Tuesday, February 20, 2007

William Paul Thayer 1919-2010

Paul Thayer was born in 1919 in Henryetta, Oklahoma. He attended high school in Wichita, Kansas and spent a year at Wichita State University. After a year off working in the oil fields as a roughneck, he returned to college at the University of Kansas and enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program to become a pilot. He entered Naval Aviation Cadet Program in mid-1941, receiving his wings and commission in March 1942. He was assigned to Squadron VF-26 flying the Grumman F4F 'Wildcat' and became an ace with 6 confirmed and 4 probable aerial victories and 9 more Japanese aircraft destroyed on the ground. He also shared in the sinking of a Japanese destroyer with 4 other Navy pilots, having fought the good war he resigned from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander.

After 2 years as a TWA transport pilot, he joined Chance Vought Aircraft Company as test pilot in 1948. He was the first pilot to break the sound barrier in a Navy production fighter - the XF7U-1 (1949) and to use the ejection seat when his XF7U-1 (1949) caught fire in flight. Other first's include: first pilot to demonstrate all structural and high Mach Number (MN) limitations of the XF6U-1 (1950), first pilot to demonstrate all structural and high MN limitations of the XF-89 (1951), first pilot to have barrel-rolled a Boeing 737Thayer walked away from six wrecked airplanes and bailed out of one. He rapidly progressed to Chief Test Pilot in 1949, Flight Test Director, Vice President of Sales in 1951 and finally Company President in 1961.
In 1970, the parent LTV Corporation fell into deep financial distress and Paul was called upon to tackle the biggest challenge of his career, saving the corporation. And save it he did! Facing down the major creditor and energizing every element of the organization, he not only brought the firm into the black but set new records for sales and re-established LTV as a major player in the industry.
With the corporation in sound shape, he accepted the invitation of President Reagan to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense. He was sworn in on 12 January 1983 and served with distinction.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

James R 'Ron' Mecklin 1931-

Ron Mecklin joined the USAF in 1954 and flew helicopters for 6 of those years--mostly the H-21B helicopter in Tennessee, Hokkaido Island, Japan; in Okinawa flying to radar sites and then in Cape Cod, Mass flying out to Texas Tower radar sites off shore. He served as a Maintenance Test Pilot for the unit's H-21Bs for almost 3 years.
He joined Boeing Helicopters in 1961 and started flying the twin turbine powered Vertol-107 series and served as co-pilot on the initial test flight of the HRB-1 which subsequently became the CH-46A. He flew this aircraft throughout its developmental program doing performance testing, stress and motion testing and structural demonstrations. He eventually became the CH-46 Project Test Pilot and participated in the development of the CH-46 D and E models.
In the latter '60's when the test phase of the H-46 series wound down, he started flying the Model 347--a stretched CH-47 which eventually had a tilt wing installed. This wing was installed and had a 'g' sensitive flap system that deployed flap to off-load the rotor system while manoeuvring.
In 1971, he headed up a flight demonstration of a modified AFCS [automated flight control system] to the Japanese Self Defence Force in Japan and then went to Singapore to arrange a demo program for their armed forces. He came back after 5 months in the Far East to continue a flight demonstration of the Model 347 to Pentagon officials that had begun while he was away. He continued flying the CH-47C in the early '70 and spent several months in Spain training Spanish Army pilots to fly their newly acquired Chinooks.
In 1974, he went to Long Island, NY to participate in the UTTAS competition. Boeing's entry was the YUH-61. He flew the strain survey and in the structural demonstration of that a/c and then went on to train US Army pilots in the a/c at Ft Rucker, AL and Ft Campbell, KY.
In the late '70's, he was involved in the flight testing of composite rotor blades for the the CH-47 and later on for the CH-46 helicopters. At this time, he was also designated as the Chinook Project Test Pilot.
He flew the first CH-47D on its initial flight and during the flight qualification trials--concentrating on the stress and motion program and structural demonstration. The next several years he was involved training US Army pilots to fly the D model and continue working systems' refinement.
In the early '80's, he got involved with the RAF's HC-Mk1 program and followed the qualification program with training the Boscombe Down Test Pilots and initial group of instructors in RAF 240 Squadron at RAF Odiham.
In 1985, he got involved with Special Operations where they were in the process of modifying several Chinooks with a Rockwell Collins integrated cockpit and flight control system. This system allowed the coupling of the flight controls to various navigation systems including GPS. This configuration eventually became known as the MH-47D. In addition to this program, he spent several months in Taiwan training their army pilots to fly their newly acquired BV Model 234s.
In the later '80's he was involved with the Boeing Model 360 and became the Project Test Pilot for this developmental program that used composite materials for most of the a/c--fuselage, rotor hubs, rotor blades, aft vertical rotor shaft and a new integrated Bendix cockpit display system that used CRT displays for ALL functions]
In 1989, he was involved in the RAF's new version of the Chinook called the HC-MkII. He flew the qualification program here at Boeing and then trained the Boscombe Down pilots in the new configuration and then went to RAF Odiham to train the 240 Squadron instructor pilots in the MkII.
In the early '90's he was involved in a classified program that required three pilots at Boeing Helicopters to qualify in the AH-64 Apache. The last developmental program he was involved in was the Special Operations Model MH-47E. He flew the initial flight and was involved in most of the developmental flight program for that aircraft.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nicholas 'Nick' D.Lappos

Maiden flight of the Sikorsky S-76

Currently - Bell Helicopter, Textron - Senior Vice President, XworX. Responsible for the initial design of new products, internal research and development and rapid prototyping.
2005 to 2008 - Gulfstream AerospaceCorp
Vice President - Government Programs
Responsible for the organization that contracts, designs, produces, delivers and maintains Gulfstream jets to meet various Special Mission requirements to governments worldwide.

1973 to 2005 - Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation- 2000 to 2005 - Program Manager - S-92 Program during its development, certification and introduction into production. During that time, the National Aeronautic Association awarded the S-92 Industry Team the Robert J. Collier Trophy in 2002.

1999 to 2000 - Director of Test Engineering - director of the Flight Test Development Center at West Palm Beach, FL

1974 to 1999 - Assistant Chief Pilot, Chief Research and Development Test Pilot, Chief Program Pilot - S-76
Test Pilot for Sikorsky for over 27 years, and has flown over 70 different helicopter types. Over 7,500 hours flight time, Chief R&D test pilot for over 12 years. Former DER flight test pilot, member of several NASA, AHS, FAA and AGARD Committees and working groups. Participated in the development of the S76, UH-60, RAH-66, ABC, Fantail, Shadow, Fly-by-wire demonstrator, CH-53E, S92.
1973 to 1974 - Flight Test Engineer

Nick Lappos graduated as a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1973. Honors include Dean's List, Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Gamma Tau. Elected to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of Georgia Tech in 2004.
Fellow of the American Helicopter Society as well as Frederick Feinberg Award as most outstanding pilot. Society of Experimental Test Pilots Tenhoff Award, 1988. Holds 16 U.S. patents and three FAI world speed records. Authored numerous technical papers for the American Helicopter Society, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the SAE. Written articles for magazines such as "Rotor and Wing," "Interavia," and has a regular column in "HeliOps Magazine." Appeared on several television shows on the History and Discovery channels.

US Army Vietnam veteran, flew Cobra attack helicopters for over 900 combat hours. Awarded the Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam’s Cross of Gallantry.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Heinz Erwin Frick AFC MRAeS 1940-

Heinz Frick was born in Switzerland and moved to England at the age of 12. He joined the RAF in 1959 and after flying training on Jet Provost and Vampire T11 was posted to 20sqn in Singapore flying Hunter FGA Mk9.
In 1965 after attending the Lightning OCU,he was posted to 74Sqn based at RAF Leuchars before moving to 5Sqn as an Interceptor Weapons Instructor. After graduating from the Empire Test Pilots School he was transferred to the Fighter Test Squadron at Boscombe Down participating in the testing of Lightning,Harrier,Jaguar and Phantom. Heinz was prsented with an Air Force Cross by the Queen for his test flying over a 4 year period.
He left the RAF in 1972 to join Rolls Royce as an engine test pilot flying most aircraft that were powered by Rolls Royce engines,including helicopters.
In 1978 he joined the team at Dunsfolf,developing the Harrier and Hawk and participating in overseas demonstrations and sisplays of both Hawk and Harrier. He was promoted to Deputy Chief Test Pilot in 1986 and Chief Test Pilot in 1988. Whilst at Dunsfold, Heinz invented the revolutionry SkyHook system, a system to allow Harrier to operate from smaller ships.Forced to retire at age 50 he pursued a career in Civil Aviation.
Heinz was awarded the R.P.Alston and Derry and Richards memorial medals for his services to test flying.He currently still holds two world time to height records achieved in Harrier GR5.