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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

The Merger – 1963

By the late 1950s, both the ARS and IAS covered similar topics and members. In considering various options, although the first reaction of most people was negative, this option made the most sense, and after years of figuring out programs and procedures, the two organizations officially consolidated in 1963. Paul Johnston was chosen as the Executive Director of the new American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, with Jim Harford as deputy executive director; Johnston had agreed to retire 18 months after the launch of the AIAA and Harford then took over. Other staff positions were also eliminated: the ARS had had 49 staff members, the IAS had 67, but by July 1964, the total was down to 87, not including the specialists involved in the indexing operations, called the Technical Information Service.

The AIAA now had 47 technical committees (which has since grown to 66) and 66 local sections (now 64, including 2 in Australia).

At first, AIAA had only one broad technical publication, the AIAA Journal, followed by two specialized journals, the Journal of Aircraft and the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. Others soon followed, including a Journal of Hydronautics and a Journal of Energy. (Today there are seven AIAA journals, including one on-line only, the Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information and Communication.) The magazine title was changes to Astronautics and Aeronautics in 1964, and later to Aerospace America in 1984. The AIAA Student Journal was launched in 1963. The AIAA continued the ARS’ Progress in Astronautics Book Series, expanding it to Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics, and added the Education Series to publish textbooks.

Both societies had active awards programs that were easy to combine, and today AIAA gives over 80 awards in dozens of technical areas.

As for location, it was decided during the consolidation negotiations to sell the IAS building and move to new quarters in the Sperry Rand Building at 51st Street and the Avenue of the Americas. The two California office buildings were sold, San Diego in 1965 and Los Angeles in 1974.


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