Paul MacCready

Infobox Engineer


image_width = 150px
caption = AeroVironment Chairman Paul MacCready shows a cross section of the AeroVironment/NASA Helios Prototype wing spar.
name = PAGENAME
nationality =American
birth_date = September 25, 1925
birth_place = New Haven
death_date = August 28, 2007
death_place =
education =Caltech
spouse =
parents =
children =
discipline =
institutions =
practice_name =
significant_projects = AeroVironment
significant_design =
significant_advance =
significant_awards =

Paul B. MacCready, Jr. (September 25, 1925 - August 28, 2007) was an American aeronautical engineer. He was the founder of AeroVironment and the inventor of the first practical flying machine powered by a human being. He devoted his life to developing more efficient transportation vehicles that could "Do more with less".

Born in New Haven to a medical family, MacCready was an inventor from an early age and won a national contest building a model flying machine at the age of 15.

MacCready graduated from Hopkins School in 1943, received his bachelor's degree in physics from Yale University in 1947, a master's degree in physics from Caltech in 1948, and a PhD in aeronautics from Caltech in 1952. He trained as a US Navy pilot at the end of World War II. In 1951 MacCready founded his first company, Meteorology Research Inc, to do atmospheric research. Some of MacCready's work as a graduate student involved cloud seeding.

He started gliding after World War II and was a three-time winner (1948, 1949, 1953) of the Richard C. du Pont Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the U.S. National Open Class Soaring Champion. In 1956 he became the first American pilot to become the World Soaring Champion. He devised the MacCready Theory on the correct speed to fly a glider depending on conditions and based on the glider's rate of sink at different air-speeds. Glider pilots still use the "MacCready speed ring".

With Dr. Peter B.S. Lissaman he created the first practical human-powered aircraft, the "Gossamer Condor", and thereby won the Kremer prize in 1977. The award-winning plane was built out of piano wire, bicycle parts, and mylar. In 1979, he built its successor, the "Gossamer Albatross", which won the second Kremer prize for successfully flying from England to France.

He later created solar powered aircraft such as the "Gossamer Penguin" and the "Solar Challenger". He was involved in the development of NASA's solar-powered flying wings such as the Helios, which surpassed the SR-71's altitude records and could theoretically fly on Mars (where the atmosphere is thin and has little oxygen). MacCready also collaborated with General Motors on the design of the Sunraycer, a solar powered car, and then on the EV-1 electric car.

In 1985 he was commissioned to build a life-size, flying replica of a pterodactyl for the Smithsonian Institute. The completed remote-controlled flying reptile was filmed over Death Valley, California in 1986 for the Smithsonian's IMAX film "On the Wing."

MacCready helped to sponsor the Nissan Dempsey/MacCready Prize which has helped to motivate developments in racing-bicycle technology, applying aerodynamics and new materials to allow for faster human-powered vehicles.

He was the founder (in 1971) and Chairman of AeroVironment Inc., a public company (AVAV) that develops unmanned surveillance aircraft and advance power systems. AV recently flew the first airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells, the Global Observer.

MacCready died on August 28, 2007 from brain cancer [ [http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-09-05.html Skeptic: eSkeptic: Wednesday, September 5th, 2007 ] ] .

Awards and honors

*Induction to the U.S. Soaring Hall of Fame, 1954
*Otto Lilienthal Medal of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, 1956 ("for his decisive victory in earning the title of World Soaring Champion in 1956")
*California Institute of Technology, Distinguished Alumni Award, 1978,
*Collier Trophy, 1979, by the National Aeronautics Association ("awarded annually for the greatest achievement in Aeronautics and Astronautics in America")
*Reed Aeronautical Award, 1979, by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics ("the most notable achievement in the field of aeronautical science and engineering")
*Edward Longstreth Medal, 1979, by the Franklin Institute
*Engineer of the Century Gold Medal, 1980, by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers;
*Spirit of St. Louis Medal, 1980
*Inventor of the Year Award, 1981, by the Association for the Advancement of Invention and Innovation
*Klemperer Award, 1981, Organisation Scientifique et Technique du Vol à Voile, Paderborn, Germany
*I.B. Laskowitz Award, 1981, New York Academy of Science
*The Lindbergh Award, 1982, by the Lindbergh Foundation ("to a person who contributes significantly to achieving a balance between technology and the environment")
*Golden Plate Award, 1982, of the American Academy of Achievement
*Gold Air Medal, of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale
*Distinguished Service Award, of the Federal Aviation Administration
*Public Service Grand Achievement Award, of NASA
*Frontiers of Science and Technology Award, 1986, first award in this category given by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
*The "Lipper Award", 1986, for outstanding contribution to creativity, by the O-M Association (Odyssey of the Mind)
*Guggenheim Medal, 1987, jointly by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
*National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement, 1988
*Enshrinement in The National Aviation Hall of Fame, July 1991, Dayton, Ohio
*SAE Edward N. Cole Award for Automotive Engineering Innovation, September 1991
*Scientist of the Year, 1992 ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists), San Diego Chapter
*Pioneer of Invention, 1992, United Inventors Association
*Chrysler Design Award for Innovation in Design, 1993
*Honorary Member designation, American Meteorological Society, 1995
*American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Ralph Coats Roe Medal, November 1998
*Howard Hughes Memorial Award, Aero Club of Southern California, January 1999
* Calstart's 1998 Blue Sky Merit Award, February 1999
* 1999 National Convention of the Soaring Society of America, dedicated to Paul MacCready, Feb. 1999
*Special Achievement Award, "Design News", March 1999
*Included in "Time" magazine's "The Century's Greatest Minds" (March 29, 1999) series "on the 100 most influential people of the century"
*Lifetime Achievement "Aviation Week" Laureate Award, April 1999
*Commemorated in Palau stamp, 1 of 16 "Environmental Heroes of the 20th Century", Jan. 2000
*Institute for the Advancement of Engineering William B. Johnson Memorial Award, Feb. 2000
*Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, National Design Award – Product Design, Nov. 2000
*Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award, American Solar Energy Society, April 24, 2001 ("lifetime achievement as an inventor, specifically for inventing the world's first two solar-powered aircraft")
*2001 World Technology Award for Energy, England, July 2001
*Prince Alvaro de Orleans Borbon Fund, First Annual Award, October 2001, from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, Switzerland
*The 2002 Walker Prize, Museum of Science, Boston, March, 2002
*International von Karman Wings Award, Aerospace Historical Society, May 2002
*Honorary Doctorate, Washington & Jefferson College, May 2007

Quotes

References

External links

* [http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article2409565.ece "The Times" obituary]
* [http://www.avinc.com/Dr.MacCready_bio.asp Obituary]
* [http://www.avinc.com/dr.maccready.asp Condolences]
* [http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mac0bio-1 Biography]
* [http://web.mit.edu/invent/www/ima/maccready_bio.html Perseverance: Paul MacCready] . Short biography from MIT Press. Text adapted from "Inventing Modern America."
* [http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/176 Video of Paul MacCready talking at TED]
* [http://www.adventurersclub.org/Slenderest_Threads.htm MacCready reflects on being stuck and rescued from the side of a cliff in 1993]


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