The Aero Club of Washington was founded in 1909 by a group of forward-thinking Washingtonians, who wanted to enthuse the public about the fledgling aviation business. Since then, the Aero Club has hosted hundreds of national and international aerospace leaders at its monthly luncheons – from aviation’s early heroes to those making current headlines.

Today, the Aero Club of Washington continues its founding mission of fostering and promoting interest in the principles and development of aeronautics. As an industry cornerstone we are dedicated to providing a forum for the discussion of the aviation and aerospace issues and honoring the achievements of the industry’s thinkers and leaders.

The Club’s monthly luncheons provide an opportunity for members to network with other aviation professionals in the Washington area who meet to hear the leaders of the aviation industry share their thoughts and perspectives.

It All Started with an Idea…

Washington in 1909 was a strangely different city. The automobile was still a novelty. And only a handful of citizens believed that the flying machine was here to stay. On the record, the aviation skeptics built a strong case. Orville Wright of the Wright Brothers, inventors and pioneers of powered flight, had been released from Ft. Myer Hospital a few weeks before, suffering from injuries in a plane crash in mid-September. His passenger, Army Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge, was killed in the crash. An army contract accepting the plane had remained unsigned.

Public opinion as 1909 began was that the brothers were cranks, and their claims about powered flight only a dream. Even their achievements at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903, were dismissed by the general public as the hallucinations of a couple of crackpots. That the airplane had been invented by native sons only to be rejected by their country, that all indications were the machine would be exploited by a foreign power — these were only two of the frustrations suffered by a handful of Wright supporters. They saw in the airplane a powerful military weapon to protect the nation., and shared with the Wrights a vision of unlimited peacetime potential.

Supporters of the Wrights in this country decided that this could be done only by action that would attract national attention. Among the leaders of this support movement were many notable civilian and military figures.

An organizational meeting was held in the office of General Allen, Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. Army. Two days later, Articles of Incorporation were drawn and filed with the office of the Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia on the 25th of January 1909.

The Club’s primary mission, unchanged to this day, was:

To foster and promote interest in the principles and development of aeronautics and to extend honors and hospitalities to eminent airmen.

Moving Forward…

The early accomplishments of the Aero Club of Washington provided the Club with a solid foundation upon which to fulfill its important mission…the promotion ofaviation and the recognition of those deserving honor and recognition.

Beginning in the 1970s, the Aero Club developed a national reputation as one of the premier speaker forums for the aviation industry. Through the years, the Club has held a monthly luncheon at a central location in downtown Washington.  These luncheons provide members with a convenient place to meet their peers, renew acquaintances, and make new friends while attending the lunch during the business day.

We Still Have Our Heads in the Clouds…

Along with the monthly luncheons, the Aero Club of Washington continues to serve as the host of the Wright Memorial Dinner in cooperation with the National Aeronautic Association in the presentation of the Wright Memorial Trophy.  This gala event is the highlight of the year for the Washington aviation community as hundreds of government and industry guests gather in December to honor that year’s recipient.  The stature and tradition of the dinner has grown over the years and it continues to be one of Washington’s premier aviation events.

As the Aero Club began to expand its focus, the Board determined that a Foundation should be created to further enhance the Club’s support for aviation education.  In order to encourage corporate contributions and sponsorships, the Club formed the Aero Club of Washington Foundation on June 7, 1995.  Today, the Foundation has devoted its efforts to bringing aviation education to students in the DC Public Schools.  Through an extensive line up of field trips to the National Air and Space Museums, air traffic control facilities, Andrews Air Force Base, first flights with the Experimental Aircraft Association, along with mentoring by aviation professionals, the Foundation seeks to instill a passion for aviation in area youths.

The Aero Club of Washington continues in its mission to bring the Washington and national aviation community together to share and discuss aviation issues.

Board of Governors

Officers

President 
Clay McConnell
Airbus

Vice President 
Margaret McKeough
MWAA

Treasurer 
Paul Feldman
GAMA

Secretary 
TJ Schulz
Airport Consultants Council

Immediate Past President 
Margaret Jenny
RTCA

Committee Chair Board Members

Aero Club Foundation Liaisons
Faye Malarkey Black
RAA

Yvette Rose
CAA

Awards
Mike Nichols
NBAA

FAA Liaison
Carl Burleson
Federal Aviation Administration

Government Affairs
John Moloney
Boeing

David Richardson
Southwest Airlines

Historian/Special Projects
David Traynham

Legal
Russell Bailey
ALPA

Membership
Cindy Castillo
CSSI

Policy and Programs
Jana Murphy
SAAB Defense & Security

Melissa Sabatine
AAAE

Publicity
Katie Pribyl
AOPA

Sponsorship
Sharon Pinkerton
Airlines for America

TSA Liaison
Karin Glasgow
TSA

Wright Memorial Dinner
Scott Brenner
Rosemont Strategies

Donna McLean
Donna McClean Associates

Board Members

Ali Bahrami

Jana Denning
​Leidos

Ben Gielow
​Amazon

Patricia Gilbert
​NATCA

Natalie Hartman
​The Markham Group

Holly Woodruff Lyons

Steve Morrissey
​United Airlines

Bobby Sturgell
​Rockwell Collins

Paul Wiedefeld
​WMATA

Nancy Hackett
Executive Director