The Dee Howard Foundation will honor three pioneers whose leadership and work in the Alamo City have impacted aviation and space science worldwide.
Awards will be presented during the organization’s 2024 luncheon fundraiser, benefitting transformative aerospace programs that are connecting with hundreds of students across the community.
SAN ANTONIO, TX —- Two women on the leading edge of today's aerospace innovations, as well as a late military hero with local ties, will be honored as key examples of San Antonio's enduring role as a community where chapters in aviation history have been written and where new technologies are being pioneered as human flight — across the planet and beyond — enters its second century.
During its annual marquee fundraising event — a luncheon at the Boeing Center at Tech Port on May 3 — three honorees with enduring San Antonio ties will be recognized and inducted into the Dee Howard Foundation's Aerospace and Aviation Hall of Fame:
- Brig. Gen. David Lee "Tex" Hill — A storied and decorated military aviator first hailed as a national hero for his service during World War II as a renowned Flying Tiger. He was raised in San Antonio, where he attended the San Antonio Academy as a boy and maintained connections to the community throughout his lifetime. During his years of service he was also commander of the 412th Fighter Group (which eventually became the U.S. Air Force's first jet aircraft unit) and was the youngest one-star general in the history of the Texas Air National Guard, which he joined in 1946. Hill, who died in 2007, will posthumously receive the foundation's Aerospace Legacy Award.
- Amy Gowder — A renowned aerospace industry executive who is currently President and CEO of GE Aerospace's Defense and Systems. Previously, Gowder shepherded the ongoing modernization of what was then known as the Kelly Aviation Center, which has since become one of the largest state-of-the-art aircraft engine sustainment providers in the world. The expansive facilities in the heart of the Port San Antonio campus formerly under Gowder's purview are now operated by StandardAero and are where hundreds of personnel support a rapidly growing array of products that power military and commercial fleets around the world. She will receive the Impact Award.
- Siddhi Raut — Currently a senior at Reagan High School, Siddhi has been intently focused since middle school on pursuing an academic path and eventual career in space science. Along the way, Raut has endeavored to encourage her peers to pursue similar futures. Among her accomplishments, she was one of the first students to participate in the WEX Foundation's Lunar Caves Analog Test Sites (LCATS) program. Raut then established the nonprofit Space Tourist, which provides an information platform and resources for her peers, educators and industry professionals to connect and collaborate. While still in high school, she has also embarked on advanced research projects as an intern for the Baylor University Astrophysics and Science Theory Group. Raut will be the first recipient of the foundation's newly minted Hope for the Future Award.
"This year's honorees are a testament to the deep roots and far reach of San Antonio's aviation and aerospace talent," said Dee Howard Foundation Board Chair Tyler Schroeder. "This individual and collective accomplishments underscore San Antonio's can-do mindset and our rich history and bright future ahead as our community continues to be a global leader in developing the next generation of talent and innovation in this exciting industry."
"We're thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of this distinguished group and, importantly, to use their examples in our ongoing work to inspire, connect with and support upcoming generations of San Antonio's aerospace and aviation pioneers," said Dee Howard Foundation Executive Director Christina Martinez. "We look forward to the upcoming San Antonio Aerospace and Aviation Hall of Fame event as an important milestone bringing the community together and a significant fundraising effort as we grow our work with supporters and partners so our life-changing programs can reach even greater heights and more students in the months ahead."
Launched in 2015, the Dee Howard Foundation, named in memory of one of the community's early aerospace innovators and pioneers, honors San Antonio's longstanding aerospace legacy while preparing the region's future talent. Since its founding, it has worked hand-in-hand with donors, industry and educators to deliver an array of engaging learning experiences to approximately 2,000 students across the community.
Among them are a multi-year program in which high school students, under the close supervision of professionals, build a working aircraft (with a maiden flight by a test pilot planned in February) and a new curriculum — made possible thanks to a recent $150,000 gift from the Kelly Heritage Foundation — that is introducing over 400 students to the fundamentals of drones: building, maintaining and proper operation of the evolving technology and the many related career pathways it is creating across a number of industry sectors.
To learn more about the upcoming Aerospace and Aviation Hall of Fame and how to support the Dee Howard Foundation, visit the organization's event page.
According to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, over 6,000 people presently work in the region's aerospace and aviation sectors. Those numbers are expected to grow considerably in the years ahead, as locally-headquartered firms and marquee industry names with operations at Port San Antonio and elsewhere in the community continue to add significant new workloads. Additionally, locally-based pioneers that include Southwest Research Institute and Astroport Space Technologies are advancing major new breakthroughs in space exploration.