Vertical Flight Society Announces Winner of
2020 Alfred Gessow Best Paper Award

Fairfax, Virginia — The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) announced the winner of the Society’s prestigious Alfred Gessow Award for the best technical paper at the 76th Annual Forum and Technology Display. This year’s winning paper is from the Acoustics sessions: entitled, Development and Validation of Generic Maneuvering Flight Noise Abatement Guidance for Helicopters by James H. Stephenson, III. Dr. Stephenson is an Aerospace Research Scientist at the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) in Hampton, Virginia. He is also Education Director for the Hampton Roads Chapter. It and all of the best papers are available for purchase in the Vertical Flight Library & Online Store.

The selection process, which began in October 2019, was very rigorous. Out of more than 325 abstracts received, Forum 76 session chairs selected some 270 papers for publication, with 230 presented at the virtual, livestreamed event. During the Forum, the session chairs and technical committee chairs selected the best papers from each of the 21 technical papers for final consideration. Then the Society’s Deputy Technical Directors for Aeromechanics, Vehicle Design, Vehicle Integrity, System Integration, Systems Engineering, and Operations and Product Support winnowed that number down to six papers. Following that, the VFS Technical Director and a committee of technical experts reviewed and ranked the papers, and in that ranking, determined that the selected paper was the best of the best.

This year’s Forum 76 was held virtually from Oct 5-8, 2020. Next year, the Society’s 77th Annual Forum & Technology Display will be held May 11-13, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Dr. Stephenson will receive complimentary travel, registration and lodging to the 2021 European Rotorcraft Forum (ERF) in Glasgow, Scotland, Sept. 7-10, 2021, where he will present his paper. The award is named after the renowned helicopter pioneer, researcher, author, professor and founder of the rotorcraft center at the University of Maryland now named for him.

2021 Scholarships for Outstanding High School Seniors

The Hampton Roads Chapter (HRC) of the Vertical Flight Society International (VFS) has begun taking applications for our annual scholarships that recognize and assist high school seniors who wish to pursue a college education leading to a career in STEM-related fields such as engineering, physics, mathematics or computer science. Two one-time $1000 scholarships will be awarded to qualified students who reside in the region of the Chapter that includes the entire state of Virginia excepting the Northern Virginia / Washington D.C. area.  If you’re interested in applying, click here! Applications must be mailed and post marked  on or before March 5, 2021. The program is administered by Dr. James Stephenson, VFS-HRC Education Director

Vertical Flight Society Scholarships for Current College Students

In addition to the Hampton Roads Chapter college scholarships awarded to high school students, the Vertical Flight Society offers scholarships to students already in college at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level.  The scholarship awards may be as much as $6,000.  Applications are due February 1, 2021 and awards will be announced at the time of the VFS Annual Forum.  If you are interested in applying, click here.

Hampton Roads Chapter Education Outreach

Recently the Vertical Flight Society – Hampton Roads Chapter Education Director, Dr. James Stephenson, engaged with local primary school children to encourage and develop of love of science and mathematics. Dr. Stephenson met with 140 first grade students to teach a hands-on lesson about sound and vibration, part of the Virginia Standards of Learning.


Through the use of tuning forks, springs, a Chladni plate, and other hands-on tools he was able to show how vibrations propagate through different media, as well as how sound is produced through vibrations and movement. The students were engaged with a child-like wonder at the science, or ‘magic’ to hear them describe it, of the lesson. This is part of an active engagement in the local school districts by VFS-HRC, which includes outreach, college scholarships, and science fair awards. Future in-class engagements are planned. Local schools are encouraged to reach out and contact Dr. Stephenson (mailto:education@vfshrc.onmicrosoft.com) to discuss the possibility of a visit to your school!

Vertiflite – A Great Reason to Join VFS

There is probably more going on in the vertical flight arena today than any time in the last forty to fifty years. Even if you work in a highly specialized field, you need to know what is happening throughout the arena. Vertiflite Magazine is your go to resource.  Read it from cover to cover. Vertiflite is published bimonthly by the Vertical Flight Society and is delivered free to dues-current members.  Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are a member who just hasn’t gotten around to paying dues. There is no such thing. Join VFS on line at vtol.org and get in line for Vertiflite’s next great issue.

2020 Engineer of the Year Awards

The Hampton Roads Chapter of the Vertical Flight Society (HRC of the VFS) is accepting and encouraging nominations for two Engineer of the Year awards:

  • The John White Award – for recognition of the nominee’s career
  • The Bob Huston Award – for recognition in the early phase of the nominee’s career

Nominees must be current members of the Hampton Roads Chapter, which includes the entire state of Virginia excluding the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area  The nominations will be evaluated based on the nominee’s contributions to the rotary-wing engineering profession, significant technical accomplishments, and community involvement.  

Applications must be received by May 29, 2020. More details on qualifications and nomination instructions can be found by clicking here.

2020 Robert D. Powell Scholarship

The Robert Powell Scholarship was established to honor the long time treasurer of the Hampton Roads Chapter whose stewardship of the chapter’s financial assets has enabled the chapter’s STEM outreach program, including its scholarship fund. The 2020 Robert Powell scholarship has been awarded to Samuel Doty, the son of Hilary and Michael Doty. Sam attends Summit Christian Academy and is an exemplary scholar, leader, and athlete. He is a Gold Medal of Achievement recipient from the Royal Rangers, the equivalent of a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout award. Sam also earned a near perfect SAT score to complement his impressive college level course load. Sam plans to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University.

2020 Christopher Gavora Scholarship

The Christopher Gavora Scholarship was established in memory of the son of COL William Gavora, former Commander of the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate.  Chris was killed in a tragic high school baseball practice accident shortly after his family relocated from Hampton Roads to Texas.  The 2020 Christopher Gavora Scholarship has been awarded to Keith Butler, a student at Grafton High School.  Keith, the son of Katherine and Gary Butler, is a proven academic with collegiate level research experience at NASA Langley Research Center investigating human rated vehicle designs for NASA’s Mars mission. Keith is also a proven scholar, having taken an impressive number of AP courses and dual enrollment courses at TNCC, and earned a phenomenal ACT score. Keith plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science from the University of Virginia.

Open positions for Hampton Roads Chapter Officers

The Hampton Roads Chapter of the Vertical Flight Society is looking to fill out its Board of Representatives. The list of open positions is below, all dues-current members who are interested should respond to Mat Thomas (ahs.hrc.vp@gmail.com) or any other member of the board (contact details at https://vtol.org/who-we-are/our-chapters/chapter-officers2). As you can see, the board has been short staffed for a while, so we are looking to remedy that to continue to provide excellent conferences and feasts for the membership. The board has a lot of leeway to decide how to spend chapter funds and how to engage the local area with helicopter technology. If you have any good ideas or suggestions, then joining the board is a great way to turn those ideas into reality!  Chapter board meetings are held monthly from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month unless otherwise arranged.

2020Robert L. Lichten Award
VFS Southeast Region Competition Update

The Robert L. Lichten Award is presented annually for the best technical presentation by a VFS member who has not previously  presented at the Forum or regional technical meetings.  The competition is carried out first at the regional level with the regional winners traveling to the Annual Forum for final presentations. The chapters in the Southeast Region include: Aberdeen Proving Ground; Cherry Point; Federal City; Hampton Roads; and Patuxent River. Seven abstracts were received all from students at the University of Maryland.  The regional competition will be conducted  January 8, 2020,  at the University of Maryland.