Dr. Henry Kolm

  • Wall of Honor Location:

    Foil: 40 Panel: 4 Column: 1 Line: 12

  • Wall of Honor Level:

    Air and Space Leader

  • Honored by:

    Dr. Henry H. Kolm

Dr. Henry Kolm, a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Dept. of Physics, is one of the founders of the MIT National Magnet Laboratory, an authority on magnet technology, and a recognized inventor, innovator and entrepreneur. He has been an air charter pilot, founded ten high technology companies, and was named Entrepreneur of the Year 1981 by Money Magazine. He was awarded the Peter Mark Medal by the Department of Defense for inventing and building the first electromagnetic aircraft catapult for the Navy, to replace the steam catapults used previously since WWII. In 1994, he was named “Engineer of the Year” by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in recognition of his development of the first electromagnetically levitated transportation system, the “MIT MAGPLANE.” An operational model was exhibited at Dulles Airport in 1972.
Dr. Kolm immigrated to the U.S. after the invasion of his native Austria. During World War II, he served with the 20th Armored Division and later with the Pentagon Intelligence Service, where he was a member of the team which planned the strategic bombing of German industry and of “Project Paperclip”, which brought Wernher Von Braun and his Peenemunde rocket team to the U.S., along with over 300 other key engineers and scientists.
After earning his Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 1955 (for the first observation of quantized vorticity in superfluid helium), Kolm developed world record electromagnets (both pulsed and continuous), designed the MIT National Magnet Laboratory, and initiated its programs of high field applications. He built the first in-situ niobium-tin superconducting magnet, the first closed-loop supercritical helium cooling system, and the first pulsed field metal forming system, which is used as the safest method to swage terminal connectors to aircraft control cables and torque tubes. He invented high gradient magnetic separation and filtration, and the Magplane system of magnetically levitated transportation. Kolm also invented a catapult which stores energy in superconducting magnet coils for launching space vehicles to orbital velocity.
Kolm holds a commercial pilot license with multi-engine, instrument, and seaplane ratings. He has flown most Piper, Cessna, Beechcraft and Mooney airplanes for a total of 3,500 hours from 1959 to 2000, extending from the earliest instrument flight technology, the A-N beacons of the nineteen-fifties to the first approach-certificated global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation system in the nineteen-nineties. Kolm has flown his own Piper Navajo Chieftain ten passenger executive twin into most major and many minor airports in the US and Canada.


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