Friday, February 17, 2006

John M 'Fitz' Fitzpatrick 1924-2013

First flight of the Convair F-106B at Edwards AFB on 10th April 1958 by John Fitzpatrick

As an Air Force Pilot, John Fitzpatrick flew the XF-88B Evaluation flights at Lambert Field,MO June-July 1953. He is the only person to have flown supersonic in a propeller 'equipped' aircraft . John Fitzpatrick flew the first Mach 2 flight of the Convair F-106B.

John Fitzpatrick crash landed this F-84E on the Alcan Highway in the Yukon Territory after an engine failure enroute to Alaska for cold weather tests in January 1950. The temperature was 53 degrees below zero F.

John M. “Fitz” Fitzpatrick was born on the 12th January 1924 in New York and passed away on 23 March 2013 at the age of 89.Fitz was a Charter Member of SETP and became a Fellow in 1961.

Fitz attended Georgetown University for two years and entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1942. Following graduation in 1945, he received Air Force pilot training.  He then went through fighter transition and spent two and a half years as a fighter pilot in the 78th and 86th Groups in Germany. 

When he returned to the States in 1948, he requested and was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field and entered Flight Test.  For the next five and a half years, he participated in the flight testing of all Air Force fighter aircraft.  He also graduated from what was then the AMC Flight Performance School at Patterson Field.  In the fall of 1953, he submitted his resignation from the Air Force because “they were running out of bedrooms in Wherry Housing.”

Fitz joined Convair as an Engineering Test Pilot at the start of the F-102 program and participated in all phases of the F-102 and F-106 development.  At the latter portion of the program, he was Chief Engineering Pilot and was Chairman of the Operations Committee of the joint Air Force – Convair-Hughes armament development program.  When Convair-San Diego ran out of fighters, he became Project Pilot on the 990 jet transport. He made the first flights on three aircraft:- Convair F-106B, Convair F-106C and Convair 990 Coronado. In 1962 he transferred to the General Dynamics Corporate office and shortly thereafter was assigned to Washington D.C.  Three months later Fitz was appointed Manager of the General Dynamics Houston office.  He packed up his wife, Pat, and six children and moved for the seventh time in nine years.  In 1967 he was transferred to the General Dynamics Washington office as manager of Space Systems and Ballistic Missiles.  He was then made Director, Aerospace Systems for General Dynamics.