Eight vertical flight leaders recognized for their incredible contributions

The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) today announced the 2022 individual recipients of its prestigious awards program. Since its establishment in 1944, VFS Awards have paid tribute to the outstanding leaders of vertical flight and served as a catalyst for stimulating technological advances. This year’s winners will be recognized at the Grand Awards Breakfast on Thursday, May 12, 2022, during the Society’s 78th Annual Forum & Technology Display in Fort Worth, Texas: www.vtol.org/forum

“Every year since 1944, the Vertical Flight Society has recognized the leading contributors to advancing vertical flight,” said VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg. “This year’s awe-inspiring winners have all made incredible contributions over many decades of work that will have an impact for many decades to come.”

The title of Honorary Fellow is granted to highly distinguished Society members who have made exceptional leadership, innovative and/or other meritorious contributions that have significantly advanced VFS and the vertical flight community during their career. The 2022 Honorary Fellow is Philip J. Alldridge, Flight Test Fellow at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. As a member of VFS for over 40 years, Alldridge has provided extraordinary contributions in rotorcraft flight test development, design and certification. He was instrumental in developing fly-by-wire control system certification policy for the CH-148 Cyclone and modernizing existing policy for rotorcraft with traditional mechanical flight controls. He has also been an industry leader in developing certification techniques and criteria for flight into known icing conditions for both civil and military rotorcraft. Alldridge has started VFS chapters in Canada and Florida, served across multiple VFS committees, chaired several Forum sessions and increased VFS membership.

The title of Technical Fellow is granted to Society members whose career-based accomplishments towards the goals and objectives of the vertical flight technical community constitute an outstanding technical achievement. The 2022 VFS Technical Fellows are:

  • Prof. Kenneth S. Brentner, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, the Pennsylvania State University. Brentner is one of the foremost experts in rotorcraft external noise, and his work has greatly benefitted a wide spectrum of industry and government researchers seeking to understand critical issues in noise for rotorcraft. His technical contributions over 40 years at NASA and Penn State have been of great service to the vertical flight aeroacoustics community.
  • Dr. Ashish Bagai, Founder and Principal at buGi Aero, LLC. Bagai has made seminal contributions to vertical flight over a three-decade career spanning academia, industry and the government, with profound impacts on Future Vertical Lift (FVL) and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developments. 
  • Daniel Wachspress, Senior Associate at Continuum Dynamics. Wachspress has conducted superior technical research, supporting advances in the understanding of rotary-wing aerodynamics and in the critical derivative applications of full-aircraft aeromechanics and acoustics, and has spearheaded the embodiment of these advanced capabilities in widely used and accessible software tools.
  • Larry A. Young, Aerospace Engineer at NASA. Young has been the leading NASA researcher and advocate for planetary rotorcraft, resulting in the successful Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and plans for the Mars Science Helicopter. Young has also conducted ground-breaking research on a range of advanced rotorcraft concepts, fundamental rotor aerodynamics, small and full-scale rotor testing, and development of reduced-order models with a focus on rotor wake aerodynamics interactions.

The John J. Schneider Historical Achievement Award is given in recognition of distinguished achievement by an individual in encouraging appreciation of, and enhancing access to, the history and legacy of vertical flight aircraft. This year’s recipient Paul D. Faltyn, Curator Emeritus of the Niagara Aerospace Museum. Faltyn has dedicated much of his life to preserving the history and technological achievements of the Buffalo and Niagara Falls aviation history, with a special focus on the early Bell history in the area.

The annual François-Xavier Bagnoud Award is given to an individual Society member under the age of 35 for career-to-date outstanding contributions to vertical flight technology. This year’s award recipient is Patrick Darmstadt, Mechanical Design Engineer at the Boeing Company. Darmstadt has made significant contributions on vertical lift technology, especially towards propulsion systems and drivetrains, and safe electric propulsion.

The Society’s Paul E. Haueter Award is given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft. The 2022 Haueter Award is awarded to Dr. Martine Rothblatt, founder, and chair of the board of United Therapeutics. Rothblatt has instigated multiple earth-shattering innovations that have transformed society for the better in the fields of communication, medicine and electric aviation.

The Vertical Flight Society was founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943 by the pioneers of the helicopter industry, who believed that technological cooperation and collaboration was essential to advance vertical flight. VFS is the global non-profit society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology. For more than 75 years, the Society has led technology, safety, advocacy, and other important initiatives, and has been the primary forum for interchange of information on vertical flight technology. Descriptions of the awards and past recipients are available at www.vtol.org/awards.

By Press