2022: CAPT Richard Folga, CAsP, FAsMA
Captain Folga’s contributions to aerospace physiology span 25 years and are documented in his service as AsPS President, CAsP Board Chair, and through 29 AsMA conference presentations. As an aeromedical scientist, he has served as an investigator on over two dozen research studies, co-author of five ASEM/AMPH journal articles, five technical reports, and 40 presented abstracts. His efforts as a founding member of the Joint Strike Fighter Aeromedical Community of Interest and Physiologic Episode Team representative have been utterly invaluable. As both a Naval Aerospace Physiologist and Aerospace Medical Association member since 1997, Captain Folga has attended and actively supported 23 consecutive annual meetings and served six years on the Aerospace Physiology Certification Board, including the role of Chair. For his 23 years as an Aerospace Physiology Society member, he served on the Board of Governors for 15 years, including leading as the society’s 50th anniversary year President.
His contributions to the field of Aerospace Physiology are numerous. Early in his career, he spearheaded US Navy aircrew life support equipment development efforts including supplemental aircrew eye protection, communication earplug approval for Marine Corps Rotary Wing aircrew, and improved rotary wing helmet comfort. He made significant improvements to the quality, content, and delivery technology for night vision goggle training curricula. He led the Naval Aviation Survival Training Program team in the initial fleet-wide training and subsequent large-scale rollout of the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD). He shared all the successes and lessons learned from the ROBD program with US Air Force and US Army Aerospace Physiology Program colleagues, helping to advance their effort to implement normobaric hypoxia training. Throughout his entire career, he has been an advocate for a deeper understanding of the causes of, improved training quality, and the development of advanced countermeasures to spatial disorientation (SD). This includes advanced courseware development and custom courseware delivery based on new SD research findings while assigned to the Naval Survival Training Institute. In his role at the Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, he has been a consultant on suspected SD mishaps, SD and human orientation research collaborator, and most significantly, charged with the delivery and development of the world’s largest disorientation research device.
The Fred A. Hitchcock Award recognizes career contributions of senior aerospace physiologists for excellence in either operational aerospace physiology or aerospace physiology research. The award was established in 1972 and is named in honor of Fred A. Hitchcock, Ph.D., co-translator of Paul Bert’s classic work, “Barometric Pressure.” International ATMO of San Antonio, TX, sponsors the Fred A. Hitchcock Award with an honorarium, a plaque, and an edition of Paul Bert’s classic work, “Barometric Pressure.” The Award committee considers unrecognized nominations from the past 3 years, though it is strongly recommended that nominations be updated annually in writing.