Saturday, June 30, 2012

John David “Dave” Driskill 1897-1949

John David “Dave” Driskill was one of the better accomplished of the USA's aviation pioneers. He was, among other things, America’s first licensed helicopter pilot. The fact that Driskill survived hundreds of flights in the Outer Banks, one of America’s windiest and stormiest regions, testifies to his considerable skills. Owing to his many exploits and numerous aviation firsts in the region, Driskill was dubbed the The Re-Discoverer of the Outer Banks. “The Wright Brothers brought aviation to the world, but Dave Driskill brought aviation to the Outer Banks.” There is a pictorial history of Dave Driskill’s career in the Ready Room at North Carolina’s Dare County regional Airport. Driskill went on to distinguish himself as a highly skilled test pilot. He did testing for the Kellett Aircraft Company near Philadelphia. On October 3, 1949, Driskill was testing the XR-10, a helicopter destined to bring air travel to every small town in the world.

During the last flight, Driskill took a technician along as an observer. The XR-10 developed serious rotor problems. Driskill ordered the technician to jump. When he saw his parachute open, Driskill left the cockpit and jumped too. Regrettably, his parachute was snagged by the out of control rotors, and he went down with the XR-10. Not long after Driskill's death, Kellett Aircraft cancelled the XR-10 program.