Choose Your Team
Event Planning

Captured Event

September 09, 2011 - "It's A Bird! It's a Plane! It's BrigGen Steve Ritchie!!

What: Fighter Pilot tribute to benefit Wings Over the Rockies

Where: Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum

When: Friday, September 9, 2011

Time: 6-11 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $45 per person or $600 for a table

Honoree(s): BrigGen Steve Ritchie, USAF, ret

EMCEE: Rich Downing

President(s): Greg Anderson

Staff: Matthew Burchette, Curator; Debbie Gradishar, Director of Sales and Corporate Events; Megan Quitter, Director of Education; Ed Massman, Controller; Jeff Franta, Facilities Manager; Alex Yampolsky, Membership Coordinator; Liz Ann Fischer, Volunteer Coordinator; Nancy McCurdy, Museum Store Manager; Jonna Green, Education Coordinator; Kevin Smith, Education Manager; Rich Downing, Director of Museum Advancement; Judith Bader, Executive Assistant/Campaign Administrator; Jeff Holwell, Chief Operating Officer

Welcome: Figher pilot and Wings board member Charlie Johnson

Catering: Bistro Boys Catering

Sponsors: Mission lead: Boeing, Allan McArtor; Flight lead: Rockwell Collins, Pete Coors, Julie Dugan, Lee Greenwood, Paul Meyer; Wingman: Joe Abbott, Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority, Michael Bertz, George and Diane Bye, Rich Downing, BGen John France, Randy and Kaye Hammond, Deborah Ings, Jeffrey McDonald, Tom Palmer, Robert Shank, Robert Thompson, Mason Whitney, Allianz Global Corporate, Col Dale Boggie, Howard Chilton, Stephen Eaves, Tim Gallagher, William Hendrix, Kim Lett, Rene Minjares, John and Stephanie Penney, Kevin Starkey, Jack Trimble, Ron Yates, Greg Andersnn, James Baumann, Keith Butler, JD Cutter, Bugs Forsythe, Henry Gallmeyer, Robert and Anne Hilton, Peter Paul Luce, Ralph Mulhollen, Julie Powers, JB Stone, Shawn Wallace, John Young

Menu: Crudites served in shot glasses; marinated chicken kabobs with pineapple and Maui onions brushed with pineapple rum glaze; beef kabobs with zucchini, green and yellow peppers and tomatoes; California rolls with pickled ginger; vegetable pot stickers with plum dipping sauce; fresh fruit display, mini chocolate cakes with chocolate ganache; lemon bites with raspberries

Attendance: 150

Attire: Flight/party suits encouraged

Hors D'Oeuvres:: Marinated coconut shrimp, fried and served with chili lime sauce; ginger marinated pulled pork on wonton crisps

Board of Directors: Rod Atherton, John Barry, Barney Carlson, Cindy Corrigan, Jack Cronin, Willie Daniels, Dave Dickerson, Greg Feith, John France, Charlie Johnson, John Knudson, Lindsay Kough, Peter Luce, Tom Marsh, Scott Nycum, Jeff Puckett, Robert Resling, Julie Savage, Harold Smethills (Chairman), Ronald Smith, Emily Warner, Pat Wiesner (Vice Chair), Carl Williams

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress

 Greg Anderson, left, Steve Ritchie, Charlie Johnson and Matthew Burchette as the ribbon is cut
Greg Anderson, left, Steve Ritchie, Charlie Johnson and Matthew Burchette as the ribbon is cut

When you spend the day shooting down enemy MiG fighters in Vietnam, shooting two in the span of 89 seconds and facing the fact that it's either them or you--every other day must be kind of uneventful in comparison.

Air Force BrigGen Steve Ritchie might have that problem, being the only Vietnam pilot ace with 5 MiG 21s to his credit, but he has spent the last three decades traveling the world and promoting freedom and the mission of our country. Although he was humble in saying others should have been honored, it was he who was in the spotlight Friday at the 2nd annual Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Tribute to Fighter Pilots event.

Everywhere you looked in the room, fighter pilot and military legends abounded, still exuding the panache, bravery and confidence that led them to triumph in battle. Col Jack Wilhite and his wife Bea, John Penney (still flying in competitions), Capt Charlie Johnson, Adjutant General Mike Edwards and his wife Laury, Gen Carl Miller and many others gathered to congratulate Ritchie and be the first to see the fighter plane exhibit, including the imposing Phantom II F4.

Ritchie said a few words to the gathering, talking with humility about his 5 MiG shots and the great odds that were against him, but he triumphed anyway. "How does one person get to be so fortunate?" he mused. "I don't know, but I'm certainly glad I am and that I can be here tonight."

Commander of the Colorado Air National Guart, BrigGen Trulan Eyre talked about some modern day flight plans, but told the crowd and Ritchie, "we're just the keepers of the history. You were the ones who made it." Wings Over the Rockies President and CEO Greg Anderson had a few flight stories of his own and proudly talked about the accomplishments and additions to the Wings programs and exhibits.

Get a glimpse into history and take in the fighter plane exhibit at Wings Over the Rockies--it's phenominal. For more information, log on to


See More Past Events