Martin A. Knutson
May 1984 - Dec. 1990
NASA Photo In May, 1984, Martin A. Knutson was appointed Director of Flight Operations for NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, and also was assigned the additional position as Site Manager of the Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility at Edwards, California, a position he held until 1990.
Knutson attended the University of Minnesota majoring in electrical engineering. He began his aviation career as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Air Force in 1950. Following service in the Korea conflict and participation in developmental test and operation missions in F-84s, he joined the CIA's Air Division flying U-2s. He retired from the Air Force in 1970, having logged over 6,500 hours of flight time.
In 1971 Marty Joined NASA at the Ames Research Center as manager of the Airborne Instrumentation Research Project. In 1975 he was named Chief of the Airborne Missions and Applications Division, and served in that position until assuming the position at Dryden. He was Chief of Flight Operations for Ames Research Center from 1990 until his retirement from NASA in 1997.
In his six-year tour at Dryden he maintained the facility at 100 percent operational readiness for the most intense period of Shuttle landings ever at the site. He implemented a total modernization of research aircraft support at Dryden by replacing the aging F-104s with a modern F-18 fleet. Marty provided leadership during this period to the successful implementation of a variety of flight research/test programs such as the X-29 forward-swept wing, the planned crash of a B-720 loaded with an experimental FAA fire resistant fuel additive, the F-15 Digital Electronic Engine Control project that integrated propulsion and flight controls for greater efficiency, the Pegasus Air-Launched Rocket Vehicle, the CV-990 Shuttle Landing Gear Test Vehicle, and the F-18 High Angle-of-Attack Research Vehicle.
Near the end of his Dryden assignment, the USAF decided to terminate its SR-71 reconnaissance capability and destroy the airframes and associated assets. Almost alone in his belief that these unique aircraft would be needed again for the Nation's defense, Marty fought and won an uphill battle to transfer three SR-71s to Dryden.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, both from the Air Force. He has also received the Intelligence Star twice, NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive. He is an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a charter member of the federal government's Senior Executive Service.