JD’s dream from an early age was to fly. While in high school he obtained his pilots license through a program offered by the Royal Canadian Air Force. His hometown of Presque Isle, Maine is less then 20 miles from the Canadian border.
After graduating high school, JD hitchhiked from airport to airport doing odd jobs and working his way to San Diego, California. His goal was to enroll into a flight engineers school offered by Consolidated Aircraft. After graduation he went to work for Consolidated which latter became Lockheed Martin Aircraft.
He was chief flight test engineer on many first flights on planes built by Consolidated, Convair and General Dynamics, including the first flight of the B36 and B58.
While in San Diego he met his wife Barbara Stewart. On February 10, 2010 they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.
Some of the original flights JD was on still hold world records for type of aircraft for speed, duration, altitude, etc.
He wanted to be a fighter pilot during World War II, however his duties of flying PBY’s to Hawaii for Consolidated kept him from being drafted or joining the Army Air Corps.
JD had flown with some of aviation’s finest pilots such as Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and Howard Hughes. He also had the opportunity to work with Jimmy Stewart and June Allison on the filming of Strategic Air Command.
He retired after 49 years with General Dynamics. Many of his contributions to aviation have been well documented over the years in books and on television. He is often seen on the Discovery and History Channels.
After retirement he and his wife spent many hours in their private plane flying from coast to coast. Unfortunately age caught up with them and they switched from wings to six wheels and drove their motor home from coast to coast. They especially enjoyed a RV park on the beach in San Diego.
Over the years he had said he had lived his dream and beyond especially for a kid from Presque Isle, Maine growing up during the Depression. Not long before he passed away he did admit the only dream that did not come true was to make it into space. I told him that somehow and someday I would try to make his last wish and dream come true. Thankfully I discovered Celestis and with their help JD’s dream will come true.
JD is survived by his wife Barbara, sons Jimmy, Alex and Eric and grandchildren and great grandchildren.