Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America
Harry Meeker Lounsbury, the Society's first Executive Director, who guided AHS through its critical growth years from 1952 through 1976, died on February 28, 2001 in West Grove, Pennsylvania. He was 82. Born in Danbury, Connecticut, he graduated in 1938 from Wooster Preparatory School and later from Stewart Technical School of Aeronautics in New York City.
He launched his career at Stanford-based Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Corp as a licensed aircraft mechanic. During World War II he served as a First Lieutenant Engineering Officer with the US Army Airforce. Following the war he became the curator of the aviation museum of the Institute of Aeronautical Science, New York. He then worked for Eastern Airlines as a traffic and sales representative before joining the American Helicopter Society in 1952 as Executive Director. The Society headquarters in those days was in New York city.
When he retired from AHS 24 years later, Lounsbury received the AHS Honorary Fellow award which was presented by awards chairman Tom Strualpnagel and two-times AHS president Ralph Alex. Among his many achievements were the creation of Vertical Flight Foundation, the transfer of AHS to its new headquarters near DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., and membership growth to 3200. In his remarks he thanked the Society's members - he called them his "friends" - who selflessly volunteered their time and efforts to further AHS goals. He also thanked the chief executives of all the major helicopter companies, saying "It costs everytime an engineer leaves his drawing board to come to meeting of this sort to present papers. And yet they are allowed to do so. That's one of the reasons the Society is as great as it is."
Harry Lounsbury then took up residence in Greenwich, CT. As owner and operator of the Hobby House in nearby Cos Cob, he pursued his passion for building model airplanes, more than 2000 of which continue on permanent loan to the Military Museum of Southern New England, Danbury. He was active in the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Company, served as a representative to the Greenwich Town Meeting for three consecutive terms and was a senior advisor to the Eagle Scouts. He later lived in Sherman, CT and Ware Presbyterian Village in Oxford, PA.
In addition to AHS he eas a member of the Wings Club in New York, the Air Force Association, Aviation Space Writers' Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Aviation Historical Society and the Connecticut Aviation Historical Association.
AHS Update: Vertiflite Spring 2001