Yesterday, Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) joined senior members of NASA, the Armstrong and Dryden families, and the Antelope Valley community in Edwards California to honor and celebrate the lives of two extraordinary American explorers — Neil A. Armstrong and Hugh L. Dryden — through the naming of the NASA’s Flight Research Center and NASA’s Western Aeronautical Test Range.
Last year, Congressman McCarthy authored legislation, H.R. 667, to rename the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. On January 16, 2014, President Obama signed this legislation into law.
Congressman McCarthy’s Remarks:
“Thank you very much. First I want to thank David. Not only for making this happen today, but for his leadership of NASA. He has never forgotten where we come from. He takes the legacy of the past and applies it to a changing future. And that is what we are all looking for.
“I also want to thank Cathy Hart from the Antelope Valley Board of Trade. They kept this fire burning for nine years. And that takes a great deal of responsibility to make happen. I want to honor that Charles Bolden is here. We thank you for your work. We thank you for what you’re going to do in the future. We appreciate you coming here and seeing the capabilities that we have as well. A special thanks to State Senator Steve Knight. You think about the legacy that he knows, where he has been, and what he continues to carry on. He’s been a great part of making this happen.
“To be here today took an act of Congress and do you know what the sad part is? I had to pass it twice! We got it through the House one time, and in the Senate, it ran out of time. So we passed it again. But with everything you hear about Washington, I’m very proud to say nobody voted against it. The most overwhelming vote you could have.
“So we’re here today to honor two men and their amazing accomplishments through the naming of the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the H.L. Dryden Aeronautic Test Range. We all know the history of both men. But what’s most ironic when you sit here and think of Neil Armstrong, you wonder through somebody’s life if they made a difference. For Neil Armstrong, it wasn’t just everybody in America, but everybody in the world – where were you July 20, 1969? Everybody was watching. Everybody was wondering. Everybody remembers his famous quote. But then when he put that footstep down and he made that footprint on the moon that’s still there today – that legacy lasted.
“But before he put that footprint down on the moon, he put a footprint down right here. You look at the two instruments next to me. Conceptually, he was part of it before we even got there; the 2,400 hours that he flew and the seven years that he spent at this place. And he never forgot where he came from.
“But in that video we saw, I’m very taken by what he said on the 50th anniversary of 1996 when he talked about NASA, when he talked about his days here. He said, ‘My years here were wonderful years. Dryden was a most unusual place; its enormous curiosity, wonderful intensity, and unbelievable willingness to attempt the impossible here.”
“If you wonder what our quest is today, it is to never lose sight, to be able to get to the impossible. And that’s what still drives us here today.
“Before Neil Armstrong was here, there was Hugh Dryden. Think of the accomplishments that he achieved. Think of the history that he put forward. He helped developed the P-51 Mustang and the X-15 Aircraft that launched. When NASA was created in 1958, Dryden became the first Deputy Administrator. That’s pioneering, that’s setting a framework so others can propel. Unfortunately he passed away of cancer in 1965 just a few years before he could fulfill the Apollo 11 mission. But we will never forget him and today we’re here to honor the legacy of the two men. But not just honor them, we will continue that footprint for the next generation. So we can go further and continue to lead the entire world when it comes to space. Thank you and God Bless.”
Television coverage of the event:
KGET 17 (NBC-Bakersfield)
KERO 23 (ABC-Bakersfield)
KCBS (CBS- Los Angeles)