Dr. J. “Bob” Balaram of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will help celebrate National Aviation Day, being observed Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Balaram, the originator of the concept that became National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA’s, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, and served as its chief engineer during its development, test and operations.
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took its first flight on Mars on April 19, 2021, marking the first powered flight on another planet. Described as a “Wright Brothers Moment,” this first flight marks the continuation of aviation achievements in the legacy of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first powered flight in 1903.
At this year’s National Aviation Day event at Wright Brothers National Memorial, Balaram will present a series of public talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 19, a fee-free day, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 20, that explore the connections between the Wright Brothers and the Mars Ingenuity Project. A special evening program is scheduled for 8 p.m. Aug. 19.
Following Balaram’s presentations, a team from AeroVironment Inc, the developers of Ingenuity’s rotor system, landing gear and fuselage structure, are expected to demonstrate a working, flying model of Mars Ingenuity in the visitor center’s Flight Room.
Throughout the week, the visitor center is hosting temporary exhibit panels designed in conjunction with NASA highlighting the parallels between the first flights on Earth and Mars.