Release #07.041J
August 8, 2007

ALPA Posthumously Recognizes the Accomplishments of United Captain Harry Orlady
Former Los Gatos, California Pilot Improved Aviation Safety through Human Factor Studies

WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) will posthumously recognize United Airlines Capt. Harry Orlady with a 2007 Presidential Citation Award, the Association’s honor for outstanding work in aviation safety, for his lifelong passion to, in his words, “make the system better for the people who use it.” This award will be presented to his wife, Ellen Orlady, also of Los Gatos, California, on August 9 at ALPA’s 53rd Annual Air Safety & Security Week and Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C.

“Capt. Orlady pioneered the area of aeromedical research and aviation human factors and founded ALPA’s Aeromedical Committee, which conducts and coordinates medical research to enhance the physical and psychological well-being of our pilots,” said ALPA President, Capt. John Prater. “During his years of advocacy, he delivered more than 100 papers and presentations, and conducted multiple studies on medical disabilities and pilot incapacitation. And today, we’re recognizing all that he gave back to the aviation community.”

Capt. Orlady worked fulltime on United Airline’s “Project Update,” a pioneering study that introduced many training innovations; was the originator and principal developer of United’s Flight Safety Awareness Program, the first formalized and effective non-punitive incident reporting system—similar to the modern day Aviation Safety Action Program; and was a key figure in the development of United’s pilot incapacitation research. The “Two-Communication Rule,” developed from this program, is still used by most air carriers worldwide today.

“In today's world, it has become trite or commonplace to say that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, but in the case of Captain Harry Orlady, nothing could be closer to the truth,” said ALPA Aeromedical Committee Chairman Capt. Jeff Kilmer. “Harry's work laid the foundation for a program that today sets the standard for aeromedical research and the protection of airman’s medical rights. He was a true pioneer of our profession.”

Capt. Orlady was a second generation pilot, following his father who was a pilot in the Signal Corps and Air Force. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver. He began training in the Civil Pilot Training Program in 1939, soloing in an Aeronca LA. United Airlines hired him in 1941, and over 39 years, he flew as captain in eight different aircraft from the DC-3 to the B-747.

He was active in ALPA, as well, serving multiple terms on the Negotiating Committee, System Board, and as Chair of Council 12. He also participated in many other aviation organizations, including the Aerospace Medical Association, the Aerospace Human Factors Association, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society, and the Association of Aviation Psychologists.

Founded in 1931, ALPA represents more than 60,000 pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at for more information.

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CONTACT: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, (703) 481-4440