By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
The National Aeronautic Association this week released its list of nominees for the 2009 Robert J. Collier Trophy, long considered one of the more prestigious awards in the aviation world. The Collier Trophy aims to honor "the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year." This year's nominees are: Aircell, which offers inflight communications services; NASA's Ares 1 crew launch vehicle; Lockheed Martin's C-5M Super Galaxy cargo airplane; the Kandahar Airfield [Afghanistan] Operations Team; the International Space Station; the MC-12W Project Liberty Enterprise Team, which developed a variant of the King Air 350 for military use; the SpaceX Falcon 1 Development Team; and former Senator John Warner and the Excalibur Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle.
The Collier Trophy has been awarded annually for 99 years. Past winners include the crews of Apollo 11 and Apollo 8, the Mercury 7, Scott Crossfield, Burt Rutan and Howard Hughes. Projects and programs which have been the recipient of the Collier include the B-52, the Polaris Missile, the Surveyor Moon Landing Program, the Boeing 747, the Cessna Citation, the Gulfstream V, the Eclipse E500 and the F-22. The selection committee comprises 31 leaders representing organizations in aviation and aerospace and is led by NAA Chairman Walter J. Boyne. "We are extremely pleased with the list of nominations we have received for the Collier this year," said Boyne in a news release this week. "These projects reflect the extraordinary diversity of individuals and achievements found in our aviation and aerospace industry." The Selection Committee will meet on Tuesday, March 2, in Arlington, Va., and the winner will be announced the next day, March 3, at the NAA Spring Awards Luncheon. The formal presentation of the trophy will take place May 13 at a dinner in Arlington.