Former NASA Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility site manager Martin A. “Marty” Knutson died on Dec. 11, 2013. Knutson led the center for six years from 1984 through 1990 while Dryden was managed as a satellite facility of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Knutson joined NASA as a research pilot and manager of U-2 flight operations at Ames in 1971 and was instrumental in the acquisition of two U-2C aircraft for the agency’s Earth resources science program. He also served as one of several NASA U-2 pilots, and later flew the ER-2, an updated model introduced in 1981 that remains in service at NASA Dryden’s Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.
In May 1984, Knutson was appointed Director of Flight Operations for Ames, and was also assigned additional duty as site manager of the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility. During his six years at Dryden he maintained the facility at operational readiness for space shuttle landings and provided leadership for numerous flight research programs.
After the Air Force announced the impending retirement of the SR-71 Blackbird, Knutson successfully sought to acquire three of the airplanes for Dryden. In late 1990 he returned to Ames where he served as chief of flight operations until his retirement in 1997.
Knutson was honored with NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive. He was an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
A memorial is being planned for January in the San Francisco Bay area.
For more on Knutson’s NASA career, visit: