The recipient of the 2015 Collier Trophy was honored at this year’s Robert J. Collier Trophy Dinner on June 9, 2016 in Arlington, Va. The award was presented to the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Dawn project team.

The National Aeronautic Association Robert J. Collier Trophy is awarded annually “for the greatest achievements in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” The list of Collier recipients represents a timeline of aviation, as many of the awardees mark major events in the history of flight.

About Robert J. Collier

As the only son of Collier’s Weekly publisher P.F. Collier, Robert was born in New York City in 1876. A graduate of George Washington University, Robert was an aviator, humanitarian, and sportsman, and also took over the paper after his father’s death. In 1911, Collier was the first person to purchase an airplane from the Wright Brothers for personal use. Shortly afterwards, he loaned the aircraft to the U.S. Army for flight evaluations at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. This in turn led to the first military orders for a flying machine. Robert served his country during World War I, and sadly passed away of a heart attack days after returning home from France in 1918 at the age of 42.

Robert J. Collier Trophy

In 1910, while President of the Aero Club of America, now known as the National Aeronautic Association, Collier commissioned a trophy with the intent of encouraging excellence and achievement among the American aviation community. The design of the trophy, by Baltimore sculptor Ernest Wise Keyser, was not taken lightly- literally. The 525 pound trophy was originally called the Aero Club Trophy, and was officially renamed the Robert J. Collier Trophy in 1944. In 1951, it found a permanent home at the National Air and Space Museum where it is on display. In recognizing the worth and future of aviation, Mr. Collier proclaimed the ideal that “the flying machine should be unselfishly and rapidly developed to its ultimate potential for economic advancement in America.”

The NAA

The National Aeronautic Association is the oldest national aviation organization in the U.S., incorporated in 1922. Its forerunner, the Aero Club of America (ACA),  was founded in 1905, and the ACA and the NAA issued all pilot’s licenses in the U.S. from 1905 until the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1926. A non-profit organization, the NAA is “dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the United States.” As the official record – keeper for United States aviation, the NAA Selection Committee is tasked with choosing each year’s nominees, and eventual recipient, for some of the most prestigious aviation awards. Throughout the years, members and supporters of the NAA have included a list of “Who’s Who” in the aviation industry: the Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, Wiley Post, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, and Dick Rutan.

The NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Dawn Project Team

The NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Dawn project team is the recipient of the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy for its “extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.” Launched in 2007 to gather information about the history of the solar system from its main asteroid belt, the Dawn spacecraft completed its years-long mission in 2015. From 2011 to 2012, it orbited Vesta, before entering orbit around Ceres in March 2015, marking the first mission to orbit two bodies. The spacecraft is currently exploring Ceres in its low-altitude mapping orbit, at an altitude of 240 miles.

Commemorative Challenge Coin

C. Forbes, Inc. is once again honored to design and produce a commemorative challenge coin for this year’s Collier Trophy recipient. The custom, antique bronze coin features an image of the Collier Trophy on one side and specific recognition of the NASA/JPL team on the other. An image of the Dawn spacecraft, protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres are also included. The coin is packaged in a custom coin card, which allows for descriptive text about the project’s accomplishments that merited receipt of the 2015 NAA Robert J. Collier Trophy. The 2015 Collier Trophy adds to the list of past recipients for which C. Forbes, Inc. is privileged to have designed custom, commemorative coins: the Boeing Company (2011); the NASA/JPL Mars Project Team (2012); Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy, and X-47B Industry Team (2013); and Gulfstream Aerospace (2014).

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