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Boris Popov Wins Sperry Award

Boris Popov
Boris Popov

The year 2010 has proved to be a busy year for Boris Popov and Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) Aerospace. In January, Piper Aircraft, headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, announced that its newest entry-level aircraft the PiperSport will include a BRS airframe parachute as standard equipment. In February, it was announced the U.S. Army has increased its contract with BRS for production of cargo parachutes by an additional $8 million in orders. It’s more than a 50 percent increase over earlier production and will require the hiring of 134 more employees. In March, it was revealed that ultralight pioneer and BRS founder Boris Popov was the winner of the Sperry Award for 2009. The award is dedicated to Elmer A. Sperry, who developed a successful marine gyrocompass and many other navigation devices. According to www.SperryAward.org, it’s given “in recognition of a distinguished engineering contribution which, through application, proved in actual service, has advanced the art of transportation whether by land, sea or air.”

In April 1982, Boris Popov introduced the ballistic activated emergency parachute to the ultralight community in Glider Rider Magazine. He couldn’t have realized that 28 years later his name would be added to a prestigious list of inventors and engineers including Donald Douglas, Igor Sikorsky, and the inventors of the automobile automatic transmission. It’s easy for those of us who have grown up with his parachutes to forget that the whole airplane parachute concept was once a radical idea. By beginning with hang gliders and ultralights, he was able to prove his concept, advance the design, and grow the company until it has become a widely recognized example of success to the rest of the business world. Since its inception, BRS has delivered over 30,000 parachute systems including 4,500 systems on certificated aircraft. To date, BRS Aerospace parachute recovery systems have been credited with saving the lives of 243 pilots and passengers. A lifesaving technology that was unthinkable 28 years ago has become standard and part of mainstream aviation today. It has changed the way people think about the risks of flying, and for that, Boris Popov richly deserves the Sperry Award.

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