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NAHF’s 2020 Spirit of Flight Award Goes to the American Rocketry Challenge

The Board of Trustees of the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) is pleased to announce that its coveted 2020 Spirit of Flight Award will be presented to the American Rocketry Challenge. While the date and time of the presentation is yet to be determined, the NAHF is eager to share this wonderful news about one of the most impactful science, technology, engineering, and math (STEAM) programs in the world.

The American Rocketry Challenge is the world’s largest rocket contest, with nearly 5,000 students nationwide competing annually. The contest provides students in 6th – 12th grades the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets and gain hands-on experience solving engineering problems. Each year the top teams meet for the National Finals at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia for an all-day event.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the National Association of Rocketry, and more than twenty aerospace industry partners, including NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Defense, the challenge is the aerospace industry’s flagship program designed to encourage students to study STEM.

The Spirit of Flight Award qualifications include organizations that serve a special need of the nation and set high standards for excellence in the utilization of aerospace assets.   One of the most applicable of the criteria met by the American Rocketry Challenge is the “creativity” that voters of the Spirit of Flight Award are charged to identify.

NAHF President and CEO, Amy Spowart shares, “The American Rocketry Challenge definitely sets a high standard for STEM education in this nation and that made it an easy choice for the Spirit of Flight voters.” Spowart adds, “The past awardees and the challenging criteria for this award put it among the most sought after in aerospace.  The American Rocketry Challenge’s worthiness comes by way of its multifaceted benefits to aviation; from offering hands-on STEAM principles to students in 6th to 12th grade and encouraging them to consider and pursue careers in aerospace.  It’s a win-win for our industry.”

“The Spirit of Flight award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor,” said AIA President & CEO Eric Fanning. “Hosting the American Rocketry Challenge is a privilege for AIA, and this award recognizes our continued commitment to growing the next generation of aerospace and defense leaders. Year after year, we are inspired by the ingenuity and brilliance of our young rocketeers, and we cannot wait to see how they shape our future.”

Past winners of the Spirit of Flight range from historical groups like the WWII era “Flying Tigers”, to aerospace icons like the Apollo Missions, to industry leaders such as the Boeing Company.  A complete list can be seen at