WRITER: Ximena Tapia
Erich Klein, former aerospace engineer and balloon engineer specialist for New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory, received the Otto C. Winzen Lifetime Achievement award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
He received this award for his outstanding contributions and achievements in the advancement of free flight balloon systems and related technologies. Klein designed and analyzed mechanical hardware for many balloon flight systems throughout his career, and some of his flight systems are still being used today.
“Many of the challenges he faced in his career have been difficult projects, complex projects, safety related projects, or all three. He took on the hard jobs, the messy jobs, and the very difficult jobs,” said Henry Cathey, deputy director for NMSU’s PSL. “This award is a well-deserved recognition of his career.”
Klein said, “It is such a great feeling to receive this award after a long career. I was nominated by other great engineers and very intelligent people, so for them to select me was a great honor.”
Klein worked for the PSL for 28 years before retiring in 2015. He was the first person hired to work on the PSL balloon contract in 1987. He also worked as a campaign manager for many balloon flight campaigns all over the world.