Dec 13, 2018
Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton, chair of the NBAA Board of Directors, was born to a family of struggling farmers in Ridgeland, SC. It was during high school one of his teachers said he should think about going college, something he hadn’t considered before, and the rest is history.
“When I look back, I couldn’t have imagined being able to fly airplanes. I was already in college before I had my first flight, but from there, it took root and my whole life completely changed from that moment until now,” Newton told a group of about 70 Washington, DC-area students at an event sponsored by the Aero Club Foundation of Washington DC and held Dec. 12 at Ronald Regan Washington National Airport.
On Dec. 14, Newton will receive the 2018 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, one of America’s most prestigious aviation awards. Newton will accept the award during the Aero Club of Washington’s Wright Memorial Dinner.
Awarded annually by the National Aeronautic Association, America’s oldest national aviation organization, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy honors a living American for “significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” Newton is being recognized for “his extraordinary achievements as a history-making, African American military aviator and his continuing contributions to the advancement of aviation education and advocacy.”
In talking to the students about his distinguished aviation career, he noted that “aviation practically touches everybody’s lives around the world in one way or another.” Newton advised students to work with their teachers and advisors to help create a path for themselves in aviation, or other STEM fields of study.
Classes in sciences, technology, engineering and math open the door to a host of careers, he emphasized.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is not about where you are, it is all about where you want to go, and I encourage you to think about those big dreams that you have, about what you would like to do, what inspires you to get things done,’ Newton said. “You are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. I advise you to think strongly about that so you can be prepared when that time comes.”
Newton also took questions from the students on topics ranging from his military career, to how difficult is it to learn to fly, to who his role models were growing up. Following the talk with Newton, the students had a chance to tour the airport.
“He’s got my kids thinking,” McKinley Technology High School teacher Christopher Grimm said following Newton’s talk. “It’s a cool world to see. It’s just not the plane flying, It’s all the things that go on behind the scenes. I want to get the kids to understand the sky’s the limit.”