The Otto Lilienthal Medal


This is a "beta" version for testing and comment. The info has all been re-entered by hand, so there are going to be typos.   Please send along any corrections and suggestions for improvement.


Regarded as the highest soaring award in the world, it is given to reward a particularly remarkable sporting performance in gliding or eminent services over a long period of time on behalf of gliding, to a glider pilot who has either, (a) broken an international record during the past year or, (b) made a pioneer flight during the past year (the term ~pioneer flight" is understood to mean a flight which has opened up new possibilities for gliding or has shown the way for fresh progress in the techniques of gliding) or, (c) who during a long period of time has given eminent services to gliding, in the opinion of the General Council of the FAI, and is still an active glider pilot.

( photos courtesy of Hans Nietlispach )

The award was established by the FAI in 1938 in honor of Otto Lilienthal, pioneer glider experimenter and pilot.   Lilienthal's gliding experiments in Germany during the years 1890-1896 demonstrated that human flight was achievable and furnished inspiration and encouragement to Wilbur and Orville Wright.   Otto Lilienthal died in a gliding accident in 1896.   The Lilienthal Medal is made of silver and is 7.5 cm in diameter.   The obverse shows in bas-relief two birds in flight being captured by a man; the reverse bears a wreath and the words Federation Aeronautique Internationale" surrounding a black space on which the year and name of the recipient is engraved.   A Lilienthal Medal is struck each year and becomes the permanent property of the winner.

The award is now made by the General Council of the FAI only upon recommendation of the FAI Gliding Committee (IGC) which received written proposals from the national member clubs of FAI, signed either by the president or vice president of the submitting national aero club.   From the proposals the IGC selects a candidate at one of its meetings to submit to the General Council.   The award is made at the annual FAI General Conference.

The USA's candidate is submitted by the National Aeronautic Association, the US's national member club in the FAI, on the basis of a recommendation from SSA, which is obtained by the SSA Directorate of a recommendation from SSA, which is obtained by the SSA Directorate nominating and then voting on nominees.

Past Recipients of the Lilienthal Medal have been as follows:


? Return to the SSA Awards Table of Contents?


Please contact John Leibacher with any suggestions concerning this material.
Page last updated on

Hosted by Dr. Günther Eichhorn (Pictures from Australia)