Press Release

Aviation Week Laureate Awards Go to Heroes, Leaders and Innovators

By SpaceRef Editor
March 9, 2011
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UAV pioneers, mountain rescuers, and military cadets among honorees

Today in Washington, Aviation Week announced and honored the winners of the 54th Annual Laureate Awards, which recognize extraordinary individuals and teams for their exploration, innovation and vision in the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry. These prestigious awards went to the following Laureate Award winners, who have evolved their organizations, integrated new technologies, and inspired others to strive for crucial change in the industry.

* Aeronautics/Propulsion: The X-51A Waverider Hypersonic Vehicle Team (X-51A Program Managers Charles F. Brink, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Directorate, Wright Patterson Air Force Base; George Thum, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne; and Joseph Vogel, Boeing Phantom Works) developed an unmanned, hypersonic vehicle with a scramjet engine capable of controlled flight for a substantial amount of time and distance.

* Business/General Aviation: Randall Greene, chairman, president and CEO, Safe Flight Instrument Corp., supported, led and expanded the Corporate Angel Network, arranging free flights for 35,000 cancer patients.

* Commercial Air Transport: Jim French, chairman and CEO, Flybe, steered the independent airline to become one of Europe’s largest and most profitable carriers.

* Defense/Government: U.S. Air Force Major General (ret.) Michael C. Kostelnik, assistant commissioner, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fielded the Guardian Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System, the first air vehicle system dedicated to maritime homeland security and counter-narcotics missions.

* IT/Electronics: The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Team (Program Managers Edward Griffin, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Donald Swihart, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory) created “Auto GCAS” to predict and avoid ground collisions if pilots become disoriented or unconscious–a system projected to save 247 lives and $12.7 billion over the next 25 years.

* Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO): Tim Sassenrath, director, Apache Worldwide Support, Boeing Co., led the Apache Performance-Based Logistics Program, which achieved 95% material availability, increased flight hours by 20%, and resulted in continuous cost reduction.

* Space: The Radar Imaging Commercialization Team (Vark Helfritz, managing director, Infoterra GmbH; John Hornsby, president, MDA Geospatial Services Inc.; and Marcello Maranesi, CEO, e-GEOS) helped make radar imagery an essential element of geospatial information packages for government, defense and enterprise applications.

* Workforce: Rick Stephens, senior vice president, human resources and administration, Boeing Co., has worked to improve the public perception of scientists, mathematicians and engineers, as well as Boeing’s outreach to students through internships, university programs and social media.

During the black-tie dinner and awards ceremony, Aviation Week also honored the Philip J. Klass Lifetime Achievement Award winners, the Aviation Week Heroism Award winners, and Tomorrow’s Leaders.

* Klass Award: Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., retired president of the Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and Abraham Karem, founder of Karem Aircraft Inc., were recognized for their contributions to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Cassidy is considered the father of the Predator drone. Karem has made significant improvements to UAV technology and is currently working on a tilt rotor design to allow greater UAV cruising speeds.

* Heroism Award: Captain Daniel Aufdenblatten, Air Zermatt, and Richard Lehner, Swiss mountain guide, rescued three Spanish climbers on Nepal’s Mount Annapurna–the highest-altitude longline aerial rescue in history.

* Tomorrow’s Leader Awards, sponsored by BAE Systems, were presented to these cadets:

U.S. Military Academy at West Point Cadet Matthew Craig Belanger
U.S. Naval Academy Cadet Nicholas Connor Dunn
U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Gregory Eslinger
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet Jordan Kellam

Produced by Aviation Week, in conjunction with platinum sponsor BAE Systems; diamond sponsors the Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman; and emerald sponsors Dassault Systemes and ITT Corp, the Laureate Awards were held on March 8, 2011, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The event was created more than 50 years ago to recognize the achievements of individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace and defense. Today, this formal dinner and awards ceremony is the industry’s premier event – attracting scores of industry pioneers and thought leaders from around the world. Complete coverage of the Laureate Awards will be available in the March 21 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.

About Aviation Week:

Aviation Week, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is the largest multimedia information and services provider to the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries, and includes, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Defense Technology International, Business & Commercial Aviation, Overhaul & Maintenance, ShowNews, Aviation Daily, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, The Weekly of Business Aviation, Aviation Week Intelligence Network, MRO Links and MRO Prospector. The group also produces major events around the world.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the knowledge economy. Leading brands include Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at

SpaceRef staff editor.