NASA Ames Retiree Honored by AIAA for Lifetime Achievement
During a career that spanned more than three decades at NASA's Ames Research Center, Jack Franklin carried out research on Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) and Vertical or Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft. He retired from Ames in 2002 after serving 32 years either as a principal investigator in this field or as Branch Chief of Flight Dynamics and Controls.
This month Franklin was honored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) with the F.E. Newbold V/STOL Award for 2010. He is receiving this award for making “substantive research contributions to the art and science of the dynamics, control and flying qualities of powered lift aircraft.” For Franklin, this represents a lifetime achievement award.
“The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Helicopter Society (AHS) have been my professional aeronautics societies in my professional career. Both have provided the means to bring practicing engineers and managers, faculty and students in the universities together to exchange the latest information in their fields. I am grateful to them for recognizing my achievements throughout my career,” said Franklin.
While a student at Princeton University, Franklin studied the effects of turbulence on an airplane's handling qualities for his Ph.D dissertation. At NASA Ames, he began examining fundamental interactions between speed and power for powered-lift vehicles.
His work culminated in flight validation on three aircraft – the Augmentor Wing Research Aircraft, Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft (QSRA), and the VSTOL Systems Research Aircraft (VSRA).
“In my field, nothing can compete with the feeling of satisfaction when your ideas are developed and carried into flight in a real aircraft,” Franklin said.
Franklin also worked extensively with the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS), which was used to provide an encompassing set of data for different aircraft configurations, including flying qualities criteria, flight and propulsion control and cockpit display concepts, and operating procedures for operations in slow and vertical flight. With its unique features of large motion and real world displays, the VMS provided a critical link between NASA research and the aircraft industry and user organizations.
“Jack Franklin embodies what NASA research engineers should be: grounded in theory, but carrying that into successful demonstration of new ways of accomplishing aeronautical breakthroughs so that the U.S. industry can continue to lead the world in aeronautics,” said Victor Lebacqz, former NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics. “Jack has always been at the leading edge of applied research to improve the ability of STOL and VSTOL aircraft to perform their missions. This award is well deserved,” Lebacqz added.
Franklin always appreciated the environment at Ames that allowed for freedom to experiment. “I loved my job and I loved working on aircraft. Airplanes have always been a passion for me even as a small lad. I can’t imagine a better career than mine at Ames where I enjoyed the freedom to experiment and pursue ideas I had,” said Franklin.