Gerald Dean Carico, 73, a United States Navy aerospace engineer, passed away on November 18, 2017. Carico was a driving force in Navy and Army rotary wing flight test, and especially dynamic interface simulation, for more than 40 years. At the time of his retirement, he was the Senior Aerospace Engineer at Rotary Wing Ship Suitability Branch of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Patuxent River, Maryland.
Carico was born on October 26, 1944. He earned a BS in aerospace engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1967, a MS in aerospace engineering from Princeton in 1976, and a MS in engineering science from the Navy Postgraduate School in 1988. He was also an engineering graduate of the United States Navy Test Pilot School.
Carico sponsored and guided numerous R&D programs funded by the United States Navy addressing technical challenges associated with operating rotorcraft from both small-deck ships and amphibious carriers. He was responsible for the creation of the Dynamic Interface Pilot Rating Scale, a modified form of the Cooper-Harper handling qualities rating system that more directly addresses the challenges associated with the task of landing rotorcraft onto ship decks in a wide range of operational conditions. That metric of evaluation is still in use by pilots performing aircraft/ship qualification testing to this day.
Dean used a variety of options to help support and enhance rotorcraft flight testing including air vehicle program support, small business innovative research (SBIR) programs, internal science and technology programs, internal capital purchase programs, test technology demonstration programs, and high-performance computing programs. His areas of interest included programs that focused on improving rotorcraft flight test analytics and related databases. His major contributions were in the areas of rotorcraft flight simulation, air vehicle model enhancements, rotorcraft/ship modeling enhancements, improved flight test databases and related documentation.
His recognition of the difficulties of the DI modeling problem, and his dogged pursuit of its solution (sometimes in the face of significant resistance) is legendary. His dedication to the cause of improving the safety of the Naval rotary-wing aviator, and his humility and unfailing sense of humor in the process, are an inspiration to the engineers that had the opportunity and privilege to work with him.
Carico was a Lifetime Member of AHS. He was an active member and former chair of the AHS Modeling & Simulation Technical Committee and was the author or co-author of more than a dozen technical papers. He received the United States Government’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award for testing in a combat zone in 1973, and the Richard L. Wernecke Award for technical excellence in rotorcraft test and evaluation in 1997.
Carico joined the Society of Flight Test Engineers in 1987. He received the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE) Directors Award in September 2003 and was selected as Fellow of SFTE in 2009.