Lappos Selected as 2019 Nikolsky Lecturer

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Oct. 18, 2018
Valerie Sheehan

Lappos Selected for Vertical Flight Society’s Prestigious
2019 Nikolsky Lectureship
“Design Advantages of an Integrated Cyber-Physical Aircraft”

Nicholas D. Lappos for Nikolsky Lectureship 2019Fairfax, VA — The Vertical Flight Society, the world’s leading professional society dedicated to advancing vertical flight, announced today that Nicholas D. Lappos has been selected for the prestigious 2019 Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship. The Lectureship is awarded to “an individual who has a highly distinguished career in vertical flight aircraft research and development and is skilled at communicating technical knowledge and experience.”

This, the 39th Annual Nikolsky Lecture, is entitled, “Design Advantages of an Integrated Cyber-Physical Aircraft.” In his lecture, Lappos will pull from his vast experiences as a test pilot and test engineer to explore the ways that modern digital flight controls, real-time usage monitoring and airborne analytics can be harnessed to replace the stove-piped sub-system design rules that currently exist. This innovative approach has the potential to dramatically reduce the time for development of advanced vertical flight aircraft.

Lappos, a Senior Fellow Emeritus of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, was lauded at his retirement earlier this year as a “Combat & Test Pilot, Engineer & Executive, and Aviation Legend.” Lappos holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He received the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry during his U.S. Army career as a Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter pilot.

Lappos spent a total of 39 years at Sikorsky Aircraft, first as a flight test engineer then at the pilot office where he spent 27 years. He has flown over 70 different helicopters and amassed more than 7,500 flight hours. During his time at Sikorsky, he participated in the development of the S-76, UH-60 Black Hawk, RAH-66 Comanche, S-69 Advancing Blade Concept (ABC), S-76 Fantail, S-76 Shadow fly-by-wire demonstrator, CH-53E Super Stallion, and the S-92. Lappos became the Director of Test Engineering and then the Program Director for the S-92 program, finishing its development and taking it through its successful certification. Under his guidance, the team won the 2002 Robert J. Collier Trophy.

Lappos also spent three years at Gulfstream as the Vice President of Government Programs and two years at Bell as Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of XworkX, before returning to Sikorsky in 2011.

The Vertical Flight Society previously recognized Lappos in 1994 as a Technical Fellow and in 2013 as an Honorary Fellow (a rare combination), as well as the 1989 winner of the Society’s Frederick L. Feinberg Award. He was awarded the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal by the UK Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators in 2013. Lappos holds 22 U.S. patents (many of which demonstrate the nature of practical cyber-physical applications) and three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) helicopter world speed records. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Vertical Lift Consortium.

Lappos will present the Nikolsky Lecture at the Vertical Flight Society’s 75th Annual Forum & Technology Display, on Tuesday afternoon, May 14, 2019, the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he will then be honored the following evening at the Forum 75 Annual Grand Awards Banquet with the presentation of the Alexander A. Nikolsky medallion and certificate. A detailed written treatise expanding his lecture will be featured in the Journal of the AHS, the world’s only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight. Information on Prof. Alexander A. Nikolsky and prior Nikolsky Lectures is available at

The Vertical Flight Society — founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society — is the global professional society for engineers, scientists and others working on vertical flight technology. VFS brings together industry, academia and governments to tackle the toughest challenges in vertical flight. For 75 years, VFS has led technology, safety, advocacy, and other important initiatives, and has been the primary forum for interchange of information on vertical flight technology.

This press release is also available as a pdf.

The Vertical Flight Society

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