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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    Tom D. Crouch to Receive 2016 AIAA Distinguished Service Award
    Honored for Inspirational Leadership and Ceaseless Efforts in Promoting the Public Understanding of the
    History of AIAA and Aerospace

    March 24, 2016 – Reston, Va. – Tom D. Crouch, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Fellow, and senior curator of aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., has won the 2016 AIAA Distinguished Service Award. Crouch will receive the award at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala, June 15, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.

    The award honors Crouch’s “inspirational leadership and ceaseless efforts in promoting the public understanding of the history of AIAA and the compelling aerospace achievements of its members.”

    “From his authorship of the definitive history of AIAA, to his work preserving aerospace historic sites and artifacts, to his efforts to ensure that aerospace history will always have its own place within AIAA’s structure, Tom Crouch’s work has done much to preserve the rich historical legacy of the aerospace community as a whole and of AIAA in particular,” said Jim Albaugh, AIAA president. “On behalf of AIAA and its members, I congratulate him on being this year’s Distinguished Service Award winner.”

    Crouch has a long record of service to AIAA. A former chair of the Institute’s History Technical Committee, he has done much to preserve both the history of AIAA and the history of aerospace. He is the author of “Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics…and What Came Before.” Published in 2006, the work covers the history of the Institute, its predecessor organizations and the role that AIAA has played in the aerospace community. Additionally, Crouch also advised the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites Committee, and in 2011 helped designate the 1861 site of T. S. Lowe’s balloon demonstration flight as a historic aerospace site. Crouch is currently helping lead the selection committees for the Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, the History Manuscript Award, and the Children’s Literature Award. Crouch is an AIAA Distinguished Lecturer and presents several lectures on aerospace history each year.

    Before he wrote the history of AIAA, Crouch authored “The Bishop’s Boys,” considered by most historians to be the definitive work on the Wright Brothers.

    Crouch’s previous honors include the 2005 AIAA Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award and the 1977 AIAA History Manuscript Award. Among Crouch’s numerous other awards are the 2012 Paul S. Kerr History Prize; the 2003 William F. Shea Award for Distinguished Contributions to Aviation Award; The Smithsonian Distinguished Research Award for 2002; Aviation Trail Foundations’ 2001 Trailblazer of the Year Award and the 1989 Christopher Prize for distinguished contributions to literature affirming the highest values of the human spirit.

    The AIAA Board of Directors established the Distinguished Service Award in 1968 to give unique recognition to an individual member of AIAA who has provided distinguished service to the Institute over a period of years.

    For more information about the AIAA Distinguished Service Award, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Carol Stewart at or 703.264.7538.


    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
    12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551