Janet L. McCoy


AUBURN -- William Trimble, a professor of aerospace history at Auburn University, has been named the Charles Lindbergh Professor of Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Trimble will serve one year in the post, one of the highest honors an aerospace historian can receive.

"Dr. Trimble's appointment to the National Air and Space Museum is a significant recognition of his academic career and we are proud of his accomplishments," said John Heilman, dean of AU's College of Liberal Arts. "His selection also points to the strength of our Department of History and is a reflection of the faculty in that department who are internationally recognized in aerospace history."

The Lindbergh Chair is by nomination from the Smithsonian, and is offered annually to a distinguished senior scholar in the history of aeronautics and spaceflight, said Michael Neufeld, curator of the Department of Space history at the National Air & Space Museum.

"We're very happy that Bill Trimble has come here as this year's Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History," Neufeld said. "He has a very distinguished record of publication with three important books on aviation history and another to be published. We're glad to have him."

Trimble is the second AU history professor to the named to the position. Distinguished University Professor David Lewis served in 1993-94 as the Lindbergh Professor.

While at the Smithsonian, Trimble will be conducting research and writing about naval aviation in the 1950s.

"I talked to people about various projects and had a lot of suggestions, some discouraging, because I was told I would need classified information because of the involvement of nuclear weapons at that time in our history," Trimble said. "I finally hit on a project the Navy worked on in the 1950s where they wanted to develop a strategic seaplane force to complement Air Force long-range bombers."

The Navy project Trimble is researching is related to the establishment of a mobile, sea-based strategic force with ballistic missiles.

The project would have "staged sea planes outside the U.S. (and) they would have had long-range capabilities to fly as a retaliatory force with nuclear weapons," Trimble said. "The concept was good, but there were problems in what kind of seaplanes would be used. I hope it will be a book, but I haven't gotten that far ahead. Ultimately I hope it will give me a better understanding what was going on in Naval history in the 1950s."

Trimble earned his degrees from the University of Colorado. He has taught at Auburn since 1985.

The author of several books on aerospace history, Trimble in 1995, edited a second volume of From Airships to Airbus: The History of Civil and Commercial Aviation, which was printed by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

His most recent manuscript, which was submitted for printing this past summer, is on Jerome C. Hunsaker, who was chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA.

# # #


CONTACT: Trimble, 202/633- 9063; and Neufeld, 202/633-9706.