This is a Medallion Award presented to an individual for an outstanding achievement or contribution during the previous year as an ATC Manager.
Several airline collisions in the mid 1950’s spurred governmental action to expand and improve air traffic control and establish a Federal Office of Aviation agency. The Federal Aviation Agency came into existence when President Eisenhower signed the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. Elwood R. “Pete” Quesada, a retired Air Force General, became the first Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency. During World War II, Quesada flew many combat missions and held a series of important commands, including leadership, roles and contributions to the success of the Normandy invasion and other campaigns. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with one cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After retiring from the Air Force in 1951, with the rank of Lieutenant General, Quesada held a variety of positions in private industry before returning to government as Special Assistant for aviation matters under President Eisenhower. He was later appointed Chairman of the Airways Modernization Board. Under Quesada’s management the FAA assumed the full scope of its responsibilities and Quesada served as Administrator for the remainder of the Eisenhower Administration, resigning effective January 20, 1961. The Quesada Memorial Award recognizes the extraordinary achievement of General Quesada as head of the FAA in bringing together military and civil aviation air traffic control responsibilities and staffing key posts in the new agency to cope with critically needed ATC modernization.