Donor's Love of Aviation Soars at Hawthorne Airport
(By Tom Quintana)
For many years, only the friends and co-workers of Steve Shackelford knew how much he really loved aviation. Now the entire community knows.
On August 29, 2001 Hawthorne Municipal Airport Manager Donald Knechtel along with Mayor Larry Guidi, FAA officials and community members, formally dedicated the renovated Leo Gay Court Yard that is nestled between the Airport Administration Building and the FAA's Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) facility. Shackelford personally financed and coordinated the renovation which was performed over the past nine months.
Shackelford, a 28-year FAA employee and Operations Manager at the AFSS, has created a tribute to the past, present and future of aviation in a multi-dimensional collage that is dominated by a 28ft high by 18ft wide hand painted mural entitled "The Ultimate Field Trip".
The mural depicts a teacher and four students wearing space suits and standing on the surface of a distant planet and represents the future. He obtained the rights to recreate the work from artist Michael Carroll. The mural was painted by John Wells.
Aviation past is represented in cast metal replicas on WWI era aircraft that are mounted on the ends of one of the three benches that have been added.
Shackelford used his days off to personally work along side Airport Maintenance staff to relandscape, re-plumb and re-wire the site and then plant new trees and shrubbery. One of his finishing touches was the addition of a fountain. During the dedication ceremony, Dawna Vicars, FAA Assistant Air Traffic Division Manager indicated that this wasn't anything new for Shackelford as he had previously performed similar projects on his own at other FAA facilities.
Included among these is the Flight Deck collection of aircraft models in the lobby of the FAA Regional Headquarters building located in Hawthorne at the corner of Aviation Blvd and Marine Ave. The collection includes a full-size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer which Shackelford was able to secure through the Los Angeles Chapter of the Aeronautical Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. His large collection of aviation art is also displayed throughout the facility.
From an article that appeared in the Hawthorne Lawndale Press Tribune