Newsmakers: Final flights
Glenn Maben & Nathan Forrest
On July 25 Glenn Maben, 53, director of flight operations for Spectrum Aeronautical, and vice director Nathan Forrest, 25, were killed when the company’s Spectrum 33 prototype crashed on the side of the runway while taking off from Spanish Fork Airport, Utah. The scheduled routine test flight entered a roll and immediately pinwheeled when the right wing hit the ground. Investigators eventually determined the cause to be misconnected controls.
Maben was born in Stamford, N.Y., in July 1953 and spent his entire life around airplanes. He held a B.A. in aerospace engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University at Fresno. Early in his career he was with Grumman Aircraft Systems as a flight-test engineer before moving on to Voyager Aircraft in Mojave, Calif., as a mechanic, flight-test engineer and chase pilot.
He later became a NASA Dryden contract engineer, involved in designing composite structures for test aircraft. In 1987 Maben took the position of project engineer, flight-test engineer and chase pilot for Scaled Composites. In 1996 he became a research associate/test pilot and visiting lecturer for the Department of Aviation Sciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and went on to work with Adam Aircraft in 2002. Maben is survived by his wife, Taunchy, and three daughters.
Forrest graduated magna cum laude from Wichita State University in 2003, where he earned a degree in aerospace engineering. Scott Miller, chairman of aerospace engineering at Wichita State University, called him one of the “sharpest pilots” he had taught and recommended him for the test-pilot job at Adam Aircraft, where he met Maben.
Alan Conklin, cofounder of aviation research and consulting firm Conklin & de Decker, died on November 3. Before cofounding the company with Bill de Decker in 1989, Conklin was parts manager for Robinson Aircraft at Teterboro Airport; King Air salesman for Atlantic Aviation; Falcon salesman for AiResearch; and national sales manager for Pan Am Business Jets. Conklin sold Falcons with AiResearch out of the Pan Am Business Jets offices at Teterboro. It was at Pan Am Business Jets that Conklin and de Decker met and created a set of operating costs and performance values for Falcons, which later became known as the Aircraft Cost Evaluator. Conklin also served as a member of the NBAA operations committee.
Don Baldwin Sr.
Don Baldwin Sr. died on November 3 at the age of 88. A former member of the NBAA board, Baldwin also served as head of Texaco’s flight department. During his tenure on the NBAA board, Baldwin was an outspoken advocate for the need for standardized data on the operational costs of business aircraft and for realistic operating range information, and he spearheaded efforts that resulted in the NBAA cost and range formats. He further helped establish a program to measure aircraft noise, the results of which were published in NBAA’s “Recommended Noise Abatement Procedures.” Baldwin’s son, Don, followed his father into a career as a corporate pilot, and also served as president of NBAA.
Steve O’Neill and Rick Voorhis
Cessna regional sales manager Steve O’Neill and Pacific Aircraft Sales president Rick Voorhis were killed March 28, 2006, in the crash of a Cessna-owned 208 Caravan. The turboprop single descended into mountainous terrain at about 7 p.m. while maneuvering near Oak Glen, Calif., about 25 miles west of Palm Springs. IMC prevailed, and an IFR flight plan had been filed. It had not been activated. The flight departed Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, Calif., at about 4:30 p.m. with a planned destination of Ontario International Airport, Ontario, Calif. The NTSB is still investigating.
Jack DeCrane, founder and former CEO of DeCrane Aircraft Holdings, died Dec. 29, 2005, at age 59, of complications from lung cancer. The Ohio native started the company in the basement of his home with the idea of creating a “one-stop shop” for aircraft interior components. Under his leadership, DeCrane Aircraft acquired companies offering everything from seats and cabin furniture to entertainment systems and auxiliary fuel tank systems. Along the way, DeCrane Aircraft evolved into a completion and refurbishment giant with annual revenues in the $500 million range.
Hugh Boyd, 54, died while on vacation with his family on February 12. At the time of his death, he was chief pilot for ChevronTexaco. After serving as a pilot and chief of maintenance for several private and charter business jet operations, in 1989 Boyd joined Chevron as a copilot. He was named chief pilot in 2002.
There is something doubly sad about the news when the man who in 1953 was the first to fly at Mach 2 comes to grief in a hazard as workaday as a thunderstorm, but that is thought to be how 84-year-old Scott Crossfield met his maker on April 19 last year. The legendary test pilot, perhaps best remembered for his many flights in the X-15, was flying his Cessna 210 in Georgia at the time. Beyond his piloting abilities, Crossfield is also remembered as an engineer, aerodynamicist and designer who played an important role in making the Apollo spacecraft as reliable as they were. His X-15 flying paved the way for the space shuttle.
Stanley Hiller Jr.
Stanley Hiller Jr., a pioneer in vertical flight and founder of the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, Calif., died April 20 at the age of 81 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Hiller led a company that produced thousands of helicopters for military and commercial markets worldwide. At 78, Hiller was awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s 2002 National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Lifetime Achievement.
Frank Lanza made a name for himself as one of the defense industry’s most aggressive acquirers. After cofounding L-3 Communications as a spinoff of Lockheed Martin in 1997, Lanza quickly added more than 80 companies to the portfolio. At one time a candidate to become chief executive at Lockheed, he was a boss who involved himself in the details of even the smallest acquisition. Notable purchases in aviation included Honeywell’s TCAS business, which L-3 and Thales own jointly as ACSS, and Goodrich’s avionics division, renamed L-3 Avionics Systems. Lanza died suddenly on June 6 while recovering from throat surgery. He was 74.
George J. Priester, who transformed Palwaukee Airport from a small 1930s grass strip into one of the dominant business aviation airports in the nation, died August 29 at age 98. Priester took his first airplane ride in 1928 and by 1938 was a flight instructor, opening his own flight school when World War II broke out. He purchased Palwaukee Airport in the early 1950s and was one of the first operators of the Learjet. Priester Aviation, one of the largest aircraft charter companies in the U.S., still bears his name.
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) lost one of its founding fathers and a past CEO on June 15 when Joseph Seward succumbed in a lengthy battle with throat cancer. Seward, who received his helicopter rating in 1947 while on leave from the Navy, became one of the first commercial helicopter pilots in the U.S.
Seward’s helicopter career encompassed crop dusting, flying U.S. Forest Service reconnaissance flights, transporting camera crews for numerous motion pictures and operating Bell 47Gs and Sikorsky S-55s offshore from Grand Isle, La. He was also a co-founder of Era Helicopters.
In 1948 he was instrumental in forming the California Helicopter Association, which later became the Helicopter Association of America (HAA) and then HAI. Seward chaired the organizational meeting and in 1954 was elected president of HAA.
The helicopter industry lost a longtime advocate with the passing of William B. “Rusty” Rowe on April 8 after a lengthy illness. The former president and chairman of HAI was born on Dec. 20, 1924, in Vivian, Miss., and served as a Seabee in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946.
Rowe received his pilot’s license in 1947 and began flying crop dusters. He and Otto Campbell began Campbell Air Service in Vivian, where he became president and sole owner after his partner was killed in an accident. In the late 1970s, Rowe became an independent oil producer in the Vivian area until his retirement in 2000.
Rowe served as HAI’s president in 1974, chairman of the board in 1975 and 1976, and subsequently became a lifetime member of the HAI board of directors.
Playing on a Major League roster alongside stars like Derek Jeter and A-Rod, New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle wasn’t quite a household name. That changed on October 11 when Lidle, 34, and flight instructor Tyler Stanger, 26, crashed Lidle’s Cirrus SR20 into a high-rise apartment, touching off a blaze that sent a pillar of gray smoke into the sky. Investigators blamed the crash on pilot error and an easterly breeze that made it nearly impossible for the airplane to complete its turn in the airspace available.
Business aircraft sales professional Hal Spragins died January 16 after a brief illness. Spragins teamed with Pat Epps in 1996 to cofound Pilatus Center South/Epps Aviation in Atlanta to service Pilatus PC-12s. Spragins began his career with Beech Aircraft dealer Southern Airways, which later became Hangar One. As president of the Hangar One FBO chain, Spragins was instrumental in opening numerous FBOs in Florida. He led FBO Memphis Aero to become a top Piper Cheyenne dealer.
Gerard Guillaumaud, chief test pilot at Grob Aerospace, died November 29 when the airplane he was demonstrating, Grob’s utility jet, crashed shortly after takeoff from the manufacturer’s facility. Guillaumaud, 45, had flown about 260 hours on the SPn type.
A former pilot for the French air force, Guillaumaud had also been involved in experimental flight-test for Adam Aircraft, HP Aircraft and Diamond Aircraft.
Leonard Greene, who established Safe Flight Instrument in White Plains, N.Y., in 1946, to develop and market his aviation-related inventions, died on November 30 in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 88. (See also page 92.)