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Mr. McDonnell was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1967. He served on many community, state, and national committees. He was a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; the Industry Advisory Council of the Department of Defense; President Nixon's Aviation Advisory Committee; the National Alliance of Businessmen; President Johnson's Citizens' Committee; and the Atlantic Council of the United States, to name a few. He actively served on the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, Washington University, and Washington University Medical School and Associated Hospitals, among others.
He was the recipient of six honorary degrees and many honors and awards, including the 1963 Daniel Guggenheim Medal, the 1966 Collier Trophy, the 1972 Forrestal Memorial Award, and the 1980 National Academy of Sciences Hunsaker Award. He was an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society and an Enshrinee in the Aviation Hall of Fame.