From AMS Glossary
The pair of reactions O + N2 → NO + N and N + O2 → NO + O were first proposed by Russian scientist Y. B. Zeldovich in 1947. The reactions are thought to account for much of the active nitrogen formed in hot exhaust gases from combustion sources and following the rapid heating of the air during lightning discharges.
Zeldovich, Y. B., P. Y. Sadonikov, and D. A. Frank-Kamenetskii 1947. Oxidation of nitrogen in combustion (M. Shelef, Transl.). Acad. Sci. USSR. Inst. Chem. Phys., Moscow–Leningrad..