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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics



    AIAA Mourns the Death of Eugene E. "Gene" Covert
    AIAA Honorary Fellow

    January 21, 2015 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of Eugene E. “Gene” Covert, AIAA Honorary Fellow, and the T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), on January 15, 2015. He was 88 years old.

    “Eugene Covert’s contributions to the field of magnetic suspension systems for wind tunnel use have proven invaluable for researchers who are able to simulate free-flight conditions thanks to his vision and innovation,” said AIAA President Jim Albaugh. “We mourn his loss, but honor him for his many contributions to our community, his dedication to his craft, and his passion for shaping the future of aerospace.”

    The head of MIT’s Aeronautics Department from 1985 to 1990, Covert was an aeronautics specialist, credited with developing the “world's first practical wind tunnel magnetic-suspension system.” The system allows researchers to come as close as possible to simulating real, free-flight conditions within the wind tunnel environment. In the 1970s, Covert served as Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, and was also a technical director of the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development. Covert was the former director of MIT’s Center for Aerodynamic Studies. In the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, Covert served on the commission that investigated the disaster and determined its cause.

    Among Covert’s many honors were the 2010 AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award; the 2005 AIAA/ASME/AHS/SAE Daniel Guggenheim Medal; the 1997 AIAA Wright Brothers’ Lectureship in Aeronautics; the 1992 AIAA Durand Lectureship in Public Service; the 1990 AIAA Ground Testing Award, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development’s 1990 von Kármán Medal. Additional honors included an Exceptional Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Air Force, the University Educator of the Year from the Engineering Science Division of the American Society of Aerospace Education, and a NASA Public Service Award.

    In addition to being an AIAA Honorary Fellow, Covert was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, as well as an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering.


    About AIAA
    AIAA is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 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
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