2005 Fellow

Presented to: Joseph N. Portney

Citation: For his leadership and sustained contributions to the development of inertial navigation systems.


Joseph N. Portney is currently president of Navsense, a navigation consulting company. He retired from Litton Guidance and Control Systems (now Northrop Grumman) in 1998 as a manager of advanced programs and was earlier in engineering management.

His career spanned stellar inertial Doppler navigation development to GPS embedded ring laser inertial navigation systems. He led teams responsible for the design and installation of the inertial navigation systems for Air Force One and C-130A Gunships. He flew as navigator engineer on three historical inertial navigation crossings of the North Pole.

He has inventions/disclosures for a wide latitude solar compass, airborne automatic compass error compensation, stellar tracker jamming and helped conceive the recently introduced airborne hijack prevention system.

He has written numerous papers on navigation and is the author of "Portney's Ponderables," a collection of 25 historical navigational controversies and paradoxes. He created Earthshapes 12, hypothetical earths used in classrooms throughout the world.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. in engineering in 1952 serving as a navigator in the U.S. Air Force until 1960 when he joined Litton.

He has received The ION Weems Award, was president of The ION from 1989-1990 and a trustee of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Society.