Washington, DC (May 18, 2017) Congressman Steve Pearce today received the Circumnavigator Diploma from the National Aeronautics Association (NAA) for completing a solo expedition around the world in a small single engine aircraft (Mooney M20M). Rep. Pearce dedicated the mission to the memory of veterans who served and sacrificed their lives for our country.
"Given the challenges of flying in my life - the challenge of overcoming fear - the desire to completely fly around the globe - I decided to embark on this journey in dedication to the memory of my friends who didn't return home from Vietnam. The flight was the physical aspect. The mission was remembering. Every time I faced an obstacle, I said, this is in memory," stated Rep. Pearce. "I'm honored to receive this special recognition from NAA, and thank my friends in general aviation, and most importantly, my wife Cynthia. I could not have accomplished this journey without their support."
NAA Director of Contest and Records, AW Greenfield, presented the Circumnavigator Diploma to Rep. Pearce:
"As America's aviation record keeper, NAA has recognized many outstanding achievements made in aviation over the years. I'm pleased to be here to congratulate Congressman Pearce on his successful circumnavigation. He made the westbound flight single pilot, with no one to help tune the avionics or walk through the checklists. What makes this flight especially significant is that Congressman Pearce did this in honor of those who flew west to fight in Vietnam, but were not lucky enough to return. His achievement is one that will be remembered for a long time."
Representatives of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) also joined Rep. Pearce today. AOPA has previously awarded Rep. Pearce for his support and preservation of general aviation. Mark Baker, AOPA President and CEO, stated:
"Rep. Steve Pearce is a strong advocate for pilots in Congress, and we congratulate him on his recent circumnavigation which highlighted the many contributions of general aviation and honored those who have fought to defend our country. We thank him for his service and steadfast support for the freedom to fly."
In 1969, during the Vietnam War, Pearce was drafted and decided to enroll in an Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. Pearce logged 518 hours of combat flight and 77 hours of combat support during the Vietnam War. After he was honorably discharged from the United States Air Force with the rank of Captain, he became a professional pilot.
Rep. Pearce dedicated this mission to the memory of veterans who served and sacrificed their lives for our country. His route stretched across the Pacific and through the Coral and Java Seas, the Persian Gulf, and into the Mediterranean. The legislative session required Pearce to return back to Washington, D.C., but on May 30th, he returned to Europe to resume the remainder of the flight. Along the way, Pearce left war memorials made by the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. Created in the shape of a bear, they symbolize strength, courage, and human healing. Like his flight - these memorials honor the power of the human spirit to persevere no matter the obstacle.