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AIAA Awards Electra Aero Brass with Highest Honors

John S. Langford and Mark Drela Recognized for Work on Powered Flight

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has recognized the work of two key Electra principals with some of their highest honors.

Langford and Drela have worked together for more than 45 years, initially partnering up for projects surrounding powered flight at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They cycled through the Chrysalis, Monarch, and Daedalus aircraft projects before moving on to other work. The pair formerly worked for Aurora Flight Services, working on concepts that later became a fundamental part of the Electra eSTOL. Langford now serves as Electra's founder and Chief Executive Officer, moving there after serving in the same role at Aurora from 1989 to 2018. Drela was a "key contributor to many projects at Aurora", who originated the concept for the Electra eSTOL aircraft while at MIT with John Hansman. Langford and Drela are both members of the National Academy of Engineering, and both hold doctoral degrees from the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  

The AIAA award cites Langford for “exemplary achievement as an outstanding aeronautical engineer, visionary leadership in the development of autonomous flight, and relentless advocacy of the future aerospace workforce.” He has been given the Reed Aeronautics Award, named after Dr. Sylvanus A. Reed. Reed was an aeronautical engineer, designer, and founding member of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences in 1932.  

Drela is one of a trio of newly elected AIAA Honorary Fellows, the highest distinction conferred by AIAA. Becoming a Fellow allows the group to "recognize preeminent individuals who have had long and highly contributory careers in aerospace and who embody the highest possible standards in aeronautics and astronautics." Drela currently serves as the Terry J. Kohler Professor at the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His primary research areas lie in low speed/transonic aerodynamics, design of aircraft, aeromechanical devices, and computational aerodynamic design methodology.  



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