year.
Founded in 1972, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey is dedicated to the preservation of the Garden State’s distinguished, two-century aviation and space heritage. Men and women whose outstanding aeronautical achievements have brought worldwide recognition to the state are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Meridian is a proud supporter of the museum, and representatives of the company enjoy attending the induction dinner every year. Ken Forester, Sr., who founded Meridian with Bob Hewitt back in 1946, was himself inducted into the hall of fame in 2008. His son and Meridian CEO, Ken Forester, Jr., was among those who attended the ceremony for the company.
This event recognized four individuals who are connected to New Jersey and who have each uniquely contributed to the advancement of human flight.
The 2017 NJ Hall of Fame Inductees were:
General Michael L. Cunniff (1957 –      )
A longtime resident of Belle Mead, NJ, General Cunniff is the Adjutant General of New Jersey. Cunniff commands more than 9,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard. He directs controls and manages the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in the execution of federal and state missions.
In addition, he manages all state veterans’ programs, commissions and facilities in New Jersey. His previous commands included the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and the 150th Air Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 405th Air Expeditionary Wing, Thumrait Air Base, Oman.
Cunniff entered the United States Air Force in July 1982, and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science in October 1983. He received his pilot’s wings at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, in 1983. He has served in many operations including Operations Northern Watch, Joint Forge, Allied Force, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
In the area of education, Cunniff graduated in 1981 from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering. He also completed the 1996 Operational Risk Management Course at Andrews Air Force Base, MD. He is a graduate of the 2002 Air War College, by correspondence.
During his long career, he has earned an amazing 29 awards and decorations from both the United States military and the State of New Jersey. Cunniff is rated as a Command Pilot and has over 6,000 military flight hours, including 336 of them in combat situations. He is checked out on 9 aircraft types including the F-4D/E, C-17, and several models of the KC-135.
Thomas S. Marotta (1943 –      )
A longtime resident of Bloomfield, in 1967 Marotta joined Marotta Controls Inc., the family business founded by his father and 1995 NJAHOF inductee, Patrick T. Marotta. As he took the helm, the younger Marotta continued the momentum begun by his father’s work on rocket engines for the U.S. Air Force and later NASA, which spanned the X-1 through the Apollo Programs.
Under his leadership the company gained recognition as a world class engineering and manufacturing center for precision control systems supporting the aerospace and defense industries. Marotta led the company’s involvement in many historic programs from the earliest days of human spaceflight to innovations in today’s “New Space” industry. He also guided the company’s growth and development of new weapons technologies and electronic controllers that improve the effectiveness of our warfighters and enhance the safety of our nation.
Active in community affairs, Marotta is a leader of many local organizations. Since 1985 he has served as a trustee for Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. He has also been a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Governors for the Aerospace Industries Association.
Marotta served on active duty with the 108th TAC Fighter Group, NJ Air National Guard at McGuire Air Force Base, and has remained an active pilot with commercial, multi-engine and instrument ratings. In his near half century of flying he has logged over 3,600 hours as Pilot in Command.
Currently Tom Marotta is Chairman Emeritus and Advisor to the President and CEO of Marotta Controls, his son Patrick A. Marotta. His sons Tommy and Michael have also joined the company, and his daughter holds a directorial role.
David J. Morris (1930 – 2010)
Born in Weehawken, Dave Morris grew up in Union City, NJ. He began working for the then Port of New York Authority in 1948 at the age of 18 as a courier, retiring in 1996 as Chief of Aeronautical Operations at Newark International Airport for the Port Authority of NY & NJ – totaling 48 years of service. During his tenure he received numerous awards and commendations reflecting the many positions he held and the caliber of service he rendered in each.
His passion for aviation history in general, and the history of Newark Airport in particular, was well-known. His collection of historical documents and photos concerning the airport was unparalleled and now resides at the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of NJ.
Morris was also known for his love of both Newark International and its people. In his near half-century of service he became a beloved figure there, embodying the spirit of the largest and busiest airport in the Garden State. One example of his personal concern for all who worked at Newark International was his initiative to write and produce a safety film — 13,000 and You — which welcomed every new employee starting at any of the numerous companies there. In addition, Morris strove to extend his passion for aviation to friends and family and led the planning of the annual Newark Airport Family Day.
During his years in airport operations, he had the opportunity to greet several VIPs and celebrities passing through Newark. Of these, the two he was perhaps most proud of assisting were Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.
Morris was a graduate of Saint Peters College and also a veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserves.
Captain Lynn O’Donnell (1947 –      )
A New Jersey resident, Captain O’Donnell began in aviation learning to skydive and participating in formation jumps beginning in the early 1970’s.
While working as an analyst at Piper Aircraft Corporation, she began flight training. Within two years, she earned certificates including Commercial, Multi-engine, Instrument, and Flight Instructor. To build hours, she ferried light aircraft to new owners across the Atlantic. Eventually 52 of these solo Flights were completed (including 33 in single-engine equipment). Desiring to become an airline pilot during a time when this was a difficult endeavor for women, she began flying for charter and commuter carriers. Later she became jet-qualified and flew for two air-cargo companies. From there she attained to flying passengers for three major U.S. airlines: Eastern, Pan Am, and finally United. Upon retirement from United in 2008 she was type-rated on the Boeing 747-400, 757/767 and 777.
In retirement, Captain O’Donnell endeavored to be an aviation educator and continues to serve the aviation community. Her management of the scholarship program of the North Jersey 99’s, a women’s pilot organization, saw a 67% increase in awards. Involvement with the 99’s also led to a major role in redesigning the NJAHOF museum’s “Women in Aviation” exhibit. Today she instructs, is an officer in the International Stinson Club, and flies for the EAA’s Young Eagles initiative.
Throughout her career, Captain O’Donnell’s fascination with sky diving continued. In recent years she’s earned multiple world records in the sport. This included being part of a formation jump with 120 participants. In 2012, she participated in a record setting jump involving 60 participants, all over 60, who only joined together after a 90-second freefall!

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General Uncategorized

Meridian Honors New Jersey Aviators into Hall of Fame

Meridian shows its support for the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame at the 43rd Annual Induction Dinner.  The ceremony was held on September 27, 2016 at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ.
Meridian shows its support for the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame at the 43rd Annual Induction Dinner. The ceremony was held on September 27, 2016 at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ.

Wood-Ridge, NJ – On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey held its 43rd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. This tribute dinner honors local aviation pioneers and financially supports the hall of fame and museum, located on Fred Wehran Drive in Teterboro, NJ. It is one of the museum’s biggest fund raising events of the year.
Founded in 1972, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey is dedicated to the preservation of the Garden State’s distinguished, two-century aviation and space heritage. Men and women whose outstanding aeronautical achievements have brought worldwide recognition to the state are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Meridian is a proud supporter of the museum, and representatives of the company enjoy attending the induction dinner every year. Ken Forester, Sr., who founded Meridian with Bob Hewitt back in 1946, was himself inducted into the hall of fame in 2008. His son and Meridian CEO, Ken Forester, Jr., was among those who attended the ceremony for the company.
This event recognized three individuals who are connected to New Jersey and who have each uniquely contributed to the advancement of human flight.
The 2016 NJ Hall of Fame Inductees were:
Robert J. Cenker (1948 –       )
Born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania Mr. Cenker has lived in East Windsor for the last 40 years. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers. He is an Associate Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, belongs to the Association of Space Explorers, and is a registered Professional Engineer. He is also a member of the engineering honorary society, Tau Beta Pi, and the aerospace engineering society Sigma Gamma Tau.
After receiving his MS from Penn State in 1973, Cenker was employed at RCA’s Astro Electronics Division in East Windsor. There he worked on the new field of commercial communications satellites, returned to college at Rutgers for his MS in Electrical Engineering, and became a manager in 1980. He held management positions overseeing the design of several satellites, the last being the Satcom Ku program, for which he was the Manager of Systems Engineering.
It was from this position that Cenker was selected by RCA and NASA to fly as an astronaut on the space shuttle Columbia for the launch/deployment of the Satcom Ku1 spacecraft on Space Shuttle Mission 61-C in 1986. During this flight, Mr. Cenker traveled over 2 million miles in 96 orbits and spent 146 hours in space. Cenker left RCA in 1990 and has since been consulting with various firms in the areas of spacecraft design, assembly, flight operations, and micro-gravity research.
Janine K. Iannarelli (1961 –       )
Born in Fair Lawn, Iannarelli graduated from Montclair State University in 1983 earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a major in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. Iannarelli joined Amstat Corporation in 1983 as an Account Executive/Market Researcher operating exclusively in the business aviation industry. In 1984, she joined Aerosmith/Penny, Inc., an international business aircraft dealer specializing corporate jet sales, where she became Vice President of Sales & Marketing. In 1997, Iannarelli founded Par Avion Ltd., an international jet brokerage and consultancy firm based in Houston with an office in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
With over 30 years of experience, Iannarelli is considered a pioneer among women in business aviation. She is a highly-regarded “industry icon” and business aviation advocate. Her extensive experience selling Dassault jets has earned her the nickname “The Falcon Lady.” The Fort Worth Business Press named Iannarelli a “Great Woman of Texas” in 2011. She appeared on the cover of the November/December 2013 issue of Aviation for Women Magazine. Iannarelli was named among four finalists for the 2015 Texas Business Woman of the Year Award by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and a 2016 Woman on the Move by Texas Executive Women.
In 2014, Iannarelli was appointed to the Governor of Texas’s Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee and named presiding officer in 2016. She is a member of and volunteer with European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and Women in Aviation, International. She supports charities that benefit children and animals. As a sought-after speaker and mentor to youth and women’s organizations, she often shares insights on career development, entrepreneurship, and perseverance.
William McE. Miller, Jr. (1926 –       )
A longtime resident of Princeton, Miller was born in Iran to missionary parents. His abiding passion for aviation began early in childhood. At 18 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became a Naval Aviator during the immediate post-war period. Miller flew Grumman F-4U Corsair fighters off the carrier U.S.S. Kearsarge and from the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, PA.
After earning a Masters at Princeton Theological Seminary he was employed in international Christian missions’ work, as well as projects involving Australian Aboriginal art until 1967 when he was asked to lead a start-up aviation technology company named Aereon. Aereon was well-known in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s for its efforts to develop a commercially viable “Aerobody,” a trail-blazing, cargo-carrying hybrid of the rigid airship and the airplane. In 1973 a book by New Yorker magazine writer John McPhee, “The Deltoid Pumpkinseed,” popularized the company’s efforts to test small-scale models of the aerobody and put it into series production as the “DYNAIRSHIP.”
While under Miller’s multi-decade leadership, Aereon successfully pursued Project Tiger, the construction and flight testing of a piloted prototype aerobody, the Aereon 26. The company also developed the WASP (Wide Aperture Surveillance Platform), and conducted DynASTOL contract research on a military version of the aerobody for the defense department. In the 21st century, several large defense contractors announced aerobody projects of their own thus vindicating Miller’s long time dedication to the concept.
One of his alma maters, McCallie School, gave Miller its 50 years Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

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Aircraft Management Detailing Executive Terminal (FBO) General Maintenance Private Air Charter

Meridian Honors New Jersey Aviators into Hall of Fame

The Meridian table at the NJ Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. (Standing left to right): Chris Battaglia, Anthony Banome, Emil Iannone, Kirk Stephen, and Mike Moore. (Seated left to right): John Langschultz, Ken Forester Sr., Ken Forester Jr., Susan Forester, and Dennis O'Connell.
The Meridian table at the NJ Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. (Standing left to right): Chris Battaglia, Anthony Banome, Emil Iannone, Kirk Stephen, and Mike Moore. (Seated left to right): John Langschultz, Ken Forester Sr., Ken Forester Jr., Susan Forester, and Dennis O’Connell.

Wood-Ridge, NJ – On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey held its 43rd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ. This tribute dinner honors local aviation pioneers and financially supports the hall of fame and museum, located on Fred Wehran Drive in Teterboro, NJ. It is one of the museum’s biggest fund raising events of the year.
Founded in 1972, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey is dedicated to the preservation of the Garden State’s distinguished, two-century aviation and space heritage. Men and women whose outstanding aeronautical achievements have brought worldwide recognition to the state are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Meridian is a proud supporter of the museum, and representatives of the company enjoy attending the induction dinner every year. Ken Forester, Sr., who founded Meridian with Bob Hewitt back in 1946, was himself inducted into the hall of fame in 2008. He was among those who attended on Tuesday evening.
This event recognized three individuals who are connected to New Jersey and who have each uniquely contributed to the advancement of human flight.
The 2015 NJ Hall of Fame Inductees were:
Capt. Janis K. Blackburn (Born 1948)
A longtime resident of Belmar, Blackburn began her flying career as a flight instructor and charter pilot. Her true goal was to work for the scheduled carriers. The time was the late 1960s and the major airlines were, by and large, not accepting applications from women for cockpit positions. Blackburn persisted in spite of repeated rejections and was finally hired by Princeton Airlines, a small NJ carrier. This was the beginning of a long and successful career with Summit Airlines, Sun Country, Eastern, Kiwi, and Spirit (from which she retired in 2013.) At virtually every carrier Blackburn was the first female in her position including becoming the first women to crew the A-300 in America and the first female captain at Kiwi. After flying her last trip with Spirit she began working as a consultant with the FAA Technical Center in Atlantic City, a position she holds today.
Throughout this period Blackburn served the aviation community in a myriad of other ways. Among the organizations that she contributed to, usually in leadership roles were the Ninety-Nines women’s flight organization, the Civil Air Patrol, the New Jersey Aviation Education Council, the Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association, the Air Line Pilots Association and the FAA Safety Counselor Program. She even travelled to Africa to participate in missions work in Kenya. Always interested in youth aviation education, Blackburn recently became an author with the publishing of her first children’s book, Teddy, The Airplane.
Still an active flight instructor with the Monmouth Area Flying Club Blackburn has logged over 22,000 piloting hours during her lifetime.
Henry M. Holden (Born 1939)
Making his home in Randolph, Holden is a prolific aviation historian and author. In 1994, Mr. Holden was honored in the United States Congressional Record for his work in recording the history of American women in aviation. He was the recipient of the Author’s Award from the New Jersey Institute of Technology for his book Her Mentor Was An Albatross – The Autobiography of Pioneer Pilot Harriet Quimby. In 1996 Holden launched the Women in Aviation Resource Center, an online repository of educational, historical, and networking resources for women interested in all aspects of aviation. In 2010 He was given the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of NJ’s Distinguished Service Award.
Holden is the author of over 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles appearing in national publications. Holden has also published 43 books, and is the founder of the DC-3/Dakota Association. His two volume history of the DC-3 is considered to be the definitive work on this legendary aircraft. Holden is a member of Women in Aviation International, AOPA, and EAA. He speaks at aviation events cross the country as a guest lecturer. His work has been the subject of a number of radio and television programs including one on the History Channel. Henry is a former News Editor East for Airport Journals and had been a monthly contributor.
A selection of aviation magazines that he has written for, includes: Private Pilot, Plane & Pilot, Airport Journals, Skylight, World Airnews, InFlight-USA, American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Women in Aviation, Woman Pilot, Airport Press, Aviation History, Vintage Airplane, Warbirds, and Sport Aviation Magazine.
General James E. Young (Born 1920)
Raised in Passaic and Nutley; Young joined the U.S. Army Air Force in January 1942, about a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Upon earning his wings he was initially assigned to flying B-24s and B-25s on 43 anti-submarine patrols off the East Coast. In January 1944 Young was re-assigned to Italy where he flew both B-24s and B-17s on combat missions that included four raids on the Ploesti Oil Fields. In June of that year Young was transferred to England where he went on to complete 34 more missions on B-17s, some of which involved supporting the D-Day invasion. During this time he was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
Upon release from active service at war’s end Young joined the NJ Air National Guard. He was recalled to active duty during both the Korean War and the Berlin Crisis in 1961-62. After returning to New Jersey he was promoted, in 1967, to Commander of the ANG 170th Military Airlift Group at McGuire AFB. He remained its Commander in 1977 when it became the 170th Air Refueling Group after transitioning from transport aircraft to KC-135 Jet Strato-Tankers. In 1979 Young was promoted to Brigadier General and became Assistant Adjutant General for Air, NJ Department of Defense. He retired from this position in 1980 after 39 years of service and 11,000 flying hours on 15 aircraft types.
During Young’s Air Force and Air National Guard career he was awarded a total of 18 medals and commendations.

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General

Meridian Congratulates NJAHOF Inductees

Meridian is well-represented at the NJAHOF Inductee Dinner held at the Fiesta Ballroom in Wood-Ridge, NJ.
From left to right: John Langschultz, Susan Forester, Ken Forester, Jr., Ken Forester, Sr., Dan Govatos, Sheila Carson, Mike Moore, Per Karlsson, Kirk Stephen

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.