This article first appeared in the Flight Test News, 18-10
Loosely speaking, three things happened during any Apollo mission. The launch was a disruptive phase during which the transformation of fuel and energy created a tremendous amount of heat and smoke as the rocket built momentum very slowly. During the second stage, material was discarded to focus limited valuable resources on the remaining task. Finally, ultimate success required precise navigation to the destination. This seems like a good analogy for any organization, but there is an important aspect that this analogy overlooks—the scaffold.
The scaffold itself was a marvel of engineering. Anyone who drives by a road or bridge construction project can watch something equally amazing unfold right before their eyes. The investment of time and work in the scaffold is definitely non-trivial.
In several poignant cases, our members have been building the scaffold for our Society. This month two stand out. In both cases, we see our members doing activities that support our primary purpose but do so on the periphery. In this way, they are not attracting the attention commanded by a Saturn V, but they are investing in the future of SFTE, flight test engineering, and the aerospace profession. Vanessa Bond, last year’s Kelly Johnson Award winner reflects on the legacy of our Society and this award, and in so doing highlights the efforts of another member. Chili Sakis discusses the STEM Rocket Day recently hosted in the Emerald Coast region and the value he places on investing in the next generation of FTEs, scientists, and industry leaders.