Thursday, March 31, 2011

John M. Fritz 1930-


John M. Fritz's example of military service came from his father, Major General Lawrence G. Fritz, USAF Reserves who trained with the Royal Air Force in Britain and flew in WW1 as a US Army Signal Corps Officer. He also served as a fighter, bomber and pursuit pilot before joining Ford Motor Company as a test pilot. He was recalled for WW2 and culminated his military career as Commanding General, North Atlantic Division, Air Transport Command. He later became the Vice President of Operation for American Airlines. John's older brother also served as an Air Force Pilot.


John Fritz took two years of Air Force ROTC at Hopkins and 1.5 years of Army ROTC. Graduating with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in 1952. Fritz was accepted into USAF Flight Training as an aviation cadet. He trained at Columbus AFB,Mississippi and Foster AFB,Texas. In Augsut 1953 he gradated from flight training as 2nd Lieutnant. He then attended Jet Combat Crew Training at Laughlin AFB, Texas and Luke AFB,Arizona.

In December 1953 he reported to 325th Fighter Intercept Squadron, Air Defence Command at Hamilton AFB, California to fly F-86E and F-86D Interceptors. After all weather flight training, he was assigned from July-September 1954 to ferry new F-86D fighter jets from North American Corporaration facilities in California to bases across the United States. He closed out his active duty career in 1956 as 1st Lieutenant with the 325th FIS. He returned to the USAF reserves from 1968-1969 as a troop carrier pilot at March AFB, California, he was honorably discharged as a Captain.

From July 1956 until July 1957, Fritz was a production test pilot for Douglas Aircraft. There he tested the Navy's first supersonic fighter, the F-4D Skyray, and the A4D Skyhawk. From July 1957 until July 1963 Fritz was a General Electric Company Jet Propulsion Engineering test pilot at Edwards AFB,California, where he flew early propulsion tests of the J79 engine, the world's first production mach 2 power plant. He performed critical development tests of the F-104 Starfighter, which was the first US double-sonic producion fighter. In july 1960, he was awarded the Edwards' Fight Safety Award for the first succesful deadstick landing of an F-104 on the 4750ft runway at Mojave MCAS, California. He tested the J79 power plan in several other aircraft, including the XF4D Skyray, F101 Voodoo, F4A Phantom and Grumman's F11F-1F Super Tiger Prototype. He also flew the first General Electric commercial airline engine and the world's first aft-fan engine.


In the early 1960's, Fritz visisted all USAF bases worldwide that were equipped with F104 Starfighters to trainpilots on the new power plant. He later performed the same duty for all countries that purchased the F104 Starfighter throughout Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Pakistan.
In 1962 Fritzwas a finalist in the 2nd NASA Astronaut Selection Process. Although not selected, he cherished the opportunity to train with Gemini and Mercury astronauts such as Neil Armstrong.

From 1963 until 1965, Fritz was a Northrop Test Pilot at Edwards AFB where he tested th T-38 and F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter. He later led and F-5B Operational indoctrination and demonstration team to all T-38 bases in the US,Europe and Middle East. He also flew the first F-5B across the Atlantic Ocean to the Paris Air Show and continued to demonstrate the F-5B to allied countries from Norway to Iran. In 1965, he returned to General Electric as Chief Test Pilot where he continued to develop the J79. Fritz's tests of the advanced J85 power plant in the T-38 Talon led to tes flights of the engine in the B-52 Bomber. These tests spawned the next generation of engines that led to GE's dominance in providing powerplants for the majority of US civil and military aircraft. He then tested a significantly imroved J85-21 power plant in the highly modified YF5B-21 Test Fighter. He also flight tested the TF-39 installed on a B-52; the high-bypass TF-39 fan engine being the engine selected for the Lockheed C-5 transport.

After 4 years in the Air Force and 14 years as a test pilot, Fritz retired from professional flying in June 1969.Continuing with GE, Fritz became the manager of GE's SST Program and Comercial Engines rograms in Washington,DC where he representd GE to he Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and Congress. As an Engineering,Sales and Support Manager, he succesfully representedGE in the USAF C-5 Galaxy program and Boeing 747 program that led to the first USAF Airborne Command Post and Boeing's use of GE engines throughout its fleet of aircraft.
From 1985 until 1992, Fritz was Vice President of GE's Melbourne based Australia Aircraft Engines where he was responsible for marketing and support of all GE engine products in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. Autralian orders included the GE engines in F18A/F Fighters, Sikorsky Seahawk Helicopters, a 'marinized' version of GE's CF6-50 airline for use in Royal Australian Navy frigates, and engines for Australian Airlines and Qantas Airlines. Fritz retired from GE in October 1992.