John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks on Presenting the Harmon Trophies.

October 18, 1962

I WANT to express my very warm welcome to all those who are the winners of this year's awards; also those who were previous winners, as well as the young boys and girls who are here today and who represent our great hopes. I want to especially express our great admiration for the work which was done in 1961

Miss Cochran, who, as was stated, has won this trophy six times, which is an extraordinary record, and as was stated, I'm the fourth President to present her with an award, and I'm sure that my successors will be fulfilling the same happy function in other years. So we're delighted to have you here.

Then we want to congratulate the distinguished pilot who, following Colonel Lindbergh's route, traveled it in one-tenth the time, and in the short space of 35 years we have so cut down time and space, and the world is becoming so small, so intimate, that we hope friendship will result from it.

Then we want to congratulate those who went so high as well as those who went so fast. The feat of taking this balloon to over 110,000 feet, of winning these great honors for our country, we want to congratulate those who accomplished that.

We're particularly glad to have Mrs. Prather here again. It was my pleasure to present her with the Distinguished Flying Cross for her husband, and I'm sure she knows how proud we are of her and her family. We're glad to have the mother of her late husband here also, and the children who have come, who're bound to be outstanding.

So we're glad to have all of you here. This the Presidents award is the outstanding award of its kind in our country. I'm sure that all my predecessors took the same satisfaction out of presenting it that I do. We have some of the previous winners. Colonel Lindbergh is one of these, Bernt Balchen, Major de Seversky, Mr. Sikorsky, and others. And all those who travel this great ocean of space have our admiration.

Note: The ceremony was held at 9:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The winners of the awards were: Lt. Col. William R. Payne "for piloting a B-58 bomber to two international supersonic speed records"; Jacqueline Cochran "for establishing eight world class records with a T-38 supersonic jet, and for flying an F-104 jet fighter twice the speed of sound"; and Comdr. Malcolm D. Ross and Lt. Comdr. Victor A. Prather, Jr. For "attaining an altitude of 113,739.8 feet in a balloon flight over the Gulf of Mexico, being the highest altitude ever attained by a manned balloon." Mrs. Prather accepted the award honoring her husband who drowned while being picked up by helicopter upon completion of the flight.

The citations were read by William E. Schramek, a member of the board of trustees of the Harmon International Trophies.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks on Presenting the Harmon Trophies. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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