Theodore W. Knacke, USA

  • Wall of Honor Location:

    Foil: 35 Panel: 2 Column: 1 Line: 4

  • Wall of Honor Level:

    Air and Space Leader

T.W. KNACKE; My Contributions to Aerospace Engineering
In the 1930's I was tasked at a University of Stuttgart Institute to help develop a parachute suitable for the in-flight and landing deceleration of aircraft. The result was the ribbon parachute with the first aircraft parachute landing in 1938. In 1939 I was charged with further development of this slotted parachute and its application for the deceleration and recovery of air vehicles, missiles, ordnance, for aircraft emergency escape, air drop of personnel and equipment and related applications.
I continued this work in 1946 in the USA. Among my first assignments were the landing drag chutes for the B-47 and later the B-52 bombers. Improvement of the ribbon parachute, development of the ringslot parachute and work on the ringsail parachute followed. At the Northrop Corp. I was Chief of the Technical Staff that designed the parachute landing systems for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft resulting in 31 consecutive, successful earth landings
Later consultant activity included work on the space shuttle landing and the booster parachute systems as well as other programs. The AIAA recognized my contributions by naming the AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award the Theodor W. Knacke Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Award.