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FRANK W. DAVIS

1914–2001

Elected in 1967

“For design, development, and testing of supersonic aircraft and
missile systems.”

BY ROBERT J. PATTON

FRANK WILBUR DAVIS, a former test pilot and executive with Convair and General Dynamics, died on July 15, 2001, at the age of 86.

Frank W. Davis was born on December 6, 1914, in Charleston, West Virginia. Raised in Charleston, he was an excellent student. He was also mechanically inclined and wanted to become an engineer. He applied for admission to and was accepted at the California Institute of Technology. He graduated with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1936.

After graduation he joined the U.S. Navy as an aviation cadet, so that he could learn to fly an airplane. Davis received his wings in 1937 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1940 he resigned from the Corps and became a test pilot for Vultee Aircraft. On March 15, 1941, he married Frances Pfeiffer in San Marino, California. In 1945 he was promoted to chief of aerodynamics and flight test at Vultee Aircraft.

Vultee Aircraft became Consolidated Vultee Aircraft, and Frank became assistant chief engineer in 1950 and assistant vice president of engineering in 1952. During this time he was instrumental in the development of the first U.S. turboprop fighter, the XP-81, and the first delta wing supersonic fighter, the XF-92A. Under his guidance the company developed the first vertical takeoff fighter, the XFY-1, in 1954. Frank also had



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