Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dieter H. Thomas 1936-2013

Dieter H. Thomas was born on 23 February 1936 and passed away on 13 April 2013.

After 8 years in the German Luftwaffe as a jet and weapon instructor pilot, Mr. Thomas began his study of aeronautical engineering in Munich. In 1963 he attended the French Test Pilot School (EPNER).  From 1964 to 1973 he served as a research test pilot with the German Research and Development Institute for Air `and Space Travel (DFVLR).  During that period, among other duties, he was a test pilot on the Do 31 VTOL-Transport.  In 1973 Mr. Thomas joined the Dornier Company where he worked first as a test pilot and later as Chief Test Pilot until his retirement in February 1989.  During this time he flew the first flights of six different prototypes as pilot in command (Poschel P-300, Do-TST, Do-TNT, Do 228, Do 24 TT, Weigel-Fink) as well as performing three first flights as co-pilot (Do 28 D5-X, Do 28, D6-X).  He also served as Dornier’s project pilot for the Alpha Jet and Do 228 aircraft from first flight on. In 1984 he performed high sea state trials up to sea state 4 with the 3-engine Do 24 TT research amphibian. He also was the pilot responsible for the initial cockpit design for Do 328, 34 passenger commuter airplane.

Since March 1989 Mr. Thomas worked as a free-lance aviation expert, test pilot and flight test consultant. During this time he performed the flight test certification of the Hoffmann H40 2-seat sportplane.  He was responsible for the special certification of Alpha Jets for the Red Bull Company in Austria and civil certification of several warbirds (e. g. YAK-3/YAK-9), reconstructions of M-17 and Me 163 vintage aircraft, the Dornier Seastar and others.  In 1990 Mr. Thomas became the Flight Director for the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Hanover.  From 1992 to 2006 he was the Flight Director/Event Manager for ILA Berlin and was also a Board Member on the European Airshow Council.  He was the Safety and Flight Test consultant for the Oskar Ursinus Vereinigung (OUV), the German association for the promotion and certification of experimental aircraft.  He has published several pilot reports in leading aviation magazines, presented several publications at the Aeronautical Society, and given presentations on the Alpha Jet and Do 24 at meetings of the European Section of SETP.  Mr. Thomas worked with students of aviation and aeronautics at technical schools in Nürnberg, Graz, and Munich during the development of their flight test relevant diploma reports.  He had flown a total of about 7,500 flight hours on about 180 different aircraft types.  He joined SETP in 1968 and became a Fellow in 2007.