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Retiree Banquet Launches Technical Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

By Holly Baker

Nostalgia and merriment were the order of the evening when more than 200 retirees and managers convened for the Technical Center’s first gala 50th anniversary banquet, on January 31, at the Greate Bay Country Club, in Somers Point.

The event was the ultimate reunion, where former and current federal aviation colleagues and friends met, reconnected, swapped stories and recaptured a special sense of camaraderie.

Following a festive reception, the formal program began as James R. Clinton, Sr. (retired in 1997) sang the National Anthem, and Reverend William E. Greene (retired in1997) gave the Invocation. Emcee and banquet chairman Ron Esposito (retired in 2006) welcomed the group, and then capsulated five decades of Tech Center history with an impressive, comprehensive slide show presentation, covering technical highlights of each decade and spotlighting each Technical Center Director.

An impressive array of speakers addressed the group. Former Center Director Joseph M. DelBalzo (retired FAA in 1994) gave a thorough overview of some of the earliest Tech center/NAFEC achievements, touching on everything from the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) to key advancements in fire testing. U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo emphasized the importance of the Tech Center as the nation’s premier aviation research facility. ATO Vice President of Operations Planning Vicki Cox talked about the important “Next Generation” integration work conducted at the Technical Center. Finally, Current Director Dr. Wilson Felder gave a vision of the future of aviation that would even turn (vintage futuristic cartoon character) George Jetson’s head!

Banquet attendees ranged from the earliest NAFEC employee, Irene Kain, who retired in 1977, to recent 2008 retirees Tom Flatley, Helen Monk, and Ken Peterson.

Esposito had high praises for the stellar committee that put together a fabulous banquet in an ambitious time frame. “It was a kick for me to work with Tech Center employees again to pull off something very important, with limited time and resources, ” said Esposito. “The committee was a dedicated, dependable, hard-working group that went all out to make the banquet a success.”

Esposito gave a few special accolades. “Kathy Fleming was a great help to me, taking on am important leadership role. She really kept things going, ” said Esposito. “And, Janet Kinsell did a fantastic job pulling together voluminous historical materials, selecting the pictures and creating the script for our slide show presentation.”

Esposito thanked Director Wilson Felder for coming up with the idea for the event, and Stan Ciurczak for his oversight as manager of all the Center’s 50th anniversary activities.

Other key committee members, who helped made the event a success, were: Beth Burkett, Melissa Silipena, Patty Greco, Henrietta Shelton, Ken Beisel, Barbart Mong, Donna Taylor, Barbara Harris-Para (retired 2007), Susan Linardo, Bernice Merly, Carol Widerker, Beth Delarosby, Carolyn McKinney-Bobo, and Janine Brown.

The anniversary banquet received photographic coverage in The Press of Atlantic City and in several editions of The Current weekly newspaper.

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