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.