30 Years of Service: Technical Center Director Wilson Felder recently presented Certificates of Service (30 years) to John Wiley and Stan Ciurczak.
Employee Profile: Jerry Smith
Interviewed by Stan Ciurczak
Jerry Smith: Ever heard of the CAA Technical Development Center in Indianapolis? That organization preceded the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC), which in turn preceded the FAA Technical Center. Jerry Smith worked at the CAA Technical Development Center until he transferred to NAFEC in April 1959. He has worked here for 48 of the past 50 years, first as a Federal employee and then as a contractor. Currently he works at Battelle Memorial Institute, a Tech Center contractor.
Stan: Thanks, Jerry, for talking with me.
Jerry: The Atrium down there where they have the plaques with the likeness of all the Center Directors, I have worked with every one of them. I worked for every NAFEC Director and Tech Center Director beginning with Col. Cowart, through Dr. Anne Harlan.
Stan: Are you the only person you know who has worked for every Director?
Jerry: I actually retired from the government in January 1999. I took about 1½ years off, actually close to 2 years I was off. I started with my current job, which is Battelle Memorial Institute. We do primarily support work for aviation security, which is in building 315. Starting in the very beginning, back in April 1959, I was 19 years old coming out to the East for the first time, growing up in Indiana . The government project planes at that time were old DC3’s and a twin Beachcraft. They had a seat opening on the DC3, so I came out over a weekend and I did my first exploring in South Jersey. We flew from the Indianapolis Municipal Airport , which is now the Indiana International Airport . We had the TDC, Technical Development Center . It was CAA at the time, Civil Aeronautics Administration and I believe when Eisenhower took over, they started the FAA, which was the Federal Aviation Agency, and they brought all of the technical tests and R&D related to aviation – there was a toss up between the Tech Center here in Atlantic City or Pine Castle Air Force Base down in Florida. I think possibly senators or whoever bid for this won by getting all the groups to move to one location and it was here at the Tech Center . Because they had the 10,000 foot runway which was left over from the Navy – so that was one main thing they wanted and also to be in proximity of high density area, such as New York and Philadelphia so they could do their testing with the research aircraft and then again had the open space over the ocean where they could do various testing with navigation aides and anything associated with aviation. The old base was all wooden buildings; there was the hospital, mess hall, and old bowling alley. A matter of fact, I think I was still a GS-2 making $3,255 a year. So I needed to make a little extra money and the bowling alley, I guess it was an officer’s bowling alley when the Navy was here and it had mechanical pinsetters and I had a job there a couple nights a week. It was all NAFEC people that had a bowling league and I use to set pins at the bowling alley – I think it was a 6-lane bowling alley.
Stan: Was it a nighttime league?
Jerry: Right – in the evening. I used to make big bucks. I think on a good night I would make like $10 for just a couple hours of work which is probably 2 times more than I made at my regular job. The first building I was in we had the TDC simulator, which was a system that had some – I believe it was 32 target generators and these were actually little projectors that projected a round spot of light and we had a slide projector, so to speak, that projected the air routes, runways and so forth up on the wall. The simulator operators, which were the pilots, would slide this target of light and then we had a TV camera take a picture of the wall with the map projected and the spots of light, which represented the aircraft. I remember one of the airports we did simulation for; one of them was Dulles, when Dulles was made to determine the headings of the runways to meld with the feeder fixes and National airport. They did all this and they would change the map that they projected on the wall and could tell the different headings of the runways, which ones were most harmonious to the approaching aircraft and not to interfere with aircraft from National and other airports. Simulation was where I worked for the first 20 years as a maintenance technician. Started out as an engineering aide and then an electronic technician. Then after about 20 years, over on the old base – about the time when the current T&A building was built, you’ll have to check the dates on that but I think it was right around 1980. For 2 years, 1978 and 1979, I was a technician in the hangar working with the MLS, Microwave Landing System. I was assigned to a group represented by Texas Instruments. They had a contract for a prototype of a small community microwave landing system. That was the old runway, which was 826 and no longer here. I believe they ripped that out some time maybe in the mid or late 80’s. We used to fly a lot of project aircraft here on the base. The pilots would test out the receivers and so forth of the microwave landing system.
Stan: Take me back to the very beginning – the day you arrived to work here.
Jerry: I flew in on a DC-3. It was April and it was supposed to be nice weather, they had told me. I was used to the winters in Indiana and the Midwest where it would snow and many times the ground would be covered for 6 weeks or 2 months; kind of continuous, it would melt and so forth.
Stan: How did you find a place to live?
Jerry: Actually I got married right out of high school and bought a house trailer out in Indiana , which was fairly common back in the 1950’s. With what the government paid with my per diem and mileage for the car and all, it just about covered to move that trailer from here to the Pomona Trailer Park , which was just on the outskirts of the base over in Pomona . Yes – it is still there. Going up Tilton Road North to the light, turn right and just down a ways it is on your right. It still is there – a campground or something – now called Pomona Campground. That is where I stayed the first couple of years.
Stan: Is Indiana where you were born and raised?
Jerry: Born in New Castle , Indiana , which is known for its high school basketball. Not too far from where the Hoosier movie was made. That was actually Milan , Indiana – a small school. I moved to the big city, Indianapolis , when I was 3 years old. Lived in the City until I was 12 and then moved out to the country. My parents bought a small farm, 35-acre farm. I think my parents thought it was a good place- I had two older brothers – to grow up out in the country, rather than the city. I started right out of high school where there were applications to local high schools and colleges for jobs as air traffic control simulator operators. I applied for one of those jobs and my buddy and I went and took the civil service test and he and I were within a couple tenths of a point on our test, so the two of us got hired and we worked there for a year and something. They closed that Center and moved everyone to Atlantic City and that is how I got here.
Stan: That was the Technical Proving Ground?
Jerry: That was CAA at the time, Civil Aeronautics Administration. There is a guy I met here; his name is Art Holmes. He was here at the Tech Center for 30 some years and he currently lives in Absecon and has lived there for a number of years. He would be a good guy for you to talk to. He came from NAFEC out to Indianapolis with another guy; I believe his name was Stan Ware. The two of them, Art Holmes and Stan Ware, were technicians or engineers that came out to coordinate the moving of test equipment and probably office equipment. I believe it was everything that they coordinated and set up in the hanger at TDC in Indianapolis . They were the first two guys that I met from New Jersey . Art worked here for years and I stayed in touch with him over the years and when he retired, he handed off the torch to me as being the old timer on the base. So I went from one of the youngest guys on the base, at like 19, to 40 years of service: April 1959 to January 1999. The old base, being the old buildings, was primarily on Tilton Road , which is now where the Air Guard entrance is. That was the main gate coming into NAFEC and some of the highlights that I remember back in the old days, back in the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy was in office and this was one of the places that they brought several B47’s loaded with whatever, state-of-the-art bombs or rockets. They were parked over on the apron near the Air Guard, the old hangars. Security, I have never seen security so tight. Of course I was a young guy and hadn’t seen a whole lot of anything.
Stan: Where did they come from?
Jerry: I’m not sure but they brought them in with the bombs and so forth and fueled them up. They were so heavy that they had jet, it’s called jado assist, pods on some, seems like maybe 6 rockets on each side that they would get on the runway, get up to speed and kick those rockets in so that there would be 6 rockets on each side – a total of 12 rockets or whatever the number was, to give them the power to get off of our 10,000 ft. runway. Needless to say, they were never used but they were ready. I’m sure there were other bases where there were B52’s and whatever that were ready to go.
Stan: I’ve heard people say through the years that there were nuclear bombs here. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Jerry: I heard over the years, they are still over there: the bunkers are still over in the vicinity of the cemetery, going north on Tilton Road , that those bunkers over there had missiles. Of course we never heard exactly what it was, but the scuttlebutt was that. At least, I think it was.
I believe the old planes were the National Guard planes and probably the Air Force was here then. I don’t know if it was the 177th Fighter Wing then. We have gone through a lot of different planes like F106’s. I remember the 106’s in my later career in aviation security. We use to do some testing at Mt. Davis Air Force Base and I saw some of these old 106’s with Jersey Devils on the tail and they were converting those into drones for fly-by-wire that they would go up and shoot them down with missiles for training purposes.
Stan: What did the Pomona area look like in 1959? Was it farm land?
Jerry: No most of the area was all woods here and they brought in a big machine that had huge rollers on it. I think the company was from Texas and I think the name of the company was Laturno or something like that. This big machine went through the woods and actually knocked all these pine trees down to the ground and broke them and they laid there and over the period of the years rotted but that was the easiest way of clearing a lot of the woods.
Stan: Was this actually on the base or are you talking about the outside area?
Jerry: On the base. Naturally over in the old barracks area, the big pine trees and so forth, that was cleared some time before and I don’t know what the history was before the Naval Air Station, but I did work with some of the guys that were stationed here at the Naval Air Station. One thing that I thought was kind of ironic was that back after WWII they had a lot of old surplus military equipment. One way to get rid of it, I understand that out near the runway there, they brought in heavy equipment and dug huge trenches out there and a lot of these old vehicles and equipment, etc., they bulldozed into those trenches and covered them up with dirt out there.
Stan: When you say that they had these big machines to clear the pine trees – I’m thinking the Navy had already been here and NAFEC is opening for business. Are you saying, beyond what the Navy had already cleared, NAFEC had to start clearing more areas?
Jerry: Right. Out near the runways, where we had a lot of experimental navigation aide antennas fly-by-wire where they could track aircraft coming in I think there was maybe five or six towers that kind of looked like a dome for astronomy or whatever, but there would be a couple guys that would set in this thing and this camera with telescopic lens would track air craft as they would be coming in, probably with experimental receivers for the ILS. They would pick them up and maybe it was even autopilot or something like that they were working – I don’t know for sure what they were tracking.
Stan: Was this all NAFEC?
Jerry: Yes, all NAFEC.
Stan: Are you aware or do you happen to have any photos of what it was like here in 1959.
Jerry: No, but I bet one of my friends, Annette Harrell in Advanced Imaging does. Annette and I worked together over in simulation back all those years and as I came back here as a contractor and came into the cafeteria, I used to recognize everybody’s face. Now that we are sitting here now, maybe there is 30 people in here – I see 2 guys down at the far end down there that I recognize.
Stan: To your knowledge, are you the longest serving of anybody working here?
Jerry: My service ended in 1999. I didn’t hand the torch off – there was a new longest serving person but I’m not sure who that was. I know for sure that the lady in the print shop, Betty Lafferty, came here about the time I did or maybe a few months before as a contractor. I think she may have worked for Lockheed or somebody in the office. I’m not sure if she is still here.
Stan: She is, the last time I checked.
Jerry: She was actually here and if she is still here, she is definitely the longest continuous employee: not government, but with contractors and so forth. She would know and I think she was associated with the print shop for all of these years.
Stan: Right. In fact the last time I was in Betty’s office she had a group photo of almost every year – about 10-12 years; a group photo of the Print Shop that was taken on awards day or something. She has them taped up on the side of her cubicle and it is really neat since you go from black and white to color, and of course at one point you had printing presses and now you have Xerox machines or you send it out. It is really neat; right on her desk she kind of has this tutorial history.
Jerry: Going back to the old entrance coming into NAFEC, 1 st building on the left was Bldg. 12 – that was where the Base Commander, not called the Center Director then, had their offices in that building. on the left and I believe that is all gone.
Stan: Base Commander was the name of the NAFEC Director?
Jerry: Right and that was Col. Cowart. The old base, I think they started the NAFEC Association shortly after I came here. There were two swimming pools on the old base. One was the officers’ and the other was the enlisted men’s swimming pool and the NAFEC Association in the summer time ran those pools and it was open to employees and families. I remember going over there and swimming in these in-ground swimming pools, which were right near the old mess hall, which was Bldg. 19. I spent close to 15 years in Bldg. 19. That is where simulation was done.
Stan: Was that the target generator facility that you mentioned earlier?
Jerry: Well the first one was from TDC. We were across the street in Bldg. 7, which was an old barracks that was probably 50 feet wide and a couple hundred feet long that was modified for our testing. Then the main simulation facility was Bldg. 19 right across the street.
Stan: Did you say TDC?
Jerry: Yes, the Technical Development Center .
Stan: So the entire TDC came to NAFEC from Indianapolis , that name was hung on Bldg. 7 and that’s where you worked?
Jerry: Yes. Another simulator, an earlier version of the simulator; it was WATSEE and I’m not sure what it stands for but it was from Dayton, Ohio Air Force base. There were several families that moved with that equipment also, and the equipment was installed in Bldg. 19. Then there was the state-of-the-art system: back then it was the Model A, which was a 48-target generator system. That was one of the systems that I was a maintenance technician on and maintaining the target generators, radars, communications and the beacons that were all hard wired, no RF or anything, but they were simulated. That was in Bldg. 19.
Stan: Was the target generator facility in Bldg. 19?
Jerry: Right. Then a few years later the second generation or the Model B simulator, which I believe was 60 targets. Now all these at one time, both A & B simulators were operating and there was probably about 120, mostly a majority of them were women of all ages, from young gals up to older women and some young guys and even some old guys that were veterans from WWII and so forth. So a lot of the first people that I met and that I got friendly with were either SIMOPS so to speak, simulator operators, or the maintenance people. We probably had roughly 20 engineer technicians that maintained the different systems.
[Editor’s Note: At this point, Jerry Smith had to leave for a meeting, so the interview concluded.]
Stan: Thanks very much, Jerry. I hope we get to talk again about the “good old’ days” again someday soon.
The Capacity Modeling & Analysis Group. Front row (left to right): Emily Guerrios, Janice Kay Cobb and Helen Monk. Center: Cassandra Miller and Ji’on Brown. Rear: Andrew Lamb, Douglas Frye, Jennifer Morris, Gary Renauro and Joseph Richie. Not in photo: John Zinna, Daniel Penrith, Megan James and Anthony Chiari. Jennifer Morris, Capacity Modeling and Analysis Group manager, addressed the Southern Jersey Professional Societies’ first 2007 dinner meeting, on January 24, at Mays Landing Country Club. “Airspace & Airport Modeling & Simulation: Answering ‘What if’ Questions for the Next Generation Air Transportation System” was the topic of Morris’s talk, presented to the group, which includes members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Capacity Modeling and Analysis Group analysts have been answering “What If” questions about new technologies and physical improvements for more than 30 years. The team provides technical expertise in fast-time computer simulation modeling and analysis to enable stakeholders to make decisions about changing airports and airspace to best meet the needs of future demand. The group has studied almost every major and medium-size airport in the United States. The team also has provided consulting to airports in Germany, Israel, Chile and South Korea.
The Capacity Group has a suite of fast-time simulation models, including: The Airfield Delay Simulation Model (ADSIM), the Runway Delay Simulation Model (RDSIM) and the FAA’s Airport and Airspace Simulation Model (commonly known as SIMMOD). The team is constantly enhancing the capabilities of its arsenal of models. Janice Kay Cobb developed the animation for ADSIM. John Zinna continues to improve the Airport and Airspace Simulation Model while Anthony Chiari expands the capabilities of ADSIM and RDSIM.
The specialized group developed a technique to measure the Annual Service Volume (ASV) of various airports throughout the country. Since 1999, the group has performed more than 120 ASV studies. Initially, the goal was to look at airports that were considering new runways. Other operational improvements also had been analyzed. Recently, the ASV studies have focused on the effects of incorporating NextGen technologies that would allow reducing in-trail arrival/arrival separations.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey uses the information generated by the ASV studies in her annual report to Congress. In October, Vicki Cox, Air Traffic Organization Vice President of Operations Planning (ATO-P), recognized the completion of these important studies as one of ATO-P’s “significant accomplishments for FY06,” during her All Hands Meeting at the Technical Center. Analysts Doug Frye, Helen Monk and Gary Renauro were the project leads for two ASVs at Philadelphia, and one each at Memphis, LaGuardia and Oakland International Airports.
Just last year, the team studied three projects at Denver International Airport: de-icing scenarios, runway closure analysis and the addition of a seventh runway. Cassandra Miller served as the project manager for these efforts while senior analysts Gary Renauro and Doug Frye played an integral role in ensuring a quick response to the runway closure analysis study.
Recently, the Capacity Group worked closely with the Joint Planning Development Office by providing technical support to the Evaluation and Analysis Division. They were tasked to simulate the impact of reduced in-trail separations and the constraint of runway occupancy times. The Runway Delay Simulation Model (RDSIM) was used to model operations at San Francisco International Airport for this effort. The analysis of the fast-time simulation results indicated that although runway occupancy times did not seem to be a constraint with the current separations, decreased in-trail separations in combination with reduced runway occupancy times showed a greater benefit than simulations run with just the reduced separations alone.
The Capacity Modeling and Analysis Group was featured in magazine articles International Airport Review (September 2006) and the American Association of Airport Executive’s (AAAE) Airport magazine (October/November 2006), and in The Press of Atlantic City (April 26, 2006) for the impact of new large aircraft (i.e. A380) work being conducted at the Technical Center by Joe Richie and Dan Penrith.
A good crowd of both industry and FAA members, including Technical Center Director Wilson Felder, attended the South Jersey Professional Societies meeting. After the presentation, John Zinna gave a demonstration of the FAA’s Airport and Airspace Simulation Model (SIMMOD), showing the animation of Denver International Airport. Also, Andy Lamb demonstrated the animation in the Airfield Delay Simulation Model (ADSIM) that was used for Joseph Richie’s New Large Aircraft (i.e. A380) Impact Study at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session. Mike Greco asked what would be the single contribution of the Capacity Group to looking at the future with NextGen technologies. The key to meeting the demand of the future is maximizing the efficiency of today’s traffic at our nation’s airports. The Capacity Modeling and Analysis Group can assist by applying fast-time computer simulation and analysis techniques to model new technologies, physical improvements and operational procedures.
FAA Employee Wins ATCA Award for Innovation
By Holly Baker
An FAA electronics technician has been named the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) Airway Transportation Systems Specialist of the Year. He was honored for his innovative work to enhance the safety and efficiency of airport instrument landing systems.
Steven Edwards, a member of the FAA’s Navigational Aids unit at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, was cited by ATCA for creating the localizer cable fault analyzer. This unique electronic device can quickly troubleshoot problems in an instrument landing system’s (ILS) antenna array.
The ILS provides precise course and height guidance to an aircraft approaching a runway. The system is made up of a localizer antenna array, with several pairs of directional antennas beyond the end of the runway. All antennas must be functioning properly for the transmitted signal to be correct in the aircraft and for the system to work properly. Any antenna problem can result in an unsafe condition during the final approach.
The analyzer will catch an antenna cable fault and memorize which antenna had the fault. The device is connected to the ILS equipment, enabling technicians to quickly identify and repair the malfunctioning antenna, greatly reducing the amount of time the ILS is out of service. The analyzer immediately pinpoints the faulty antenna, saving hours of troubleshooting and repair time.
The FAA has filed a provisional patent application for this device with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
“This is a perfect example of Technology Transfer at its best,” said Deborah Germak, FAA Technology Transfer program manager, who nominated Edwards for the award. “Steve’s technology will improve the margin of safety for aircraft landings at airports all over the country.”
The localizer was featured at the World’s Best Technologies Exposition in Dallas in March, and displayed at the ATCA Technical Symposium in Atlantic City in April 2006. Edwards won the Southwest Region’s 2004 “Wings of Success” award in the technical support category for his efforts. The FAA Logistics Center in Oklahoma City built a prototype of Edwards’ device and plans to deploy copies of it nationwide.
Edwards has worked with the FAA for more than five years. Before that, he worked for 13 years with Nav Aids Inc. The company supplies the FAA with the widely used 89GR portable ILS receiver. Edwards was actively involved in all aspects of prototyping, manufacturing and warranty repair of this device.
Black History Month Celebration
By Maudie Powell, NBCFAE Public Affairs Officer
The FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center celebrated “Black History Month-2007” under the theme “From Slavery to Freedom: Africans in the Americas” on February 22. The celebration focused on Black History through music and featured students of chARTer Tech School of the Performing Arts (Somers Point, NJ).
National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees (NBCFAE) Vice President Jamaal Lipscomb welcomed the Center employees and students and introduced Center Director Dr. Wilson Felder. In his comments, Dr. Felder acknowledged the accomplishments and impact of Blacks in America and recognized Dr. Condoleeza Rice, who serves as Secretary of State. He also stated the need to continue to expand opportunities for Black Americans, so that their accomplishments and impact will continue to expand. He declared that there is a need for more engineers, scientists and pilots in the Technical Center’s workforce.
Passenger safety depends on the capability and reliability of the National Airspace System (NAS) and the people who operate it. The characteristics of air travel are changing and the Technical Center has a critical responsibility for the next generation NAS that will accommodate technology evolution and increased air traffic volume. Dr. Felder encouraged the students and audience to recommend (or consider) the Technical Center as a future employer for those who possess the skills needed to build the air transportation system of the future. He connected the need to individual lives by asking the audience to imagine how it feels to be traveling in a plane. He also thanked the students in advance for sharing their talents as a means of educating the audience about the history of Blacks in America, acknowledging the vast range of their impact on American history.
Mr. Lipscomb commented that Black history has been an important part of American history since the initial arrival of Blacks in America. It has been the backbone of the Black culture that is both Black and American history. It is a history permeated with the struggles of overcoming hatred, bigotry and racism to instill justice, peace, righteousness, and non-racist attitudes and behavior in our home society.
When the chARTer Tech students took to the stage, they provided a history storyline complemented by a musical repertoire reflecting the impact of music in Black history. Blacks were physically separated from the native African land, but the homeland traditions and ties are retained in Black music, be it songs of spirit (spirituals), blues, jazz, or modern-day hip-hop. Black music was used to send messages as enslaved Blacks made escapes through the Underground Railroad; to express separation from loved ones and home (Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child); to plea for spiritual comfort and strength (I Need You Now); and to assert unyielding faith and determination as displayed by Mrs. Rosa Parks and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (We Shall Overcome).
Technical Center NBCFAE President, Kenneth Hitchens, presented the chARTer Tech School a letter of thanks and complimented the students and school for its talents and accomplishments.