REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – No less than 80 nomination letters from around the world agreed – Dr. Mark B. Tischler, senior technologist for the U.S. Army, was the individual that should give the Vertical Flight Society’s 2020 Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship.
At the pinnacle of his career – an achievement he’s worked toward for years, a lecture meant to be attended by hundreds of people, including his closest peers and mentors – there sat Tischler, alone at home, in a suit and medallion, speaking to an audience he couldn’t see, at his computer.
While the scene wasn’t what he had imagined, it didn’t diminish the honor.
“It’s the highest technical award given by the Vertical Flight Society, and it’s an award of your peers, only given to one person worldwide each year – it is very competitive – it means a lot to be chosen,” said Tischler, who is based out of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
The Alexander A. Nikolsky Honorary Lectureship is a great honor bestowed annually by the Vertical Flight Society to “an individual who has a highly distinguished career in vertical flight aircraft research and development and is skilled at communicating their technical knowledge and experience.” The Army’s senior scientist for flight control since 2001, Tischler, a 2007 VFS Technical Fellow, was well-deserving of the accolade, having received the Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement award in 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2008, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award in 2009 and 2018 – and those are just a few of his accomplishments.
“Dr. Tischler is recognized internationally as a leading authority on aircraft system identification, flight control, handling qualities and simulation,” said Harry Nahatis, a member of the Vertical Flight Society board of directors. “He has led the research, development and implementation of analytical tools and methodologies that have fundamentally changed how aircraft flight control development and testing are conducted. His accomplishments reflect the abilities of a scientist who probes and discovers, and of an engineer who takes what is known and designs a product to meet a need.”
Tischler spent nearly a year preparing his lecture, after the Grands Award Banquet originally slated for May in Canada went virtual and was postponed to October. “Flight Control Technology Advancements and Challenges for Future Rotorcraft” covered flight control design drivers that distinguish rotorcraft from their fixed-wing counterparts, advancements in flight control technology over the past 50 years, the importance of collaboration and the contributions of researchers worldwide, and future flight control challenges.
While he covered the depth and breadth of his knowledge acquired over the years, he also took the time to address those who will follow in his footsteps. As he prepares to close out his civil service career and retire at the end of 2020, Tischler spoke to the next generations of engineers and researchers, as he reflected on the importance of mentors, specifically his father, in his own career.
“I believe that we’re in the golden age of flight control,” Tischler said. “There are many new configurations, many new missions and many new challenges. This really provides a golden opportunity for the young engineers coming into flight dynamics and control.”
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.