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Memorial Tributes, Volume 11
RICHARD M. CARLSON
Elected in 1990
“For significant contributions to the application ofcomposite materials to operational helicopters.”
BY WILLIAM F. BALLHAUS JR.
RICHARD M. CARLSON, retired chief of the Advanced Systems Research and Analysis Office, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Ames Research Center, died at his home in Saratoga, California, on July 12, 2004. He was 79 years old.
Dick was born in Preston, Idaho, on February 4, 1925. His grandfather was a doctor who supported his interest in aviation—it was the Lindbergh era—by sending him, at age 10 or 12, on a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Los Angeles to visit relatives. The plane, a Fokker, with wooden wings, was operated by TWA, predecessor of Trans Continental and Western Air. The experience made a big impression on Dick, who enrolled in the University of Washington after high school and participated in the U.S. Navy V-12 Program for reserve officer candidates. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1945.
Following graduation, Dick was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy; he served as an aircraft maintenance officer for 10 months in the Pacific. One of his assignments, at Pearl Harbor, was disposing of surplus aircraft, many of them brand new, a task he did not relish, especially after he learned that some engines and other parts found their way into the hands of unscrupulous profiteers. After completing his service, Dick re-