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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    AIAA To Recognize Achievements in Aircraft and Atmospheric Systems At Its 2017 Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition

    May 16, 2017 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will celebrate technical achievements in aircraft and atmospheric systems at a 12:30 p.m. (MDT) recognition luncheon on June 7, as part of the 2017 AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition (AIAA AVIATION Forum), June 5–9, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, Colorado.

    The honorees are:

    • The Solar Impulse Aircraft Design Team, Lausanne, Switzerland, will receive the 2017 AIAA Aircraft Design Award. The award honors team members, Sebastien Demont, Robert Fraefel, Peter Frei, Ralph Paul, Hannes Ross and Thomas Seiler, for their "innovative design of a piloted all-electric aircraft with multiple day-night capability, proven by global circumnavigation on solar power, including transoceanic legs."

    • Lt. Col. William R. Gray III, U.S. Air Force (retired), chief test pilot, U.S. Air Force Flight School, Edwards Air Force Base, California, will receive the 2017 AIAA Chanute Test Flight Award. The award honors Gray's "significant lifetime achievement in the advancement of the art, science and technology of flight testing engineering."

    • Robert A. Arbach, U.S. Air Force, program manager, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and president of Arbach Consulting LLC, Washington, D.C., will receive the 2017 AIAA Hap Arnold Award for Excellence in Aeronautical Program Management. The award honors Arbach's "outstanding vision, development, leadership and execution of technology programs for the advancement of U.S. military aerospace systems."

    • Erich Klein, balloon engineer specialist (retired), Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, Palestine, Texas, will receive the 2017 AIAA Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement Award. The award honors Klein for a "career dedicated toward advancing scientific balloon launch support equipment including the padded spool vehicle, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator launch tower, and the Antarctic Launch Vehicle."

    • Elsa J. Hennings, senior systems engineer, Escape, Parachute and Crashworthy Division, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, will receive the 2017 AIAA Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award. The award honors Henning's "expertise in overcoming challenges in decelerator design: including regulated drag area, innovations on space shuttle, Mars, and Orion landing systems and creative genius."

    • Richard A. Wahls, strategic technical advisor, Advanced Air Vehicles Program, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, will receive an AIAA Sustained Service Award. The award honors Wahls' "sustained, significant service at the national level through Technical and Program Committees with emphasis on conference/forum leadership and content development."

    In addition, AIAA will present certificates of merit for best papers.

    For more information about these awards, or about the AIAA Honors and Awards Program, please contact Patricia Carr at or 703.264.7523.


    About AIAA
    A AIAA is the world’s largest aerospace professional society, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and nearly 100 corporate members. AIAA members help make the world safer, more connected, more accessible, and more prosperous. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551