James A. Korkowski

James A. Korkowski

James A. Korkowski was born and raised in Rantoul. After graduation from Rantoul High School in 1966, where he had been a member of the National Honor Society, he attended the University of Illinois. There he received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics, with honors, and then a Master's in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

After graduation he was employed for two years by IBM to do marketing and marketing support of their mainframe computer systems. IBM also assigned Jim to work on the design and development of a comprehensive intergrated management information system for the University of Illinois.

His career in flying began with a course in soaring in college. Thereafter, as a member of the Illinois National Guard, he graduated from flight training and ultimately became an F-4 fighter pilot. He flew propeller, turboprop, and jet aircraft for the Federal Aviation Administration in Alaska for several years. He then worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, flying T-38s, turboprop and jet passenger planes, shuttle training aircraft, WB-57F weather reconnaisance aircraft, and the Super Guppy cargo transport.

Following Korkowski's death from cancer in 1986, NASA established the James A. Korkowski Excellence in Achievement Award. It is given to deserving NASA employees annually.

Visit the James A. Korkowski Aerospace Memorial Collection exhibited at the Rantoul Public Library.