An merican Tribute is the theme set for

Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium’s Aviator Ball


As lifelong Tulsans, many of us grew up asking the new kid on the block, “Where does your dad work?” and more often than not the reply was, “American Airlines.” This year, Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium’s annual fundraising event will honor American Airlines for its contribution to our community at the ninth annual Aviator Ball to be held on Saturday, April 30, 2011.

When American Airlines made the decision to move its maintenance, repair and overhaul base from New York to Tulsa in 1946, no one could imagine the impact it would have on this little prairie town. American Airlines has been instrumental in helping raise literally tens of thousands of families over the last 65 years. Today, many in our community continue to work for American just like their fathers and mothers before them, making American Airlines the single largest employer in the city.

In honor of this historic anniversary, Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium will join with past Mayors, city and county leaders and the Tulsa metro community to thank American Airlines for the impact their presence has had on our community. 

Anticipating a sold-out event, this year’s Aviator Ball will be held across from the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium campus at the imposing American Airlines Hangar 80. Guests will enjoy delectable cuisine under two enormous 757s as TASM toasts American Airlines’ commitment to Tulsa County and to the community for supporting educational programs at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. A variety of Tulsa-area restaurants are providing appetizers, dinner and desserts plus guests will enjoy complimentary wine and beer courtesy of Fred Parkhill and LDF Sales and Distributing.  Guests will also enjoy live entertainment from the Easy Street Band and have the opportunity to have their photo made in front of an enormous 757 engine.  The event also boasts a rousing live and silent auction, conducted by award-winning auctioneer Jerry Shannon, with auction items including thrilling flights on unique aircraft. 

A special program will include a tribute to American Airlines and celebrate the partnership with Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium’s mission to Preserve Oklahoma’s aerospace heritage and inspire science-based learning through discovery. Tulsa’s past mayors are participating and will be honored by our present mayor, Dewey Bartlett.

Proceeds from the Aviator Ball help fund TASM’s educational programming for the Sherman and Ellie Smith Hangar One Museum and the James E. Bertelsmeyer Planetarium, according to Glenn Wright, TASM executive director. “Like most non-profits the downturn in the economy has affected our ability to sponsor school tour groups to attend the Museum & Planetarium. Our annual fundraising event helps meet program and operational needs for the year.” TASM board member Fred Parkhill, Aviator Ball patron chair stated, “I support TASM’s educational programs because they reach out to all families. TASM maintains a scholarship fund so rural and economically challenged school districts may benefit from the science exposure at the Museum and Planetarium. This is an incredible asset for northeast Oklahoma.”

Carmine Romano is the 2011 Aviator Ball honorary chair. Romano was a 41 year veteran of American Airlines before his retirement in 2009. Before retiring he served as American Airlines Senior Vice President of Operations at the airline’s maintenance, repair and overhaul bases in Kansas City, Dallas-Fort Worth and Tulsa. Romano is Vice Chair of the Museum’s Board. He and board member Lee Hubby are responsible for bringing in the 1940s American Airlines DC-3 Flagship Detroit for exhibit during the event. A ride on the DC-3 will be a special live auction item. Guests will also have the opportunity to experience an armada of other aircraft flying in to kick-off the event.

“I still have some good friends at AA”, confided Romano. He wants future generations to know about Tulsa’s incredible aviation history so they will value their heritage and understand Tulsans’ sacrifices. “From WW II to the Race for Space, we were there to provide our country the resources needed to succeed. After retirement, it just made sense for me to be involved with TASM, to help promote the Museum & Planetarium and use the aerospace artifacts to teach students about math and science.”

“An American Tribute” Aviator Ball committee includes Patron chair Fred Parkhill, Honorary Chair, Carmine Romano, American Airlines liaison, Sheryl St. George, and Board Chair Barbara Smallwood. Other committee chairs are Susan Eck, Mike Hastings, Lee Hubby, Loretta Jones, and Machelle Linsenmeyer.


The Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium’s mission is to preserve Oklahoma’s aerospace heritage and inspire science-based learning through discovery. The largest segment of TASM visitors continues to be students, college-age and younger. Museum tours and hands-on, inquiry-based science exhibits are designed to motivate students to experience math and science at an early age. School field trips for public, private and home school consortiums, Spring Break mini-camps, week-long summer camps, Boy and Girl Scouts merit badge workshops, overnight camps and a student flight lab are funded by the Aviator Ball. 

Reservations for “An American Tribute,” Tulsa can be made by calling (918) 834-9900, ext. 119. Sponsorships are available and individual tickets may be purchased for $125 per person. The museum, located on the north side of the Tulsa International Airport complex at 3624 N. 74th E. Ave., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and general donations are tax-deductible.