I was born in April 1955 and raised in the Southern California 1950s-60s military aerospace scene; my parents met whilst doing engineering and proposal writing for the F-86D Sabre and F-100A Super-Sabre programs at North American Aviation, Inc.'s Los Angeles Division. Despite building all the Harvards and Mustangs and Mitchells during the 1940's et al, NAA still felt like a small shop in the mid-1950's. My parents rubbed shoulders with and drank alongside many of the luminaries in design and Flight Test -- great days and nights. My mom left in 1955 to go raise seven of us kids; my dad stayed on at NAA and then Hughes and finally Northrop for a 40 year career in aerospace.
Some of my earliest memories are of learning about airplanes at night alongside my father at his desk in his little office just off from the kitchen. Together we'd pore over photos and drawings from the X-15, and the XB-70, and the F-108, SST, and F-15 proposal projects. Hunched over his shoulder, his cigarette burning holes in my retinas and I couldn't have been happier. What's more, I believe the first airplane I ever saw in-person (and touched!) was the X-15!
By the mid-1960's my younger brothers and I were building models, reading the magazines religiously and thanks to NAA's interest in employee morale :-), several times we got to visit the high desert heaven of Edwards AFB and see the XB-70, YF-12A, B-52, B-58, F-104, and other classics fly, and see and touch them up-close out on the ramp. And meanwhile two of my uncles and a next door neighbor were active duty career military pilots. It all was a huge influence on us as typical "Cold War kids".
And in many ways we learned about reading, writing, and "grownups" via the pages of the model building magazines of the 1960's. Free-flight, control-line and by 1970 we were flying R/C models -- great days with my younger brother Arthur and our friends in the neighborhood, learning to slope-soar along the shoreline in Pacific Palisades and Malibu.
Last online: 04/07/2020 19:01:47
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