1 Day Programs For 1 Year Old In Los Angeles Aerospace, Post WW II – Greatest Half-Century of Achievement – And North American Aviation’s Role!

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Aerospace, Post WW II – Greatest Half-Century of Achievement – And North American Aviation’s Role!

Among the handful of aerospace companies born out of World War II, North American Aviation (later the aircraft division of Rockwell International. Corp.) soon became one of the pioneers of the emerging aircraft industry. Other prominent US companies included Lockheed Aircraft, Grumman Aircraft, etc. But after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, Class of ’43 (3.93 GPA, Honor Man of All Departments), I was offered and accepted a North American position as a stress analyst” B” ($1.01 per hour) at its Los Angeles plant.

In the final years of World War II, North American had produced the P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft for England; its superior speed and performance quickly achieves a 10:1 kill ratio against German fighters; Then, shortly after, the NAA produced the first jet fighter, the F-86. Working together with other specialized design teams: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, load analysis, dynamics, etc. and constantly focusing on increasing performance and reducing weight. Design, stress, and material/process groups began to investigate structural weight minimization using strength-to-density materials (aluminum, steel, magnesium, titanium) and more efficient structural concepts (e.g., sandwich assemblies). Fueling NAA’s group-team optimization approach, the US Aerospace Technology Conferences were held to showcase technological advances in all fields, and NAA participated enthusiastically. (In my tenth year, I earned an MS, Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Southern California, night school – I had also progressed through the years – my rank was now Director of Structural Sciences.)

A noteworthy achievement in North America was the first supersonic aircraft, the Mach 1 F-100. This technology soon gave birth to the first supersonic training aircraft, the T-28. (Note: An interesting personal anecdote developed from that program – a major accident occurred while working on the lower main arm deck – which carries the heaviest load on the aircraft. As construction manager, I had approved the repair. Months later, the Chief Engineer called me: “Remember that T-28 fairing joint you signed off on – well , there’s an Air Force captain who says he wants a d-mn engineer who approved it sitting in front of him when he pulls max Gs!” He waited a few seconds, then added, “I hope you’re sure of your analysis – you’re flying his to the airport tomorrow morning!”

It was exciting, but it turned out well: there was a jeep and two enlisted men waiting for me when my plane landed; I was immediately taken to the airport; A no-nonsense 25-year-old captain shook my hand, mumbled a greeting, told his man to attach a parachute to my work suit; and helped me climb into the T-28. He joked, “You know you trust your analysis with your life!” (Note: Mach 1 was exciting, as was max G pull. Spar deck repair and wing held up. We landed safely. Captain bought me a drink.)

In the aftermath of World War II and its eventual emphasis on nuclear bombs, the US Department of Defense had decided to expand its nuclear power using the US Navy – it solicited proposals to build a medium-sized bomber that could be launched by catapult and stopped. -hook landed on an aircraft carrier – while carrying an A-bomb. Several months later he called to tell us we had won. “Oh, by the way,” he added, “be prepared, your friends will tell you that the FBI has been asking you some very personal questions!” A moment later he explained, “You and I are going to get the Q clearances with Top Secret – if the NAA builds a bomber that carries the A-bomb, someone has to tell us what it weighs and where. to grab it!”

Although the X-15’s hypersonic performance greatly eclipsed the B-70’s Mach 3 speed and altitude, NAA’s B-70 technology had a major impact on my later career. On the international stage of commercial aviation, England and France had decided to pool their aviation technology and finance – to beat the US – and build a Mach 2 jet, the Concorde. Unfortunately, there had been a glitch in the program, in the rear engine and the reverse thrust structure. However, there were enterprising risk-takers in the French and English setback who saw it as an opportunity. One such person was Leopold S, Wyler, CEO of a small but successful NYSE (TRE Corp.) company that produces locking devices for homes and has a small division with a patented aerospace-style structural sandwich; He was born in France, but had a solid knowledge of the NAA’s B-70, and made two separate but conditional offers: – the first was to the French and British – that his company would finance the redesign and construction of a structural test unit, which – if it achieved weight- and performance targets, would win him the contract to produce these Concorde structures. His second offer was to me (he had asked the Stresskin Div. President to find out who was in charge of the B-70 structure). The offer was to hire me and a dozen of my NAA B-70 engineers; give us 30% raises to leave NAA and join him – if we could produce a test unit in a year. In retrospect, it was remarkable: all the dozen in NAA joined me (all moved to Orange County); Wyler built a large new factory; we ended up hiring many more ex-NAA employees – and produced all the Concorde production builds.

Just like my “late-career” involvement in Concorde a dozen years earlier, my “late-career” involvement in NASA’s space shuttle program was sparked by a memory in North American aviation—the still-remembered voice of my previous NAA senior program manager, Charlie XXXX, now head of Rockwell’s Space Division. “I need you – or someone like you – for my shuttle program. Come tomorrow – I’ll give you a job.” (See Ezine Article: “NASA’s Space Shuttle Secret – Painstaking Pursuit of Perfection – Tiles!”)

I saw Charlie the next day, he offered and I accepted the assistant manager position. for Rockwell’s space shuttle program. Having always wanted to be a part of a NASA space project, I found the long hours and frequent travel very gratifying. Finally, NASA conducted the first FRR (Flight Readiness Review) – I was very happy when NASA asked me to present a detailed briefing to the Administrator (NASA’s highest official who reports to the President of the United States). After three successful flights and three years, I left the program and NAA Rockwell and returned to Wyler’s TRE. In 1982 I was awarded the NASA Public Service Award and Medal.

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