Craig O’Neill

Marketing Communications Manager


SEATTLE— Five hundred guests participated in a special tribute to late aviation pioneers Bill and Moya Lear at The Museum of Flight’s Red, White and Blue Gala fund-raising event held June 29 at the Museum. Patrons also enjoyed a performance by the Brothers Four, a gourmet dinner prepared by Museum caterer McCormick & Schmick’s, and a 16-item live mini-auction. The Lear tribute was punctuated by a rare “missing man” formation fly-by performed by four Learjets, three of which were flown by Museum trustees Joe Clark, Clay Lacy and Bruce McCaw. The fourth was piloted by a representative of Bombardier Aerospace, the Canadian firm that currently manufactures the Learjet line.

The Red, White and Blue Gala raised $709,000 in support of the Museum’s youth and community education programs. “Besides gathering to celebrate the lives of innovation led by Bill and Moya Lear, our goal had been to raise $700,000,” said Museum president and CEO Ralph Bufano. “We’re delighted to have exceeded that mark thanks to the generosity of our many friends and supporters.”

In addition to local business and community leaders, the gala attendees included four astronauts: Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper, Gemini and Apollo astronaut Dick Gordon, Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan, and Space Shuttle astronaut John Fabian. Medal of Honor-winning World War II Marine Corps fighter pilot Joe Foss was also in attendance, as were famous test and airshow pilot Bob Hoover and Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh, recently returned to Washington state following his 75th anniversary re-creation of his grandfather’s famous transatlantic solo flight.

A highlight of the evening’s program was a surprise tribute to charity auctioneers Dick and Sharon Friel. Museum of Flight vice chairman Bruce McCaw and his wife, Jolene, announced the establishment of The Dick and Sharon Friel Fund at The Seattle Foundation in honor of the Friels’ dedicated volunteer work on behalf of charitable and cultural institutions in the Puget Sound region. Having conducted almost 2,000 charity auctions over three decades , the Friels have raised nearly $260 million for area schools, hospitals, foundations and museums. “There are few charitable organizations in the Seattle area that have not benefited from Dick and Sharon’s vision, passion and skill as organizers, auctioneers and fund raisers,” commented Bruce McCaw. “The Museum of Flight certainly owes a particular debt of gratitude to them, and we are delighted to be able to honor all their efforts in this forum.”

The Dick and Sharon Friel Fund has been established with an initial endowment of $250,000 thanks to donations by Joe Clark, David and Dorothy Fluke, Clay and Lois Lacy, Mike Malone, Gretchen Mathers, Scott and Laurie Oki, Herman and Faye Sarkowsky, John and Stacy Schwartz, and Kayla Skinner, as well as the McCaws. The Friels will direct the fund, which will make annual disbursements to charities of their choosing.

The Red, White and Blue Gala was the Museum’s semi-annual “off-year” special event. Last year’s 2001: Air & Space Gala Auction for Kids raised more than $2 million dollars, and planning for an event of comparable magnitude for July of 2003 is already underway. Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group president and CEO Alan Mullaly will serve as chairman of the 2003 event, the theme of which will center on the centennial of the Wright brothers’ achievement of powered flight.


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.