Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

Dr. Michael P. Scully was a US Army Senior Research Engineer Emeritus and VFS Fellow.

Born Nov. 17, 1942, in Albany, California, Scully developed an interest in aeronautics and astronautics at an early age thanks to his lifelong passion for reading and a vision of the future painted by science fiction writers of the era. This led to studies in aeronautics and astronautics engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a BS in 1964, MS and Engineer’s Degree in 1967, and ultimately a Ph.D. in 1975. His doctorate research was under the direction of Prof. Rene H. Miller on rotor wake geometry and the development of an early free-wake formulation. Upon graduation from MIT, Scully joined the preliminary design group of the Army Air Mobility Research and Development Laboratory (AMRDL) at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, in March 1975.

In 1976, Scully was assigned as performance factor chief for the Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) source selection evaluation board where he led a team of government engineers in the evaluation of flight performance for the Bell YAH-63 and Hughes YAH-64. He later led the government conceptual design of a number of new development alternatives for the Advanced Scout Helicopter program from 1977 to 1979.

In 1982, Scully was appointed as the Deputy Director (Technical), under Charlie Crawford, for the JVX Joint Technology Assessment. This assessment looked at developing a common family of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for the US Department of Defense (DOD) and led to his participation in the JVX tilt rotor source selection. Scully was recognized for his contributions to this effort in 1990 as part of the team awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy for the development of the V-22.

As the JVX source selection ended, Scully’s focus shifted to supporting the refinement of the Light Helicopter Experiment (LHX) requirement, where he led design synthesis on two of five alternatives (a tilt rotor and a compound helicopter) studied in the trade-off determination. This led to further conceptual design studies in 1985 for a helicopter and tilt rotor that informed the cost and operational effectiveness analysis.

In 1996, Scully was selected as an Army Senior Research Engineer (ST), where he became involved in the “Army after Next” study, and served on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) advisory group for the Karem (later Boeing) A160 Hummingbird. Scully also served as an advisor to the Army Science Board for numerous studies related to Army Aviation, and continued to be involved in Army concept formulation activities, including the Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) and Joint Multi-Role (JMR) initiatives.

In 2010, the Society awarded Scully the Dr. Alexander Klemin award for his significant influence on major military VTOL acquisition programs and for helping to shape critical thinking of high-level DOD officials defining future rotorcraft.

The image of Scully at industry review meetings, sitting with pocket calculator in hand, double-checking engineers’ work as they presented is etched in the minds of all who worked with him. With his manifold contributions to Army Aviation, Scully became known throughout government and industry for his critical and logical thinking and his dedication to technical honesty.

Dr. Scully passed away on Oct. 29, 2018, after a long battle with cancer. A full autobiography of Scully’s early career can be found in NASA/TP–2018–219981, posted online at

AHS Update: Vertiflite January/February 2019

Mike Scully