Thomas P. Stafford is honored by the National Academy of Engineering.


Stafford Portrait in business suit

The National Academy of Engineering has announced Thomas P. Stafford from Weatherford, Oklahoma elected as a prestigious new member.


He was selected for leadership in the development of rendezvous and docking technologies for the Apollo and Apollo/Soyuz programs.


Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature,” and to the “pioneering of developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”  




Stafford was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma to Thomas and Mary Ellen Stafford.  After graduating from Weatherford High, Stafford attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Air Force, reaching the rank of Lt. General.  During that career, Stafford served as an astronaut for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) flying in four different space missions.  Stafford served as pilot on Gemini 6A, which flew from December 15-16, 1965, achieving the first rendezvous in space.  Stafford commanded Gemini 9A June 3-6, 1966 accomplishing another rendezvous and assisted pilot Gene Cernan as he performed a space walk for a full orbit.  On Apollo X from May 18-26, 1969, Stafford commanded the crucial dress rehearsal for the first moon landing, mapping and photographing the landing site for Apollo XI and testing out the Lunar Module in Lunar orbit for the first time.  Stafford’s final mission was the Apollo Soyuz Test Project from July 15-24, 1975 when he commanded the first international flight with the Soviet Union.  After his space career, Stafford served the Air Force by taking command at Edwards AFB and serving in the Pentagon.  While there, Stafford began the Stealth Technology program for the United States.


About NAE

Founded in 1964, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

The NAE is a member of the National Academies, which includes the NAE, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and the National Research Council (NRC)— which serves as the principal operating arm of the academies. The NAE operates under the same congressional act of incorporation that established the National Academy of Sciences, signed in 1863 by President Lincoln. Under this charter the NAE is directed “whenever called upon by any department or agency of the government, to investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art.”


By | 2017-08-11T04:13:30+00:00 February 20th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Thomas P. Stafford is honored by the National Academy of Engineering.

Spring Order of Bricks for Path of Honor Exhibit Due


The Stafford Air and Space Museum is adding more bricks to its Path of Honor exhibit, featured right outside its entrance doors this spring.

“We are excited to be ordering more personalized bricks to our exhibit,” said Marketing Coordinator Brandi Rizzi. “We’ve had several orders this past week and we have enough to place an order and these bricks will be in and installed by spring. We are certainly happy to include more bricks before we place this order so people can have a chance to get their own bricks and see them installed this year.”

The museum has placed over 30 individual personalized bricks already including several with General Stafford’s name and his families. This past year, the museum called upon O.C. Roof, with Weatherford Construction Company, a SASM Corporate Member, to build the newly redesigned brick layout surrounding the Apollo Boilerplate.

“O.C. did an outstanding job building our walkway around the Boilerplate,” said Museum Director Max Ary. “The personalized bricks are now displayed in a clean, complete layout and really showcase the support from the members of the community.”

General Stafford, who owns several bricks in the exhibit, saw the layout last year on one of his visits to the museum. “It looks great and I appreciate everyone who has purchased a brick and encourage everyone to get one!”

Rizzi said she will be placing the second brick order by February 21.

“This is a great time to purchase a personalized brick at the museum. It is a fun way to be a part of the museum and contribute to one of our best attractions in our city. It would be wonderful to fill the exhibit with the names of Weatherford citizens showing our museum guests the great support we have from our community.”

Brick prices start at $40 and feature 3 different sizes of bricks. If you are interested in purchasing a brick, contact Rizzi at the museum at 772-5871. You can also find more information at the museum’s website www.staffordmuseum.com


By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 February 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Spring Order of Bricks for Path of Honor Exhibit Due

Stories at the Stafford to be held Saturday, Feb. 8th

The Stafford Air and Space Museum is pleased to announce the second event in its inspiring new series entitled, “Stories at the Stafford,” for Saturday, February 8th at 7pm inside the museum. The special guest speaker for the evening is Mr. Dan Stroud from Oklahoma City. Stroud will be presenting to guests the story of the most significant aircraft from WWII, the B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber. Stroud will discuss the historical impact the bomber made in the war and present the history and development of the famous B-17 to guests of all ages. Numerous photos of the B-17 in action will also be presented. The B-17 “Flying Fortress” was first introduced in 1938. There were approximately 12,731 B -17s produced. The Boeing model was tested against other similar aircraft and was highly more successful winning the “fly-off” from other company models. Interestingly, the four-engine bomber has dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft during WWII. There are only around a dozen B-17s still flying today. Stroud, who is a current board member of the Stafford Air and Space Museum Foundation, is a Certified Flight Instructor, an Aerobatic Instructor, and is also rated in sailplanes and helicopters. He is the voice of all the major airshows in Oklahoma, including the “Aerospace America” and “Tinker Star Spangled Salute,” airshows. The event is free for all members and only $5 each for non-members, which includes admission to the museum for the evening. The museum encourages everyone to come out for this fun presentation only to be heard at “Stories at the Stafford.” For more information, please contact the museum at 772-5871 or visit the website www.staffordmuseum.com. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 January 31st, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Stories at the Stafford to be held Saturday, Feb. 8th

SASM Board Honors Three Outgoing Members


In December, the Stafford Air and Space Museum Foundation met for its last monthly meeting for 2013. At this meeting, Chairman Dan Stroud took a few moments to recognize three board members who have served with a steadfast enthusiasm for over six years. Dr. Blake Sonobe, Mr. Thad Wolgamott, and Dr. James Friesen were honored by current board members and museum staff as Stroud presented each with a special edition canvas print of the moon’s surface. Each canvas featured an engraved silver plaque with the board member’s name and years served. In their years as board members, each one contributed with his own character, helping to build the museum into what it is today.

During his years on the museum board, Dr. Sonobe was a true team player. He served as a key element in the designing and development of the strategic plan for the museum.  He put in a great amount of time and effort in leading the efforts of developing a plan for the museum to stand as its own unit from the airport, and have a board of directors to guide the museum into the future, creating a life for the museum. With these efforts, the board evolved. In addition to creating the strategic plan and layout of the board, Sonobe was a leader in fundraising. He was very active in all areas of fundraising, including representing the museum to potential donors. He also worked on grant research for the museum, helping to promote the museum in receiving grants for activities and projects.

Thad Wolgamott has served on the airport and museum board beginning in 2000, at the time when both entities were conjoined as one. Wolgamott involved in the separation of the two and began working with the museum’s operations as well as the airport’s. He, along with Dr. Sonobe and Dr. Friesen, all contributed to the strategic plan of the Museum Foundation and helped form the bylaws and guidelines giving the board structure. Wolgamott considers his biggest contribution to the museum the addition of the front entrance. He and other board members were able to have the front restrooms installed for visitors, instead of directing them to the airports. Happy with the results of the restrooms, Wolgamott knew there was a need for more. He pushed for even more space, conceptualizing the future need of a conference room, a retail area, and an open lobby. He saw the project through and today the museum has a large open lobby, complete with a conference room, gift shop area, and offices. Wolgamott has been very active in the museum’s fundraising events, and has served and is still a current volunteer tour guide for the museum.

The last departing board member is Dr. James Friesen. Friesen is a devout supporter and representative of the museum and has given the definition of board member and volunteer a new meaning. Friesen was present in the organization and development of the Foundation Board and put his touch in the creation of the bylaws and guidelines. He helped create the board into a driving force for the museum, always pushing for stronger, more meaningful membership and volunteer programs. Friesen, a proven handyman, has helped create and build many of the exhibits that are currently on display in the museum.  One of his biggest projects was the completion of the model rocket case currently featured at the museum. He was the project director, who oversaw the construction and completion of this exhibit which has become one of the museum’s icons. Dr. Friesen saw the potential in hosting the Apollo X and the Apollo XVII 40th Anniversary Galas, which still remain as two of the most memorable events at the museum for him. He has also helped design and built the Stafford Space Suit displays which give the museum the ability to retain the spacesuits on public display. These displays properly display the suit with the correct protective glass, lighting, and air circulation to keep them preserved. The Stafford Museum is one of limited museums that currently have actual flown space suits on display outside the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Friesen has served as a volunteer and tour guide for the museum for nearly ten years. The museum initiated a volunteer of the year award named after Dr. Friesen, in recognition of his hard work and commitment to the museum.

These three board members leave a legacy in which they all created from their enthusiasm and support of the museum. All three gentlemen have served in several ways as “founding fathers” of the Stafford Museum Foundation Board of Directors and have served their terms graciously and with heartfelt dedication. The board stands today as a strong unit, dedicated to their mission and serve with pride as it represents the heart of the museum. The museum staff and current board wish to thank each of these men for their time, efforts, and enthusiasm.


By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 January 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on SASM Board Honors Three Outgoing Members

First Powered Flight Made 110 Years Ago


“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who… looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space… on the infinite highway of the air.” – Wilbur Wright


Upon entering the Early Flight Gallery inside the Stafford Air and Space Museum, guests are greeted by Orville Wright in the pilots “seat” of the Wright Brother’s world famous Wright Flyer. Orville, who on December 17, 1903, made the historic first flight which lasted only twelve seconds and traveled only 120 feet before landing. The brothers’ incredible feat was not about getting into the air, but more for the development of the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavy-than-air human flight. Gathering data and studying from past flying enthusiast, Otto Lilienthal, the brothers continued Lilienthal’s research of using gliders to develop a means of a controlled powered flight. The Wright Brothers saw three problems that needed to be solved for such a flight: lift, propulsion, and control.

Their glider which flew at first like a kite was the brothers’ first step in achieving a powered flight. They built three gliders all capable of carrying a person. Each glider became a little more sophisticated as the brothers learned from each flight what was needed in order for more control. The 1900 Glider was first flown as an unmanned kite at their test site, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, before Wilbur climbed aboard and made a dozen free flights in one day. The 1901 Glider was similar to the 1900 version but it had larger wings. The 1902 Glider, which is featured in the museum lobby, utilized yaw control using a rear rudder and this design led to the 1903 Wright Flyer. From piloting their glider they learned that flying had three basic movements: turning left and right, going up and down, and rolling the airplane from side to side. All of these movements had to be controlled by the pilot and the Wright Brothers developed a way to conduct each action.

On the morning of December 17, they returned to Kitty Hawk and attempted the first powered flight of their Flyer. The Flyer was placed on a trolley that took off of a “runway” made up of 2x4s, which the brothers nicknamed the “Junction Railroad.” The brother who wasn’t manning the aircraft had to run alongside it holding the wing level for liftoff. With much anticipation, Orville flew into the wind, achieving lift. Facing into the wind allowed air to rush over the wings resulting in more lift and this got the Flyer off the ground quicker. Once in the air, one of the Life-Saving Station employees, John T. Daniel was so excited about seeing the Flyer take off; he nearly forgot to take the picture as instructed by Orville. After the fourth successful flight, a strong wind gust caught the flyer and sent it end over end, ultimately damaging the Flyer beyond repair. The Wright Brothers quickly realized the historical significance of their flyer and had it shipped back home to Dayton, OH. It was placed in storage for nine years. Ongoing debates with Orville and the Smithsonian began about placing the Flyer on display. Orville had presented the Flyer to the Science Museum in London, hoping to entice the Smithsonian to display it. However, the enticement didn’t work and the Flyer was sent to London in 1925. There, the Flyer remained on display until WWI. In 1948, The Flyer was brought back to the States and was placed in the Smithsonian where it has remained as one of the most popular artifacts on display. The Stafford Air and Space Museum’s Wright Flyer is considered one of the most accurate full scale replicas ever built and is a favorite among guests and remains one of the most prominent and well known exhibits in Western Oklahoma. The museum is one of the only museums in western Oklahoma to feature both the 1902 Glider and the 1903 Flyer.

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 November 13th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on First Powered Flight Made 110 Years Ago

Museum Hosted Nearly 200 Guests

The Stafford Museum hosted nearly 200 guests at its annual open house and membership drive last Saturday. The event was a super success shining a light on the museum’s membership program and engaging the public to learn more about General Stafford and the museum named in his honor. Museum staff member Tanner Wheeler began the day with a guided tour to an excited bunch, anxious to hear the stories of the exhibits and the history behind them. Staff member Sharon Butcher welcomed guests as they arrived, greeting them with a smile and directing them to each area of activities. All day guests had the opportunity to sign up for a membership of their choice, choosing from several different levels created to meet the needs and comfort of each guest.  With each signup, guests were able to enter a drawing for a pair of Thunder tickets to a home game the following week. The lucky winner was Mrs. Ann Wilson of Weatherford.

Another drawing at the museum was the chance to win one of two books about General Stafford and which were signed by him. Every guest had the chance to enter the drawing and the lucky winner of one of the books was Amanda Currier of Moore, Oklahoma. In the Rose and Tom Luczo Education Center, science demonstrations were performed by SWOSU professors Dr. Wayne Trail and Dr. Brian Campbell. The professors engaged the audience with the science of physics, with examples of static electricity and how sound resonates. The creation of a comet was also performed using dry ice, sand, and water, demonstrating the components of what makes up a comet.

After the crowd was dazzled with the elements of science, another physics demonstration had been taken place: grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Museum member Randy Nabors volunteered to grill up some delicious lunch for the event. The museum guests were treated to a free lunch served by museum staff and board members including Harold Wright and Blake Sonobe. United Supermarket graciously donated the hamburger buns. Guests chose their drinks which were provided by Bancfirst, who donated soft drinks, and water donated by Pioneer Cellular. Board Member Carol Moses donated twelve dozen cookies to the event. The afternoon events kicked off with free planetarium shows for anyone who wanted to enter inside the museum’s big black dome theatre. Guests of all ages enjoyed the shows during the early afternoon. More tours and membership signups lasted throughout the day. The museum wishes to thank everyone who came out and had a good time and extends a heartfelt thanks to all those who volunteered to help with the event. Plans are already underway for next year’s open house!  Stay tuned for the next exciting event!


By | 2015-04-01T19:29:52+00:00 November 12th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Museum Hosted Nearly 200 Guests

The KGA Functional Art Bench Program

Award-winning Houston designer Kelly Amen, formerly of Weatherford, donates his special Stafford Benches to be purchased by donors. Each limited edition and serial-numbered bench is identified with a commemorative 009inscription and displayed at the Stafford Air & Space Museum.

Amen, a native of Weatherford and a University of Oklahoma graduate, is a well-known designer in Houston, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, as well as Paris, France. His work has been featured in all media, from HGTV to nationally distributed books and magazines. One of his latest projects features his “1898 Weatherford, Oklahoma” bench which is permanently displayed in the first floor, West Wing, of the Oklahoma State Capitol building as a part of the Oklahoma Arts Council’s new Permanent State Art Collection gallery. This project honors the homesteading families of May and Caesar Folks and Emma and Casper Amen, and was presented as a gift from the City of Weatherford as a part of the 2007 Oklahoma Centennial Celebration.

His collection now includes the General Thomas P. Stafford, Astronaut Commemorative Bench (pictured above). These benches have laser cut images that General Stafford has drawn for this specific bench and his signature as well. These to purchase benches are a limited edition and can either be displayed at the museum or taken with the buyer. The proceeds of the bench go towards furthering the success of the museum’s education program. Each bench is numbered and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Kelly Gale Amen and General Stafford.  Come by and see this masterpiece at the museum during our hours of operation. For pricing information please call 580.772.5871 or emaildirector@staffordmuseum.com

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 August 27th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The KGA Functional Art Bench Program

Spacecraft hovers over “Path of Honor”

Outside the Stafford Air and Space Museum, giving visitors a hint of what’s inside the museum, are three outdoor exhibits: the F-4 Phantom, the T-33, and the Apollo Boilerplate. The Boilerplate, being the only spacecraft outside the museum, is about to become an outdoor exhibit like no other. The spacecraft, which is a real craft built for test projects, during the Apollo days, arrived at the museum years ago. The boilerplate (named for the type of steel used in its construction) were an inexpensive way to conduct a variety of tests and evaluations of the actual Apollo spacecraft. The museum’s boilerplate (BP-1210) has the same dimensions, shape, weight and center of gravity of a real Apollo, and was used in water recovery training. As the boilerplates proved out the many complex designs and procedures necessary for an Apollo mission to the moon, it was then set aside for the real Apollo to take center stage with astronauts aboard. The surviving boilerplates are now spread throughout the country, and have become landmarks for a variety of museums, centers, and schools, as will the museum’s unit. The Boilerplate’s newest task is to become the centerpiece of the museum’s newest revitalized exhibit, the ‘Path of Honor.” Bricks with the names of patrons, donors, supporters, and members of the museum will encircle the boilerplate creating a quiet exhibit for reflection and respect to all those who have contributed to the great Space Race and the Stafford Museum. New landscaping, provided by Chambers Landscaping, will provide a colorful addition to the exhibit, enhancing the exterior of the museum. Bricks will be placed around the boilerplate this summer and a new paint job underneath it will also take place this summer provided by museum member Bobby Marsee. If you are interested in having a special person immortalized in the “Path of Honor,” contact Brandi Rizzi at the museum.

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:31+00:00 July 31st, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Spacecraft hovers over “Path of Honor”