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Martha R. King



John and Martha King are members of the Explorers Club largely as a result of their indirect contributions to exploration by making aviation knowledge accessible to pilots around the world, including explorers. John and Martha have revolutionized the way pilots learn, and are regarded by pilots throughout the world as their personal aviation mentors. For decades they have taught nearly half of the pilots learning to fly in the United States. Each of them has taught more pilots than any other instructor in the history of aviation. They continue to be avid students of aviation and are the first couple to both hold every category and class of FAA rating on their pilot and instructor certificates. Martha is the first and only woman to achieve this.


They have circled the globe and piloted aircraft in every continent of the world except Antarctica, and in environments ranging from the High Arctic to tropical rain forests to remote deserts. They have pioneered improvements in the risk management practices of pilots and spoken to thousands of pilots worldwide on the subject.


Many of their students have used their aviation knowledge to explore and expand the boundaries of the possible. Among these are the following:


  • Peter Diamandis, inspired the first commercial space flight by creating the Xprize


  • Miles O’Brien, travels the world to bring the issues regarding our environment into focus for millions


  • J. Michael Fay, conducted the “MegaFlyover” of Africa, a detailed exploration of Africa by flying 70,000 miles in a small plane at low altitude taking photographs every twenty seconds


  • Dick Smith, the first person to circumnavigate the world by helicopter solo


  • Phil Lockwood, the developer of the Aircam aircraft which enables safe, low-level exploration of the most remote areas of the world


  • Ellen Paneok, the first female Inuit commercial pilot who flew exploration missions in the High Arctic.


Through their membership on the Board of the Lindbergh Foundation, John and Martha have supported the application of science and innovation to allow humankind to thrive while fostering our environment. John was for many years Chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation. The Lindbergh Foundation for over 31 years has given grants supporting research in every continent of the world.


John and Martha’s direct contributions to exploration have consisted of serving as pilots on a limited number of expeditions. The Kings have participated as a pilots in numerous low-level photographic expeditions conducted by Australian explorer Dick Smith to study and document remote areas in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Canadian High Arctic. 


As an example, from 26 June to 14 July 2003, they piloted on an expedition to study and document the effects of climate change in the Canadian High Arctic. The expedition survey commenced in Inuvik and proceeded to Sachs Harbour and Resolute, Canada. It then moved to Greenland, with surveys at Etah and Qaanaaq, before returning to Canada and ending at Cambridge Bay. Emphasis was placed on documenting the extent of the ice coverage, and the population of polar bears and narwhals. The photographic and written documentation was submitted to Australian Geographic and published in various places in Australia.


In the context that their aviation contributions have supported exploration, the following awards and recognitions are relevant:


  • 2019 John and Martha jointly enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) Class of 2019. Each year, the NAHF selects 5 or 6 inductees from a prestigious group of over 300 previously-nominated air and space pioneers to be recognized for their achievements during what is described as "The Oscar Night of Aviation." Their joint selection as husband-and-wife is unprecedented. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly inducted into the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Founders and Pioneers Hall of Fame, in recognition of their life-long dedication to making aviation accessible to all. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly received the Jack J. Eggspuehler Award from the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI). This award honors individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to flight instructors, flight instruction or aviation education.

  • John and Martha jointly chosen as one of "Eight Who Made It Great—the most inspirational personalities in general aviation" —based on an online survey of AOPA members. The others named were Bob Hoover, John Glenn, Chuck Yeager, Burt Rutan, Elrey Jeppesen, Paul Poberezny, and Bill Lear. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly presented the Distinguished Statesman of Aviation award by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The award honors outstanding living Americans who, by their efforts over an extended period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics, and have reflected credit upon America and themselves. (see more)

  • Martha appointed jointly by the Secretary of the Air Force and the national commander of the Civil Air Patrol to the Board of Governors. Founded on Dec. 1, 1941, to help protect the nation's shorelines from German U-boats, the CAP has evolved into a premier public service organization utilizing over 560 general aviation airplanes. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the Crystal Eagle Award by the Aero Club of Northern California in honor of their significant contributions to the advancement of aviation. Previous awardees include Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager, Stanly Hiller, Bill Lear, Eileen Collins, and Julie Clark. (see more)

  • Martha received the Women in Leadership award from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce. The award is presented to San Diego County residents who have demonstrated exemplary character, integrity and outstanding leadership, not only in their field, but in their community. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the Pinnacle Award by the Flight School Association of North America for their years of service to the general aviation industry.

  • Martha King was selected by the Ohio School Board Association as a Proud Product of Ohio Public Schools, a graduate who has achieved great success in their chosen field. (see more)

  • John awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the FAA for having demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for more than 50 years. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the Sword of Honour by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots for outstanding contributions to general aviation. The presentation was made by His Royal Highness The Prince Michael of Kent, in the ancient Guildhall of London. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly honored by Tomorrows Aeronautical Museum with the "Inspiring and Educating Aviators" award.

  • John named by AOPA Pilot magazine as one of 24 "General Aviation Giants" whose "contributions influence the way we fly and think about flying." (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the prestigious Frank G. Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) for their significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education by making aviation knowledge more accessible to pilots worldwide. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the IAOPA Service Award for Excellence in Aviation Safety and Pilot Training Education by the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations at the 26th World Assembly, Cape Town, South Africa.

  • John and Martha both named Living Legends of Aviation in an exciting evening in Beverly Hills sponsored by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, joining a short list of aviation luminaries including Bob Hoover, Clay Lacy, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Kurt Russell, Tom Cruise and "Sully" Sullenberger. (see more)

  • 2011 Martha named Chairman of the Chancellor's Community Advisory Board, University of California San Diego. The board is composed of citizens of the community interested in fostering positive and productive relationships between UC San Diego and the community at-large. (see more)

  • Martha inducted into the Fairborn (Ohio) Schools Hall of Honor, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of graduates of Fairborn Schools. (see more)

  • John and Martha jointly awarded the American Spirit Award by the National Business Aviation Association. This award is presented in recognition of individuals within business aviation who exemplify the courage and pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterizes the men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community. (see more)

  • John and Martha inducted as a couple into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. They joined famous aviation pioneers such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, Jack Northrop, William Boeing, Reuben H. Fleet, Glenn Curtiss, Wally Schirra, T. Claude Ryan, and Jimmy Doolittle Jr. (see more)

  • John and Martha each receive the prestigious Lowell Thomas award from the Explorers Club. This award is named for Explorers Club member Lowell Thomas, the journalist whose news reports introduced "Lawrence of Arabia"—T.E. Lawrence—to the Western public and is given to honor men and women who have distinguished themselves in the field of exploration. John and Martha were recognized for their work in making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration. (see more)

  • John and Martha each are elected as Fellows of the Explorers Club in New York City for their contributions to the cause of exploring by making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration throughout the world.

  • John and Martha jointly receive the Vision Award from Business & Commercial Aviation. Other 2008 recipients include Michimasa Fujino, CEO of Honda Aircraft Co and the driving force behind the Honda Jet, and Paul Bowen, the inspirationally artistic aviation air-to-air photographer.

  • John and Martha jointly receive the Forrest M. and Pamela Bird award by the Civil Aviation Medical Association for "...exceptional contributions to the safety of civil aviation as pilots and educators through exercising excellent judgment, logic and common sense in evaluation and training of civil pilots through the years". (see more)

  • John and Martha receive honorary Paul Tissandier Diplomas from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), in Lausanne, Switzerland, for serving the cause of general aviation through "their work, initiative, and devotion".

  • John named Chairman of the Board of The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. John and Martha both serve on the board. The Foundation, established in 1977 through the leadership of Neil Armstrong and Jimmy Doolittle, strives to improve the quality of human life by inspiring a balance between technology and our environment. (see more)

  • Martha awarded the prestigious Cliff Henderson Award for Achievement from the National Aeronautic Association. This annual award is presented to "a living individual or group whose vision, leadership, or skill has made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation or space activity." Previous recipients include Jimmy Doolittle, Roscoe Turner, General Curtis LeMay, Frank Borman, Scott Crossfield, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Ernest K. Gann. (see more)

  • John and Martha were each presented with "Master Air Pilot" awards in recognition of long service and consistently high standards by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in a ceremony presided over by His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in the ancient Guildhall of London.

  • John received the 2004 "Excellence in Pilot Training" award from the National Air Transportation Association. (see more)

  • Martha named one of the "100 Most Influential Women in Aviation" by Women in Aviation International. (see more)

  • Martha honored as one of the 100 Distinguished Aviation Heroes in the first century of flight by the First Flight Centennial Commission. At Kitty Hawk on December 16, 2003, Martha shared this honor with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and Patty Wagstaff and 15 others of the 32 recipients still living. (see more)

  • Martha honored by a resolution of the California Assembly and a proclamation from the Governor of California as the EAA chose Martha to fly the state flag to Kitty Hawk for the First Flight Centennial. (see more)

  • Kings inducted into the International Forest of Friendship, for contributions to aviation. The International Forest of Friendship is located in Atchison, Kansas, hometown of Amelia Earhart.

  • Martha appointed by President Clinton to First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board to help promote celebrations of the 100th anniversary of flight.

1996 Kings named "Aviation Educators of the Year" by Professional Pilot Magazin

Martha and John Kenya.jpg

In 2009, John and Martha were recruited to teach aviation risk management to the pilots of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Martha with Elephant.jpg
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