AIAA Mourns the Passing of Honorary Fellow Jack Kerrebrock Written 2 August 2019


CONTACT: Michele McDonald

August 2, 2019 – Reston, Va. –Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics Jack L. Kerrebrock, 91, died on July 19.

Kerrebrock was known internationally as an expert in the development of propulsion systems for aircraft and spacecraft and served in numerous roles in academia and government.

Kerrebrock joined AIAA in 1959 and was elected an Honorary Fellow, the Institute’s highest honor, in 1998. He served on AIAA’s board of directors from 1985 to 1988.

He won the Dryden Lecture in Research Award in 1980 for “flow in transonic compressors.”

He received the J. Leland Atwood Award in 1992 with the citation “For enduring improvements to aerospace education through classroom teaching, student advising and mentoring, curriculum innovation and reform, authorship of a textbook, sponsorship of human powered flight vehicle projects, administrative leadership, and research contributions with a generation of doctoral students who have themselves become outstanding aerospace educators.”

“Jack’s adventurous spirit translated to all areas of his life, benefiting students and aerospace,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “His work in propulsion systems has helped our community in immeasurable ways and continues to do so through his students.”

Kerrebrock founded the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Space Propulsion Laboratory at MIT in 1962, as well as directing it until 1976. He became head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1978.

As associate director of engineering, Kerrebrock was the faculty leader of the Daedalus Project at MIT. Daedalus was a human-powered aircraft that, on 23 April 1988, flew a distance of 72.4 miles (115.11 kilometers) in three hours, 54 minutes, from Heraklion on the island of Crete to the island of Santorini. Daedalus still holds the world record for human-powered flight. This flight was the culmination of a decade of work by MIT students and alumni and made a major contribution to the understanding of the science and engineering of human-powered flight.

 He was also a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which along with Al Gore won the Nobel Prize in 2007.

*Image: Jack L. Kerrebrock, professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT | MIT

About AIAA 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 97 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information,, or follow us on Twitter  @AIAA


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