Charles H. Zimmerman
United States of America
Charles H. Zimmerman was an aircraft engineer who pioneered experimental flying machines and played a role in lofting the United States' first astronauts into orbit. He had been a member of the American Helicopter Society (now the Vertical Flight Society) since 1956 until his passing in 1996. Mr. Zimmerman spent most of his career in Hampton at NASA's Langley Research Center. He joined the staff in 1929 upon graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in electrical engineering. He later received a master's in aeronautical engineering from the University of Virginia in 1954. His work with aircraft stability led him to invent an early version of a vertical short takeoff and landing airplane. Another invention was a "flying platform," a pancake-shaped aircraft on which the pilot would stand upright and steer by leaning his body like a skier. For the US Navy, he developed the Zimmer Skimmer, formally named the V-173 Flying Wing, which Charles A. Lindberg tested. After heading NASA's Space Task Force in 1958, he became a Project Mercury division chief for logistics. He was named director of aeronautics at NASA in 1962 and retired in 1967.
Zimmerman died May 5, 1996 in Hampton, Virginia.
AHS Update: Vertiflite May/June 1996