Octave Chanute Award
The Octave Chanute Award was created in early 1902 by the Western Society of Engineers for papers of merit on engineering innovations. It is still awarded as of 2011. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. (AIAA) introduced the "Chanute Flight Award" in 1939; it was presented for an outstanding contribution made by a pilot or test personnel to the advancement of the art, science, and technology of aeronautics. This award was discontinued in 2005. It was reactivated in 2010 as the "Chanute Flight Test Award" to recognize significant lifetime achievements in the advancement of the art, science, and technology of flight test engineering.
Octave Chanute, 1832–1910, was born in France and became a naturalized American. He was a self-taught engineer. He designed the first railroad bridge over the Missouri River and the Union Stock Yards in Chicago (IL) as well as those in Kansas City (MO). Octave Chanute was a pioneer aeronautical engineer and experimenter, and was a friend and adviser to the Wright Brothers.
Chanute waged a long campaign to encourage the invention of the airplane. He collected information from every possible source and gave it to anyone who asked. He published a compendium of aviation information in 1894. In 1896 he commissioned several aircraft to be built. The Katydid had multiple wings that could be attached variously about the fuselage for ease of experimentation. Chanute's biplane glider (1896) with "two arched wings held rigidly together by vertical struts and diagonal wire bracing" (the principle of the Pratt truss used in the railroad bridges which Chanute constructed) served as a prototype design for subsequent airplanes.
He is universally recognized as a prominent engineer, experimenter, writer and communicator, which is why these two award were given his name.
The former Chanute AFB in Illinois was named in honor of him, and so was the town of Chanute, KS
Some Chanute Flight Award Recipients
- 1940 Howard Hughes, engineer, pilot
- 1949 VADM Frederick M. Trapnell, pioneering naval aviator and test pilot
- 1954 Albert Scott Crossfield, test pilot
- 1955 Albert Boyd, pioneering test pilot
- 1957 Frank Kendall Everest, Jr, test pilot
- 1960 Joseph John "Tym" Tymczyszyn, test pilot
- 1962 Neil Alden Armstrong, X-15 test pilot, NASA astronaut
- 1965 Alvin S. White, test pilot
- 1966 John Leonard (Jack) Swigert, Jr., test pilot, NASA astronaut
- 1967 Milton O. Thompson, NASA Director of Research
- 1968 William J. Knight, X-15 and X-20 test pilot
- 1986 George Jansen 
- Charles N Haas, environmental engineer