MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Lab marks 75 years of aviation progress

MSU officials cut a ribbon to commemorate the unveiling of Raspet Flight Research Lab’s recently upgraded office space. Pictured, from left, are Raspet Assistant Director Edward McGinnis, MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan, Appalachian Regional Commission Mississippi Director Andrea Rose, MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Raspet Director Rob Premo, and Raspet Aviation Research Engineer Brady Swann. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Seventy-five years ago, August “Gus” Raspet arrived at Mississippi State University to bring a vision of aerospace research that pushed the limits of possibilities in flight.

On Tuesday [March 19], over 100 individuals gathered to honor the enduring success of that vision as MSU celebrated the 75th anniversary of Raspet Flight Research Lab.

“This university is a key research center for developing the technologies of the future,” stated MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “The work conducted here at the Raspet Flight Research Lab will have a significant impact not only on our state but also on our nation and the world. It all stems from Dr. Gus Raspet’s vision for what Mississippi State could contribute to the then-emerging field of aviation. We have continued to build on that legacy over the years, and we will keep building on it.”

In a video message, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves expressed gratitude to Raspet staff for their contributions in establishing Mississippi as a leader in the aerospace sector.

“Raspet has a remarkable history of pioneering research, and its accomplishments have played a crucial role in positioning Mississippi among the top five states in aerospace and defense,” Reeves remarked. “Since 2020, the industry has brought in over $750 million in new capital investments and created over 4,300 high-tech jobs in Mississippi.”

Notable milestones in Raspet’s history include the 1965 development of the world’s first all-composite aircraft with a turboprop, the production and assembly of the Honda MH-02, the world’s first all-composite business jet, as well as significant designations and collaborations with organizations such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Presently, Raspet houses the largest fleet of uncrewed aircraft systems in U.S. academia and is a key player in MSU-led initiatives to integrate UAS into the national airspace safely, facilitating the advancement of UAS benefits in critical sectors like emergency response, healthcare, science, and commerce.

Julie Jordan, MSU’s vice president for Research and Economic Development, highlighted how MSU’s interdisciplinary research teams collaborate to develop innovative solutions to challenges faced by government and industry partners. She also emphasized that while Raspet tackles current issues, the lab provides research opportunities for students and leads outreach programs for K-12 students to inspire the next generation.

“Over the past year, more than 1,800 guests visited this facility, including approximately 700 sixth and seventh graders from Partnership Middle School, situated on the MSU campus,” Jordan mentioned. “We aim to spark their curiosity about the future and make them aware of the opportunities available right here in their community, whether they choose to pursue careers as pilots, engineers, flight technicians, or any other field.”

The celebration on Tuesday featured the inauguration of Raspet’s newly upgraded office space, which was enlarged to accommodate the lab’s expanding staff. The renovation was supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

MSU officials honored Gus Raspet’s family members during the event, including his late son Richard Raspet, who passed away in November. Richard’s wife, Wendy Jean Garrison, accepted a commemorative cowbell on behalf of the family.

Mississippi State University prioritizes what is important. Find out more at www.msstate.edu.

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