Keynote Speakers

Sherry Avery, Los Angeles District Manager, ATC

Sherry Avery graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude. She started working for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 33 years ago as an air traffic controller. Prior to assuming her current position of Manager of the Los Angeles Tower District, she managed many other air traffic control facilities; she is now responsible for nine towers.

In March 1999, she was a panelist at the Women in Aviation conference in Orlando. In October 2001, she was an honoree at the Women at Work Organization.

Sherry has appeared on CNN, the Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, and Fit TV. She has been on National Public Radio and been featured in two magazines. In addition, she is a regular speaker for new supervisor and manager classes at the FAA's management training facility.

She has her private pilot certificate; real estate broker license, and loan broker license. She is divorced and has two sons, Steve and Joel, who attend USC.

Rear Admiral Robin R. Braun, Deputy Commander, Navy Recruiting Command

Rear Admiral Robin R. Braun, daughter of a career Naval Aviator, is a native of Pensacola, Florida. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, she was commissioned in March 1980 and was designated a Naval Aviator in February 1981.

Rear Admiral Braun's first assignment was to Training Squadron (VT-31), Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, where she served as an Instructor Pilot and Selectively Retained Graduate (SERGRAD) in the T-44 aircraft. In 1983, Rear Admiral Braun reported to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3 (VQ-3) (TACAMO) at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. She served as a Mission Commander and Aircraft Commander in the EC-130Q aircraft, providing an airborne communications link for strategic forces throughout the Pacific theater.

In 1986, Rear Admiral Braun reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., as a Navy Intern in the Operations Directorate (J3). Subsequently, she was assigned to the Navy Personnel Command as the Aviation Initial Assignments Detailer and Chairman of the Aviation Warfare Transition Board.

Rear Admiral Braun's first Reserve Component assignment was with Naval Reserve NAS Keflavik at Naval Air Facility Washington. From 1989 through 1994, she served with VR-61 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR-51) at NAS Glenview, Ill., flying worldwide missions in the DC-9 and C-9B aircraft. Upon closure of NAS Glenview, she transferred to VR-48 at NAF Washington, serving as one of the Navy's first C-20G Aircraft Commanders and Instructor Pilots. Following assignment as Maintenance Officer and Executive Officer, she became Commanding Officer of VR-48 in 1998. During her tour, the squadron was awarded the Battle "E" and CNO Safety Award.

Recalled to active duty in July 2006, Rear Admiral Braun currently serves as Commanding Officer, Navy Air Logistics Office, New Orleans.

Rear Admiral Braun has accumulated more than 5,800 flight hours in Navy aircraft. Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards). Rear Admiral Braun has been employed as a commercial pilot for Federal Express since 1996.

Julie Clark, Aerobatic Air Show Pilot

There was never a doubt that Julie Clark was born to fly. "While most 8-year-old girls were playing with dolls," explained Julie, "I was building models of airplanes and reading all I could about flying." In 1964, while Julie's father, Captain Clark was en route from Nevada to Oakland, a passenger entered the unlocked cockpit with a gun and killed both pilots. The airplane went down, killing all on board. "That incident," Julie explained, "brought about the law requiring cockpit doors to remain locked during commercial flights and is named for Clark."

In 1967, she spent her college book money on flying lessons. After college, years of working two and three jobs and taking virtually any flying job to build time and higher ratings, Clark was hired to fly for Golden West Airlines, a West Coast commuter airline. In 1977 she was hired by Hughes Airwest (formerly Pacific Airlines), which became Republic Airlines and is now Northwest Airlines. Clark retired as a captain with Northwest Airlines.

Clark bought her Beechcraft T-34 in 1977, "sight unseen" at a government surplus auction, in Anchorage, Alaska. She flew the airplane, dubbed Free Spirit, 2900 miles to her home in California. Julie personally and painstakingly restored her aluminium airplane, hand polishing inside and out. Beginning with her creative version of the "Air Force One" paint scheme, the aircraft constantly requires upgrading and modification. The CHEVRON MENTOR T-34 proudly sports a Golden Eagle Series 285 hp custom engine built by Eagle Engines of Redding, California, which is coupled to a Hartzell three-bladed prop by Eagle Engines' sister company, American Propeller, also of Redding.

Julie Clark has logged more than 29,000 accident-free hours in the air and is rated in more than 66 types of aircraft in nearly 30 years as an aerobatic air show pilot. In 2002 Clark was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame. In 2006 she was honoured by Airport Journals as one of the Top 40 "Living Legends in Aviation." In 2007 she was named "Woman of the Year" by Senate District 1, by the California Senate.

Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation

Dr. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which awarded the $10,000,000 Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight and is now implementing prizes in a variety of different arenas. Diamandis also serves as the CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight utilize Boeing 727-200 aircraft. He is the Chairman & Co-Founder of the Rocket Racing League. Diamandis is a co-founder of Space Adventures Ltd, the company that brokered the flight of four private citizens to the International Space Station.

In 1987, Diamandis co-Founded the International Space University (ISU) where he served as the University's first managing director. Today he serves as a Trustee of the $30M ISU that is based in Strasbourg, France. Prior to ISU, Diamandis served as Chairman of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) an organization he founded at MIT in 1980. SEDS is the world's largest student pro space organization.

Dr. Diamandis attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he received his undergraduate degree in molecular genetics and graduate degree in aerospace engineering. After MIT he attended Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D. In 2005 he has was also awarded an honorary Doctorate from the International Space University.

He is the winner of the 2006 (inaugural) Heinlein Award, the 2006 Lindbergh Award, the 2006 Wired RAVE Award, the 2006 Neil Armstrong Award for Aerospace Achievement and Leadership, the Konstantine Tsiolkovsky Award, twice the winner of the Aviation & Space Technology Laurel, and the 2003 World Technology Award for Space. In 8th grade, while living in New York, Dr. Diamandis won first place in the Estes rocket design contest.

Diamandis' mission is to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!"

John and Martha King, Cofounders, King Schools

After a dismal failure in a business for which they did not have a passion, John and Martha King decided to relax and indulge their love of flying for a while. In the early 1970s, they began teaching flying to mark time while looking for a "serious business."

Originally the Kings launched their flying business out of a spare bedroom in their house. Today their company, King Schools, Inc., operates out of a dedicated complex in San Diego, California that includes a television and software production facility. In more than 30 years, King Schools has delivered many millions of videotapes, CD-ROMs and DVDs to pilots in training. In addition to running King Schools, John and Martha share the limelight as talent in the company's courses and television productions. They are champions for the cause of improving the risk management practices of general aviation pilots and they speak to thousands of pilots each year on aviation safety. They work with the FAA's National Aviation Safety Program in producing safety videos. They also volunteer their time to speak to college classes on starting a small business. Both Kings were named "Aviation Educators of the Year" by Professional Pilot Magazine in 1996. In 2001 Martha was appointed by President Clinton to the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board to help promote celebrations of the 100th anniversary of flight. In 2002 the Kings were recognized for their contributions to aviation by being inducted into the International Forest of Friendship in the hometown of Amelia Earhart, Atchison, Kansas. At Kitty Hawk on December 16, 2003, Martha was honored along with 99 others by the First Flight Centennial Commission as one of the 100 Distinguished Aviation Heroes in the first century of flight. Martha was also named one of the "100 Most Influential Women in Aviation" by Women in Aviation International. John received the 2004 "Excellence in Pilot Training" award from the National Air Transportation Association. In 2005 Martha King was awarded the prestigious Cliff Henderson Award for Achievement from the National Aeronautic Association.

Deborah Limb, Director of Payloads & Structures Engineering, Boeing

Deborah Limb has been the director of Payloads & Structures Engineering since February 2007. Limb is responsible for a team of 3,650 employees who provide structures and payloads engineering capability for all commercial airplane programs. This capability includes loads and dynamics analysis, payloads and structural engineering and analysis, and support to safety and airworthiness investigations. Prior to this assignment, Limb led the international team responsible for the design, build and support of the 787 fuselage including its interior components.

Limb served as director of Fleet Support for Service Engineering before joining the 787 program. In 1998, Limb accepted an appointment as director of Customer Quality for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). She worked across the production programs at Boeing to represent customer input on quality issues and expectations. She received additional responsibilities serving as both the director of Customer Quality for BCA and director of Quality for the newly formed Commercial Aviation Systems organization. Earlier Limb led the technical support teams for the 767 and 777 in-service fleets. These positions provided Limb the opportunity to travel the world working directly with airlines on technical issues.

Limb joined Boeing in 1988 as a structural stress analyst on the 747 and 767 programs. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Seattle University.

Jennifer Murray, Helicopter Pilot and World Record Holder

Jennifer Murray is U.S. born and U.K. Educated, with a degree in Textile Design from the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London, England. She began her own textile company after marrying Simon Murray and moving to Thailand in the mid-1960s. She earned her helicopter pilot certificate in 1994.

She entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1997 as the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter and in 2000 Murray achieved another world first - flying her helicopter solo around the world. In 2001 she flew the London Sydney Air Race with Colin Bodill, setting a new world speed record. In 2003 the pair attempted to set a new world record for flying around the world in a helicopter via the South and North Poles but it ended in disaster when, just two days after reaching the South Pole, but they crashed in whiteout conditions. Many might have called it a day after such an experience, but they set off again in December 2006 and landed back at Fort Worth, Texas, on May 23, 2007, and claimed the new world record. Jennifer is 67 years old.

Rod Machado, Author & National CFI spokesman for AOPA

Rod Machado traded his motorcycle for flying lessons at the age of 16. His parents were delighted he gave up riding with the vegetarian motorcycle gang known as the sprouts. Today Machado is a professional speaker who travels across the United States and Europe delighting his listeners with upbeat and lively presentations. Machado truly loves mixing it up with the audience. His unusual talent for simplifying the difficult and adding humor to make the lessons stick has made him a popular lecturer both in and out of aviation.

Flying since 1970 and instructing since 1973, Rod has over 8,000 hours of flight time earned the hard way-one CFI hour at a time. Since 1977 he has taught hundreds of flight instructor revalidation clinics and safety seminars and he was named the 1991 Western Region Flight Instructor of the Year. Machado holds all fixed-wing (powered) flight instructor ratings as well as an airline transport pilot certificate. He also owns an A36 Bonanza.

Machado wrote and co-anchored ABC's Wide World of Flying. He is AOPA's National CFI spokesman and a National Accident Prevention Counselor appointed by the FAA in Washington D. C. Rod is the flight instructor voice on Microsoft's Flight Simulator starting with the 2000 version and he wrote the flight lesson tutorials for the textbook that accompanies the software. He is also an instructor on Cessna's Computer-Based Private Pilot CD-ROM and the author of four books, four DVDs, a 14 CD audio album, a Private Pilot Course on 30 audio CDs and a CFI image CD. You can read his monthly column in AOPA Pilot magazine as well as in Flight Training Magazine.

Gen. (Ret.) Chuck Yeager, Aviation Legend

Brigadier General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, born February 13, 1923 in Myra, West Virginia and raised in nearby Hamlin, was blessed with keen eyesight and steady hands. Trained by his father, a gas driller, Yeager's mechanical aptitude and innate curiosity enabled him to master complex machinery at an early age. By age 12, he could completely overhaul a Chevrolet engine.

Yeager enlisted in the Army Air Corps in late 1941. By March of 1943, his tenacity, uncommon skills, resolute "finish what you start" attitude, and long hours of painstaking preparation and practice in the cockpits of various aircraft, had propelled him from airplane mechanic to fighter pilot. Flying a P-51 Mustang in the European theater of WWII, he scored his first combat victory on March 4, 1944. He was shot down over occupied France the next day. His strong survival skills and knowledge of explosives were invaluable while teaming with the French Maquis to resist German troops, evade capture and escape to neutral Spain. In the late 1940s -1950s, Chuck Yeager was in the forefront of an era that probed the most challenging frontiers of flight. Most notably, on October 14, 1947, he shattered the myth of a sound barrier that would blow apart a plane and pilot, as he became the first man to exceed the speed of sound (MACH I) in the rocket-powered Bell X-1. While flying experimental research aircraft and virtually everything in the U.S. Air Force inventory, Yeager earned legendary status in aerospace history. He was the test pilot of choice among engineers because he flew with such precision that his data points were always right on target.

Yeager was assigned as a fighter squadron commander in Europe (1954-57), and then at George AFB (1957-60). Then, he was brought back to Edwards AFB to command the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, where he trained military pilots to be astronauts. Returning to combat, he commanded a fighter wing in Vietnam, adding 127 missions to his combat record. Next, Yeager was promoted to Brigadier General and served as vice commander of the 17th Air Force in Europe, U.S. Defense Representative to Pakistan and finally, as U.S. Air Force Director of Aerospace Safety where he implemented flight regulations still in use today. Retiring from the military in 1975, he continued to serve as a consulting test pilot for the Air Force and industry until 2002. General Yeager has flown more than 340 different makes and models of military aircraft.

General Chuck Yeager and his wife, Victoria, established the General Chuck Yeager Foundation to support programs and scholarships (including Marshall University Yeager Scholars) that promote these ideals. For more information on General Chuck Yeager and the General Chuck Yeager Foundation go to