Two retired research pilots, who combined logged more than 17,000 hours of flight time at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, are set to enter the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame at the Virginia Aviation Museum.
Kenneth R. (Dick) Yenni and Lee Person are being honored in part for their extensive contributions to improving aviation safety and advancing aeronautics research.
Yenni, who now lives in Williamsburg, worked at NASA Langley from 1963 to 1995. His early research and test pilot work centered on improving the handling and stability qualities of rigid rotor and heavy lift helicopters. He also worked to advance airline flight systems and general aviation cockpit displays. Yenni was one of three pilots who practiced Moon landing simulations at the Lunar Landing Research Facility and demonstrated that stand up landings could allow steeper descent profiles and save fuel. He was also the primary research subject in experiments on weightlessness, proving that humans could work in space.
NASA Langley pilot/engineer Lee Person, now of Yorktown, often flew with Yenni. Person's NASA career spanned 33 years from 1962 to 1995. During that time his work included both aeronautics and space research. He did pioneering work in the use of in-flight thrust vectoring in close air combat for military fighters.
Person was also a part of moon landing research. He tested a number of one-man lunar flying devices and worked on orbital missions and space station rendezvous simulations. Chief among his space research tasks was Gemini - LEM docking simulations, flying lunar landing simulations and participation in the development of the Rendezvous and Docking Simulator at Langley.