Press Release: Franklin D. Harris is Awarded the 2006 AHS Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship

October 20, 2005
L. Kim Smith

Franklin D. Harris is Awarded the 2006 AHS Alexander A. Nikolsky
Honorary Lectureship

Alexandria, VA -- AHS Executive Director M. E. Rhett Flater announced today that Franklin D. Harris has been selected to receive the Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship.  The Lecture will be delivered at the 62nd AHS Annual Forum and Technology Display at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona, May 9 – 11, 2006.

The Lectureship is awarded to “an individual who reflects the highest ideals, goals and achievements in the field of helicopter and V/STOL aircraft engineering and development.”  In winning the award, Harris joins the ranks of previous distinguished Nikolsky recipients including Troy Gaffey, Richard M. Carlson, Howard C. Curtiss, Jr., Daniel P. Schrage, David Jenney, Evan Fradenburgh, Kenneth I. Grina, Robert R. Lynn, Rene Mouille, Alfred Gessow, Bartram Kelley, Robert Huston, Bruno Lovera and Barnes McCormick, Jr.

Mr. Harris was nominated based on his inspiration, keen dedication, and service to the VTOL design and development community as well as for significant contributions arising from his high degree of personal creativity, strong technical leadership, and valued advisory skills.

He has more than forty-nine years in the industry following his graduation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1956; including 21 years with the Boeing Vertol Company; 14 years with Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. and 13-plus years as a consultant to the Army and NASA at Ames Research Center (as well as to other members of the aerospace industry).

Mr. Harris’s distinguished career has included a myriad of accomplishments.  Following his graduation from the university, Harris worked at Boeing Vertol and he applied his growing engineering and management skills in 1) predicting and measuring the aerodynamic performance of Boeing’s first turbine powered helicopters, 2) predicting and measuring flying qualities of the world’s first tilt wing VTOL airplane, 3) finding efficient aeroelastic and structural solutions to helicopter loads, 4) applying fiberglass composite materials to helicopter rotor blades, and 5) developing advanced airfoils suited to helicopter rotor blades.

At Boeing he also was the Manager of the multimillion-dollar Boeing Wind Tunnel Complex.  He also became Director of Research and Development where he intensified R&D marketing activities and increased the dollar value of government research contracts awarded to the company by 20 percent.  Another accomplishment credited to Mr. Harris was his development of a new helicopter bearingless main rotor system that significantly reduced helicopter operating costs.

Harris joined Bell in 1977 and he became the Chief of Aerodynamics Technology, the Manager of Preliminary Design and then the Director of AHIP Engineering.  Eventually he became the Vice President of the LHX SuperTeam Engineering.

Upon his retirement from Bell in 1992, he became associated with NASA and US Army rotorcraft activities at Ames Research Center.  Over the years he has performed studies and prepared seminal papers on rotorcraft topics such as safety (accident rates); costs; aerodynamics, blade bending and autogyros.

He has been a member of AHS since 1960 and served in a variety of positions in the Society including committee member; Forum Technical Chairman; member of the Technical Council as well as the Technical Director.  He was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Society in 1980 and was a recipient of the Grover E. Bell Award in 1986.

Frank Harris’s lecture will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Journal of the American Helicopter Society and he will be honored at FORUM 62 with the presentation of a certificate and a medallion.

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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Past award recipients