Heide Piper, a NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain, has awarded pilot of Armenian origin Nadezhda Benklian for female empowerment and leadership.
Piper has received numerous honors and awards, such as the Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, and two Navy Achievement Medals. She has flown on two Space Shuttle missions, STS-115 and STS-126, during which she completed five spacewalks totaling 33 hours and 42 minutes. As of 2017, she ranks 39th on the all-time list of space walkers by duration
Piper presented awards to notable and courageous female alumni of the Aviation University in Tbilisi and a the Maritime Academy in Batumi.
Benklian is the first and only female pilot in Georgia's civil aviation and works at the Georgian Airways.
"It is a great honor for me, especially because the award was given to me by such a significant person. It's such an incredible feeling when such a person admires you. It turns out that she wanted to become a pilot, but was unable to due to vision problems," Benklyan said, according to Sputnik Georgia.