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Two pilots to be inducted into Hall of Fame

Two pilots –albeit from two very different fields – were selected as this year’s Hall of Fame Inductees. The honorees will be recognized throughout Homecoming weekend, September 27-28. United Parcel Service captain Karen Koenig, Class of 1975, will be inducted as well as Major General David Forgan, Class of 1951, will be honored posthumously with his induction.

Koenig will return to her alma mater Friday, September 27, and is scheduled to speak with aviation classes throughout the day. Likewise, General Forgan’s spouse Shirley Forgan will discuss leadership with student leaders and those interested in the military.

The plaque unveiling will take place at 9am on Saturday, September 28, in the North Campus Reber Center foyer. Koenig and Mrs. Forgan will take part in the Homecoming parade and be the guests of honor at the Alumni Reception at the Corral beginning at 11:30am. They will also perform a ceremonial coin toss to start the varsity football game.

The LTHS Board of Education established the Hall of Fame to recognize the accomplishments of some 65,000 graduates, faculty and friends of LT and to provide role models to students. The Hall of Fame is organized by a volunteer member committee of alumni, faculty, staff, students and citizens.

Karen Koenig graduated from LT in 1975. Her love of planes began at LT with aviation classes and she has advanced to the pinnacle of her profession as pilot and captain of the biggest jets in the world. Throughout her career in aviation, she has faced adversity and discrimination in a male-dominated industry. As of 2019, there are approximately 144,000 commercial pilots in the U.S. and just 3% are women – a figure that hasn’t changed in 40 years. In fact, she was the only woman in all of her high school and college aviation classes; it wasn’t until she was out of college that she met a woman pilot. In 1975, during her freshman year of college at the Institute of Aviation, University of Illinois, she took her first solo flight and earned a private pilot’s license, followed by a commercial license a year later. In 1978, she earned an Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic license and Flight/Ground Instructor-Instruments license, followed by a Multi-engine Flight/Ground Instructor license in 1979 and Airline Transport Pilot license in 1980. She finished all flight licenses and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology from Illinois State University in 1980. Her first airline job was for Air Kentucky as a First Officer in 1984. For the next seven years, she would toggle between airlines due to closings, strikes and furloughs until she landed a job with United Parcel Service in 1991 as a Flight Engineer, eventually progressing to Captain in 2003. Since then, she has flown countless miles and flights around the globe and mentored hundreds of aspiring pilots. When she is not in the cockpit, she volunteers, mentors, lectures and teaches. She is an avid animal supporter having served as president for the Champaign County Humane Society and volunteer since 1992. She volunteers for Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic. She was also the President of Sigma House Association for the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority and participates in the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program, hoping to raise aviation interest in young people.

Major General David W. Forgan graduated from LT in 1951. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Colorado, a master’s degree from George Washington University and was a distinguished graduate of both Air Force Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College. He completed Army War College in 1972 and also attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He entered active duty in January 1956 and received his pilot’s wings in 1957. General Forgan served in numerous key assignments throughout the world, including Japan, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. He was a highly decorated officer flying a combat tour in 1967 in the F-105 fighter plane with 100 missions over North Vietnam – the most highly defended area in the history of aerial warfare. General Forgan’s final three significant assignments were at the NATO central headquarters in Brunssum, the Netherlands, Deputy Chief of Staff for operations at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he commanded all U.S. Air Force flying operations in Europe and Commanding General of Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. He retired in 1989 after more than 33 years of service. The general was a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours, all in fighter planes. He was well decorated. His many awards and citations include the Silver Star for gallantry in action for his Vietnam combat accomplishments, four Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen Air Medals for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flights. He was also awarded the Defense Distinguished Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In Spain, he was presented with the Aeronautical Cross of Merit. General Forgan passed away in 2013 and was interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.