August 26, 1886–September 10, 1984
BY JACK L. KERREBROCK
WHEN JEROME C. HUNSAKER died in September 1984 at the age of ninety-eight, his illustrious career had spanned the entire existence of the aerospace industry, from the very beginnings of aeronautics to exploration of the solar system. His colleagues had extended from the Wright Brothers to Charles Stark Draper, and included virtually all of the founders and leaders of aeronautics and astronautics. Beginning with important technical contributions, he soon turned his attention to creating and managing the new institutions needed to deal with the growth of the aeronautics industry. By the early 1930s he was at the pinnacle of the aeronautics industry with leadership roles in academia, government, and industry. In recognition of these achievements, in 1933 he was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Medal, the fifth such recipient after Orville Wright, Ludwig Prandtl, Fredrick Lanchester, and Juan de la Cuerva. His career continued at this level for nearly three decades.
Even after his retirement in 1951 as head of the Department of Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a department he founded in 1939, Hunsaker continued as chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) until 1956, a position he had held