Wednesday, May 16, 2012
XP-81 first flight by Frank Davis
Frank Wilbur Davis was born in Charleston, West Virginia on 6 December 1914,after graduating from the California Institute of Technology in 1936, Mr. Davis served the next four years as a Marine Corps pilot. He joined Convair’s Vultee Field Division at Downey, California in 1940. He was chief of aerodynamics and flight test and also served as assistant chief engineer. It was at Vultee Field that Mr. Davis became the first pilot in the USA to fly a turbo-prop-powered airplane - Convair’s experimental XP-81 fighter, developed for the United States Air Force in 1945. He also flight tested the following aircraft types:- BT-13,BT-15,P-66,XP-54,XP-81,XA-41,A-31 and A-35.
In 1947 Mr. Davis became chief design engineer at Convair’s San Diego, California Division, where he was closely identified with the development of the XF-92A, the world’s first delta-wing airplane. He was also involved in the Air Force F-102 supersonic interceptor and several other Convair products. He was named assistant to Convair’s vice president engineering in 1952, working primarily in the field of aircraft and missile research and development. Two years later he became chief engineer at Convair-Fort Worth, and in 1959 was elevated to the position of a division vice president and manager of Convair-Fort Worth.
In 1961, he was named senior vice president of General Dynamics Corporation and president of General Dynamics/Fort Worth. Here he was involved building the United States Air Force B-58 Hustler supersonic jet bomber.
Mr. Davis received many honors in the field of aviation, among them a degree of doctor of science by West Virginia for his contributions to the aeronautical sciences. He was an Associate Fellow in the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences and held membership in American Nuclear Society, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Rocket Society, Board for Industry with the National Society of Professional Engineers, American Ordnance Society, Air Force Association, Ft. Worth Airpower Council, Navy League of US, Association of US Army, and Research ad Scientific Center Committee of Fort Worth. He was also a member of the Power Plant Committee of NACA, and has served as a consultant to the Advisory Panel on Aeronautics in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering. Mr. Davis was selected as an SETP Honorary Fellow in 1965.