SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. Read More

SAE International Honors Two with Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award

WARRENDALE, Pa., Nov. 12, 2013 - Philip M. Saunders, retired Engineering Director of the Northrop Grumman Corporation and Leland Malcolm Nicolai, PhD,Fellow Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, were honored with the SAE International Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award during the SAE 2013 AeroTech Congress and Exhibition held recently in Montreal, Canada.

Mr. Saunders was named the 2011 recipient of the award; Dr. Nicolai was named the 2012 recipient.  

Established in 1992, the award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves by making significant contributions during their career in the innovative design and development of advanced aircraft and/or spacecraft. It’s made possible through a fund established by the Lockheed Advanced Development Company.

Mr. Saunders retired from the Northrop Grumman Corporation after 30 years of distinguished service. He was the Chief Engineer for the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System (N-UCAS) program, for which he is the winner of the 2011 Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award. He was responsible for the overall N-UCAS technical execution that included the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) X-47B prototype development, advanced concepts development and Autonomous Aerial Refueling. Prior to that, Mr. Saunders designed the B-2 bomber Lateral/Direction Control Augmentation System (CAS) and managed the design, development, integration and flight test validation of the B-2 flight control and terrain following/avoidance systems. He also served as manager of the B-2 Software Systems Engineering, responsible for the B-2 Avionics and Flight Systems development, integration, qualification testing, and delivery of the weapon system. Mr. Saunders graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.    

Dr. Nicolai graduated from the University of Washington in 1957 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering and an Air Force ROTC commission. He entered the Air Force as an R&D Officer and spent nine years (3 tours) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, designing and developing advanced aircraft; six years on the faculty at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and four years on the Air Staff and DARPA developing the Teal Dawn air launch cruise missile which became the AGM-129A/Advanced Cruise Missile. While in the Air Force he went to University of Oklahoma (MSAE), University of Michigan (PhD in Aero Eng), Auburn University (MBA) and Air War College. He retired in 1981 with the grade of Colonel.

Upon retirement from the United State Air Force, Dr. Nicolai joined Northrop Aircraft as manager of flight sciences working on the F-5E, F-18A and F-20. He then went to Fairchild Republic as VP Engineering and worked on the A-10A and T-46A. In 1986 he joined the Lockheed Aircraft Co./ADP (Skunk Works) in as director of advanced design and then chief engineer on several classified programs. He has worked on the F-22A, JASSM/AGM-158A, and F-35A,B,C.

Dr. Nicolai is the author of numerous papers and reports and three books: the 1975 text book “Fundamentals of Aircraft Design”, the text book “Fundamentals of Aircraft and Airship Design, Vol I – Aircraft Design” published by the AIAA in 2010  and  Volume II – Airship Design  published by the AIAA in 2013. 

SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting over 138,000 engineers and technical experts, we drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our charitable arm, the SAE Foundation, including programs like A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series™.


- -