Helicopters Magazine

Vertical Flight Society 2020 award recipients

April 16, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

The Vertical Flight Society based in Fairfax, Virginia, announced the 2020 individual recipients of its annual awards program. The organization explains that the VFS Awards, established in 1944, pay tribute to the outstanding leaders of vertical flight, serving as a catalyst for stimulating technological advances. This year’s 10 winners will be recognized at the Grand Awards Banquet on October 7 during the VFS 76th Annual Forum and Technology Display in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“Since Igor Sikorsky and General H. Franklin Gregory were first honoured in 1944, the Vertical Flight Society has been recognizing the leading contributors to advancing vertical flight,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director, Vertical Flight Society (VFS). “Those being recognized this year have made invaluable contributions to all manners of vertical flight aircraft – past, present and future.”

The 2020 VFS Award recipients, as described in part below by the society, include:

Dr. Alexander Klemin Award
Lt. Col (Dr.) Arvind K. Sinha of the Defence Aviation Safety Authority for the Australian Department of Defence. Sinha was recognized for more than 45 years of contributions, while in various roles in the military (including the elite 17 Parachute Field Regiment as its Para Eagle), academia and government (as Director of Engineering) for vertical flight operations, training, engineering, safety and service, providing enthusiastic leadership and promoting exemplary international collaboration.


Honorary Fellow
Andy Keith, chief, propulsion engineering for Sikorsky. In more than 30 years at Sikorsky, VFS explains Keith has provided outstanding leadership and technical expertise, while also making substantial contributions to VFS.

Technical Fellow
Dr. Mahendra Bhagwat, Aeromechanics and Basic Research Focus Lead, US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC), Technology Development Directorate – Aviation (TDD-A), for his pioneering contributions to the fundamental understanding of transient wake dynamics.

Technical Fellow
Prof. Carlos Cesnik, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan, has pioneered the development of the active twist rotor, advanced the state of the art in structural health monitoring, and has made landmark contributions to the coupled aeroelasticity-flight mechanics of very flexible long endurance aircraft.

Technical Fellow
Dr. Chengjian He, Vice President of Research and Development, Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc., is an internationally recognized authority on rotorcraft aerodynamics and modeling and simulation. Dr. He is the technical leader of the comprehensive rotorcraft modeling and simulation program, FLIGHTLAB.

Technical Fellow
John Schillings, Technical Fellow for Handling Qualities, Bell Textron, Inc., for 40 years of contributions to rotorcraft aerodynamics, handling qualities and comprehensive flight simulation.

John J. Schneider Historical Achievement Award
Kenneth M. Bartie of The Boeing Company. A Society member since 1981, Bartie has made significant contributions to documenting and preserving the history of The Boeing Company’s vertical flight heritage, support to the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center during its creation and founding, leadership in the VFS History Committee and creation of the annual VFS History Calendar since 2009.

François-Xavier Bagnoud Award (under 35 years of age)
Patrick O. Bowles of Sikorsky, for his numerous contributions to vertical flight while at the University of Notre Dame, United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. Most recently, Bowles was one of the leads in the extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) effort that solving the exhaust gas reingestion (EGR) issue for the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion.

Paul E. Haueter Award
Gwen Lighter, CEO of GoFly. Over the past five years, Lighter has been a “force of nature” — formulating and inspiring others with her vision of personal flying devices, securing over $2M in sponsorships, and launching an international competition that drew 3,800 innovators participating on 854 teams (100+ university teams) from 103 countries on six continents. The GoFly Final Fly Off on Feb. 29, 2020 drew dozens of the world’s most inventive vertical flight innovators; the Grand Prize was not claimed, so the competition continues.

2020 Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship
Dr. Mark B. Tischler, US Army Senior Scientist


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