by Master Sgt. Lesley Waters
Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - P
12/12/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary
of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presented Dr. Donald Erbschloe, the
Air Mobility Command chief scientist, with the 2014 Harold Brown Award
during a ceremony at the Pentagon, Dec. 9.
The Harold Brown Award, established in December of 1968 as a tribute to
Dr. Harold Brown, the eighth secretary of the Air Force and 14th
secretary of defense, is the highest award given by the Air Force to a
scientist or engineer who applies scientific research to solve a problem
critical to the needs of the Air Force.
"Each year we do this to recognize significant achievement in research
and development by a single person who has demonstrated promise and
substantial improvement in the operational effectiveness of the Air
Force," James said. "Don really epitomizes the spirit of this award. He
has translated research and development into increased operational
During her remarks, James highlighted four of Erbschloe's
accomplishments. The first was precision airdrop. Erbschloe developed
the high speed container delivery system which allows air drop bundles
to land in a very small area and a wireless gate release system which
helps improve performance by decreasing variability in the air drop
She said these two field-proven innovations were used during the recent
humanitarian efforts for those trapped at Mount Sinjar in Iraq.
"The ability to put a package exactly where it needs to be, when it
needs to be there, is a very important capability for the Air Force,"
The second accomplishment was the ability to defeat biological agents.
Erbschloe developed the Joint Biological Agent Defeat System. He used a
mixture of hot and humid air to decontaminate aircraft against the most
robust of biological agents.
James said, "This is important if, in the future we have to enter and
then exit a contaminated area, in either peacetime or wartime."
The chief scientist's third accomplishment revolved around the wind
turbines and their effects on the air traffic control radars at Travis
Air Force Base, California. The radars use Doppler technology, which
relies on motion to identify aircraft. The large wind turbines in the
local area were impacting air traffic operations, because they reflected
radar energy back to the controllers which caused increased clutter and
the loss of identifying real targets and aircraft in the area.
Erbschloe led a review and established a mutually beneficial research
agreement between Travis AFB and the local wind farm developers, which
will help research and evaluate technical solutions to overcome radar
"This will lead us to improved air traffic control ability and a better
relationship between Travis (AFB) and the surrounding community," James
said. "He took what was a major tension and made it a win-win for all
The fourth and final accomplishment is called Surfing Aircraft Vortices
for Energy ($AVE). James compared $AVE to cyclists competing in the
annual Tour de France. Cyclists work together as teams in drafting off
each other, which is a strategy to reduce wind resistance and help
cyclists conserve energy throughout the course. Erbschloe applied the
same principle to two aircraft flying in formation and at an optimal
distance, reducing wind resistance and providing a five to six percent
fuel savings without any significant disruption to passenger comfort.
James said five or six percent might not make a big difference, but when
compared to a return on a savings account or less cost the Air Force
will have to pay for aviation fuel in the future, the numbers get really
big, really fast.
"This not only shows the creative intersection between technology and
our operational needs, but Gen. Spencer (Air Force vice chief of staff)
and I have this initiative called Make Every Dollar Count, where we are
looking for efficiency - this is a really good one," James said.
Erbschloe acknowledged the SecAF's remarks and thanked her and everyone
else present during the ceremony, to include AMC commander Gen. Darren
McDew, who watched the ceremony from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, via
"I didn't do this by myself," Erbschloe said. "This award represents the
hard work of dozens, if not scores, of individuals throughout
Erbschloe concluded the ceremony as it began, by recognizing the award's
namesake, from a reference made by Dr. Robert H. Cannon Jr., who was
the chief scientist for Brown. He said when Brown was the SecAF, the
general officers on the air staff really appreciated his leadership.
They liked him because he was smart, he would champion their projects
and he got things done.
"What a role model," Erbschloe said. "It is in that spirit and on behalf
of a lot of other people; I am privileged to accept this award."