Robert J. Huston
United States of America
Robert J. Huston, Distinguished Research Associate, was born in Kansas and, according to him, grew up listening to the sounds of Cavalry horses, mechanized Cavalry, rifle, and machine gun fire, the boom of artillery and the buzz of military aircraft. He studied at Liberty Memorial High School and the University of Kansas. He served as an Aerospace Engineer from June 10, 1958, to 1992 at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. At Langley he found himself in the center of vertical-lift expertise, basically surrounded by the corporate memory and visionaries of an agency chartered to dream big dreams and accomplish the impossible. It was time to grow.
He received the Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship in 1998 for his lecture "The Future of Vertical Lift." The 1998 Alexander A. Nikolsky Lecture is a challenge to the vertical flight industry to develop flight systems for personal use. The argument offered that the relevant technology and infrastructure for semiautomatic and automatic flight of vertical lift aircraft is either available today or is currently under development. The remaining issue appears to be that of gaining sufficient individual aircraft and system reliability to meet a public standard of safety at an affordable cost. Vehicle cost will be affordable when the market requires mass production. The market will exist when the industry demonstrates quiet, reliable vertical-flight vehicles as a less costly and time-consuming alternative to the current congested short-haul air-transport system.
Journal of the American Helicopter Society: July 1999. Volume 44-Number 3