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SEATTLE—The Museum of Flight today announced the selection of Richard F. “Dick” Gordon, Jr. and Milton G. “Milt” Kuolt II as the 2002 recipients of the Pathfinder Award. First given in 1982, the annual award recognizes individuals with ties to the Pacific Northwest who have made signal contributions to the development of aviation or aerospace. Pathfinder Awards can be given for achievement in any of five different categories of activity: flying, engineering, manufacturing, operations or education. This year, Gordon is being recognized in the “flying” category, and Kuolt is being recognized in the “operations” category. They are the 62nd and 63rd recipients of the prestigious award.

The Pathfinder Award honorees are selected by the Museum of Flight Board of Trustees from among nominees chosen by the Museum, its partner the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and representatives of other aviation and aerospace organizations and companies throughout the Northwest. The awards will be presented at the 21st Annual Pathfinder Awards Gala, to be held on Saturday, November 2, 2002, at The Museum of Flight. The evening’s program will feature former Apollo astronaut William A. Anders and Alaska Airlines president and chief operating officer William S. Ayer speaking on recipients Gordon and Kuolt, respectively.

Richard F. “Dick” Gordon, Jr.

Born in Seattle in 1929, Gordon graduated from North Kitsap High School and the University of Washington. He earned his wings as a naval aviator in 1953 and attended Test Pilot School in 1957. He served as a test pilot until 1960, flying the F8U, F11F, FJ, A4D and F4H aircraft. In May 1961, Gordon won the prestigious Bendix Trophy by flying from Los Angeles to New York in two hours and 47 minutes. He has logged more than 4,500 hours of flying time—3,500 hours in jet aircraft.

Gordon was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1963. He piloted the three-day Gemini XI mission in September of 1966. With Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr., Gordon set a new altitude record of 850 miles, docked with the unpiloted Agena spacecraft and performed two spacewalks.

Gordon subsequently flew as command module pilot for Apollo 12. He performed photographic mapping to identify landing sites for future missions while Pete Conrad and Alan L. Bean were on the lunar surface, and he performed the docking maneuver to rejoin the two spacecraft when the lunar module ascended from the Moon.

Gordon has logged 315 hours and fifty-three minutes in space, including two hours and forty-four minutes of extra-vehicular activity. In 1971, Gordon was named chief of advanced programs for NASA’s Astronaut Office, where he conducted preliminary design and testing work for the Space Shuttle. He retired from NASA and the Navy in 1972 with the rank of captain. Gordon currently resides in Prescott, Ariz.

Milton G. “Milt” Kuolt II

The son of missionaries, Kuolt was born and raised in a small village in India. He returned to the United States in 1940 and graduated ten years later from Central Washington University in Ellensburg with an economics degree.

Kuolt worked for Boeing nineteen years, working his way up from janitor to business planning manager for the 737. Kuolt’s pathfinding contributions to Northwest aviation, however, came later.

In 1981, having established himself as a successful entrepreneur, Kuolt decided to start an airline, to be called Horizon Air. With three-dozen employees and two elderly Fairchild F-27 turboprops, Horizon began service on September 1, 1981, between Seattle and Yakima, Wash. Within a few years, Horizon grew to become one of the nation’s top half dozen regional carriers. In 1984, Kuolt took Horizon public, and in 1986, the airline was acquired by Alaska Air Group.

Kuolt’s famous philosophy that “the customer is always right . . . even when he’s wrong” led to Horizon’s consistent ranking among the most customer-friendly airlines in the country. His leadership of the company was marked by his willingness to roll up his sleeves and lead by example. It was not unusual in Horizon’s early years to find Kuolt loading bags, cleaning lavatories or taking reservations. In the words of Kuolt biographer Bill Endicott, “[his] infectious enthusiasm for the job at hand and his fierce drive for excellence inspired his people and left his competitors on the tarmac.”

Kuolt currently resides in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tickets for the 21st Annual Pathfinder Awards Gala are $65 per person. Reservations and information are available by contacting Melanie Pollak at 206-768-7162 or


The independent, non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world. The Museum’s collection includes more than 135 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the Red Barn—the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co. The Museum’s aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. More than 100,000 children are served annually by the Museum’s on-site and outreach educational programs—the most extensive museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country. The Museum of Flight is one of only 750 museums in the nation and nine in Washington state that are fully accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Note: High-resolution digital images are available on request.