Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nello L.Infanti 1921-2010

Nello Infanti was born December 23, 1921 in Fiume Veneto, Italy. In 1930, his family emigrated to Buffalo, N.Y. Through the challenges of being an immigrant in the United States, during the Great Depression, Nello persevered, attending Technical High School majoring in Architecture. He was a multi-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, track and tennis), being most proud of his baseball success over Warren Spahn, posting a career batting average of .667 against the future baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.Upon graduation from Tech in 1939, Nello worked briefly for Bell Aircraft and Curtis – Wright before enlisting in the Army in 1942 to pursue his dream of flying. In 1943, he graduated from combat flight school as a fighter pilot and was deployed to the European theater. He was primarily stationed in North Africa, flying over 60 combat missions in a P-38 fighter-bomber in Southern Italy, Europe, Africa and Russia, most against the German Luftwaffe. He returned to the U.S. in 1945, spending one year as an Army Aircorps flight instructor. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Seven Oak Leaf Clusters for his exceptional service to our country and with four confirmed "kills" was one confirmed "kill" from being designated an "Ace".In May of 1946, Nello went to work for Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory and in 1947 married the love of his life and childhood sweetheart Louise (Belluz). From 1948 through 1951, he attended Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and received his Aeronautical Engineering Degree in 1951. He continued his education in mathematics and physics, accumulating over 30 post graduate credits at the University of Buffalo.Nello also successfully completed a two-year college course, in six months, at Edwards Air Force Base, receiving a very rare degree, for a civilian, awarded by the United States Air Force, in "Flight Techniques and Engineering Principles of Experimental Testing".From 1952 through 1958 Nello continued to serve his country in the Air Force Reserve as a Squadron Commander for a jet fighter – bomber wing.Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (later called Calspan) was where Nello pursued his passion and excelled during his 40-year career there, retiring in 1987. He became the Company's Chief Test Pilot in 1963 and accumulated over 9,000 hours of flight test time, while flying over 100 types of aircraft. He made first flights, and subsequent developmental flights on many cutting edge and highly classified research programs. Most of the testing was done in four extensively modified and highly sophisticated in-flight simulators:• The C-131H Total In-Flight Simulator (TIFS) which was the training vehicle for the Space Shuttle pilots (he actually trained astronauts such as Cols. Hank Hartsfield, Gordon Fullerton, Joseph Engle, John Young and others) as well as the B-1 Bomber, C-5 and the Concorde• NT-33A fighter simulator, which was the training vehicle for the famous X-15 program• The X-22A variable stability take-off and landing aircraft • The LearjetHe flew extensive development flights in six other variable stability simulators: F-94, Jet Star B-26, C-45, and two helicopters. Nello also flew the first IFR flight in TIFS with an experimental Fiber Optics control System believed to be an aviation FIRST.In all, Nello accumulated over 12,000 hours of total flying time of which approximately 2200 hours were in jets. He was supersonic rated right up to the time of his retirement.A long time member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and in October of 1977, Nello was designated a Fellow, one of only 85 out of the Society's 1,450 members. Included in this illustrious and very exclusive peer group of Fellows were Astronauts and giants of aviation history such as Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yaeger, Scott Crossfield, Deke Slayton, Alan Shepard and Bob White, to name a few, most of whom were considered friends. Nello was always active in organizations in which he believed. He continued his affiliation with his alma mater – RPI by serving on numerous committees, receiving recognition "for his many years of service as - Secondary School and Alumni Scholarship Programs Coordinator". He was a past President of the Aero Club of Buffalo and a member of QB (Quiet Birdman) Buffalo Hangar, Silver Wings and was a Deputy Sheriff in the Erie County Aviation Reserve Division. Nello is also an inductee in two Halls of Fame:• The Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall of Fame• The Western New York Softball Hall of Fame