Press Release: Dr. Fredric H. Schmitz is Awarded the 2009 AHS Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship

November 12, 2008
L. Kim Smith

Dr. Fredric H. Schmitz is Awarded the 2009 AHS Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship

Alexandria, VA -- AHS Executive Director M. E. Rhett Flater announced today that Dr. Fredric H. Schmitz has been selected to receive the Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship.  The Lecture will be delivered at the 65thh AHS Annual Forum and Technology Display at the Gaylord Grapevine Resort and Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas  on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.

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 their technical knowledge and experience.”  In winning the award, Dr. Schmitz joins the ranks of previous distinguished Nikolsky recipients including Dr. David Peters, Dr. Ken Rosen, Troy Gaffey, Dr. Richard M. Carlson, Professor Howard C. Curtiss, Jr., Dr. Daniel P. Schrage, David Jenney, Evan Fradenburgh, Kenneth I. Grina, Robert R. Lynn, Rene Mouille, Professor Alfred Gessow, Bartram Kelley, Robert Huston, Bruno Lovera and Professor Barnes McCormick, Jr.

Dr. Schmitz was nominated based on his long and distinguished career that has exemplified the highest ideals, goals and achievements in the field of helicopter and V/STOL aircraft engineering and development. He currently is Professor for Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland’s Alfred E. Gessow Rotorcraft Center.  In his 35-year career, Dr. Schmitz first worked for Boeing Helicopters for two years, then with the U.S. Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate for the next fifteen, joining NASA as the Chief of the Full-Scale Aerodynamics Research Division rising to the level of Director of Aeronautics of NASA Ames, and subsequently joining the University Maryland as the Martin Professor of Rotorcraft Acoustics.   In addition, he has educated and mentored many students at the University of Maryland and Stanford University during these years and these individuals are now working in key positions in government, industry and in universities.  

In his almost three decades at NASA Ames, Dr. Schmitz established and conducted a comprehensive program of research into rotorcraft aeroacoustics which is world-class in quality and unique in nature.  He has led efforts which produced and correlated results from theory, wind tunnel and flight tests and, in the process, dealt with the issues of the scalability of model results.  The usefulness, accuracy and completeness of this body of work have made Dr. Schmitz a world figure of high visibility and respect in rotorcraft aeroacoustics.  

Perhaps his most noteworthy scientific advance was being the first researcher to establish a close tie between the Aeroacoustics and Aerodynanics of rotors.  These insights have led to a variety of rotor design changes that have helped minimize the noise of today’s rotorcraft.  In 1994, Dr. Schmitz received the support of NASA and the U.S. Industry to re-develop the 40’ by 80’ National Full-Scale Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames to become the largest and best anechoic wind tunnel in the world, capable of testing everything from models to full-scale aircraft and rotorcraft components up to Mach numbers of .45.  The new tunnel is now in successful operation and is providing the nation with its only large-scale acoustic wind tunnel testing capability.   

In 1982 Dr. Schmitz founded and chaired the AHS Technical Committee for Acoustics.  In that same year, the AHS Awards Committee recognized him with the AHS Howard Hughes Award for his pioneering research and technology advancement in rotorcraft acoustics.  In 1994 his NASA Ames team won the Grover E. Bell Award, given “to foster and encourage research and experimentation in helicopter development.”  He also won a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1993) and received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive in the Senior Executive Service (1994).  

Dr. Schmitz’s lecture will be honored at FORUM 65 with the presentation of a certificate and a medallion.  His lecture is titled, “The Challenges and Possibilities of a Truly Quiet Helicopter.”  A written version of his lecture will be featured in an edition of the Journal of the American Helicopter Society.

AHS International -- The Vertical Flight Society is a professional technical organization which promotes vertical flight technologies and their applications around the world.

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