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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics



    AIAA Mourns of the Death of James J. "Jim" Harford
    Second Executive Director of AIAA, Led Institute for 24 Years

    December 15, 2014 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of James J. “Jim” Harford, AIAA Fellow, and past executive director, on December 8, 2014, in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 90 years old.

    “Jim Harford’s dedication to AIAA over many years served as an inspiration to others,” said Norman Augustine, AIAA Honorary Fellow, former AIAA president, and retired chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin. “In many respects he was the backbone of our organization, providing the daily leadership any great organization requires. Jim will be enormously missed by his many colleagues.”

    Harford joined the staff of the American Rocket Society (ARS) in 1953 as its first executive director, overseeing the growth of that organization from four employees and 2,500 members to more than 45 employees and 20,000 members at the time of its merger with the Institute of the Aerospace Sciences (IAS). After the merger, Harford became deputy-executive director of the newly created AIAA, becoming executive director in 1964. Harford served the Institute as its executive director for the next 24 years, working with 25 AIAA presidents before retiring in 1988.

    Among Harford’s accomplishments as executive director were increasing membership to more than 30,000, and leading the successful relocation of AIAA headquarters from New York City to Washington, D.C., in 1987.

    Harford received the AIAA Distinguished Service award in 1988. He was cited for his “35 years of service and exemplary service of the highest order of quality” and “the deepest dedication to AIAA Sections,”and for special efforts in professional development, for students, and national affairs.

    “Jim Harford will be greatly missed,” said Michael Yarymovych, AIAA Honorary Fellow, president of Sarasota Space Associates, and former AIAA president. “He was an outstanding executive director, historian, and learned man. He was the best help I could have ever had during my presidency as we transitioned AIAA from New York to Washington, D.C. Without his attitude, we could never have done it.”

    Harford, an expert on the former Soviet Union’s space program, authored the book “Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon,” in 1999. It chronicled the rise of Sergei Korolev, his leadership of the Soviet space program, and the effect his death had on Soviet attempts to place men on the moon before the United States

    “Jim Harford was the heart and soul of AIAA’s predecessor organization, the American Rocket Society, and continued in that image after the merger with IAS to create AIAA,” said Jerry Grey, AIAA Honorary Fellow. “He was instrumental in making AIAA a truly international entity, through his close interaction with the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the International Institute of Space Law.” Grey concluded, “His cheerful good nature and can-do attitude contributed to his remarkably astute management capability, and it is in good part due to Jim Harford that AIAA is today such a strong and vibrant organization. We who worked closely with him—right from the beginning, in my case, in a number of elected AIAA offices and senior staff positions–will sorely miss him.”



    About AIAA
    AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 35,000 individual members from 80 countries, and 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
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551