Photo of Dr. Tom Crouch with Wright Flyer in background.
Tom Crouch (Photo: National Air and Space Museum)

Tom Crouch wins AIAA award

In NAHA News /

RESTON, Va. – Tom D. Crouch, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Fellow, and senior curator of aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has won the 2016 AIAA Distinguished Service Award, according to an AIAA announcement.

Crouch will receive the award at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala, June 15, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center inWashington, D.C.

The award honors Crouch’s “inspirational leadership and ceaseless efforts in promoting the public understanding of the history of AIAA and the compelling aerospace achievements of its members,” according to the announcement.

“From his authorship of the definitive history of AIAA, to his work preserving aerospace historic sites and artifacts, to his efforts to ensure that aerospace history will always have its own place within AIAA’s structure, Tom Crouch’s work has done much to preserve the rich historical legacy of the aerospace community as a whole and of AIAA in particular,” said Jim Albaugh, AIAA president.

A former chair of AIAA’s History Technical Committee,Crouch has done much to preserve both the history of AIAA and the history of aerospace.

He is the author of Rocketeers and Gentlemen Engineers: A History of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics… and What Came Before. Published in 2006, the work covers the history of the institute, its predecessor organizations and the role that AIAA has played in the aerospace community.

Additionally, Crouch also advised the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites Committee, and in 2011 helped designate the 1861 site of T. S. Lowe’s balloon demonstration flight as a historic aerospace site.

Crouch is currently helping lead the selection committees for the Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award, the History Manuscript Award and the Children’s Literature Award. Crouch is an AIAA Distinguished Lecturer and presents several lectures on aerospace history each year.

Before he wrote the history of AIAA, Crouch authored The Bishop’s Boys, considered by most historians to be the definitive work on the Wright Brothers.

Crouch’s previous honors include the 2005 AIAA Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award and the 1977 AIAA History Manuscript Award. Among Crouch’s numerous other awards are the 2012 Paul S. Kerr History Prize; the 2003 William F. Shea Award for Distinguished Contributions to Aviation Award; The Smithsonian Distinguished Research Award for 2002; Aviation Trail Inc.’s 2001 Trailblazer of the Year Award, and the 1989 Christopher Prize for distinguished contributions to literature affirming the highest values of the human spirit.

Crouch is also a volunteer trustee of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.

The AIAA Board of Directors established the Distinguished Service Award in 1968 to give unique recognition to an individual member of AIAA who has provided distinguished service to the Institute over a period of years.