The 2015 SFTE International Symposium has drawn to a close, and what a week it was! Dr. Tim Jorris and his Antelope Valley Chapter team offered one incredible day after another. We heard presentations about the past (Voyager's nine day odyssey around the world, and Space Ship One's ascent into space), the present (statistical pitot-static calibration technique), and the future (fused reality visual simulation, and the X-15's legacy of hypersonic travel). The tours of Edwards AFB and Mojave provided glimpses into the excitement and ideal conditions that have brought aviation innovators to the Valley for over 70 years. The Antelope Valley Chapter reminded us again that our members dare to accomplish the things that others only dream. Attendees even had opportunities to chat with aviation legends Mike Melville and Dick Rutan.
We had a trade show concurrent with the symposium. I loved seeing the latest technical innovations in instrumentation and data systems, and speaking with representatives from several key training institutions, but I also noticed companies seeking to hire scores of flight test professionals.
I had the chance to meet a very special attendee; Jon Whitworth, SFTE member number two! Jon travelled to California to participate in the symposium. He was one of the founding members of our Society, and he was very proud to see how far we had come since he, Bruce Inman, Edward Grashot, Roger Jones, Gerald Bye, Jerry Goethe, Fred Quealey, and James Raphael met and imagined how to create an organization that could elevate the standards of flight testing and save lives. That idea grew into an organization with members in more than a dozen countries, symposiums that give our members the chance to spread ideas that can change the future, and meetings where we can learn lessons from the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. These chance encounters, where the current leaders and newcomers can compare notes with folks who dedicated more than forty years to the Society of Flight Test Engineers and our industry, are exactly why I believe our symposia are so important. If you have the opportunity to attend, please don't let it pass you by!
On the subject of symposia, the European SFTE Symposium took place October 6-8, 2015 and the Wichita Chapter will host the next international symposium August 14-18, 2016.