The following is submitted as a Preliminary Roster of Nominees for the 2018-2020 SFTE Board of Directors per the SFTE Constitution, for your information.
A ballot for election will be sent to all members by the end of June.
Nomination by Petition – Please reply by, if you would like to petition for a Member in good standing, who has agreed to serve if elected, to be added to the Roster of Nominees and whose nomination is supported in writing by at least 80 Members and Associate Members in good standing.
2018 – 2020 SFTE Board of Directors, Preliminary Roster of Candidates
Mr. James Sergeant
North Texas Chapter
Flight Test Manager, Lockheed Martin
James Sergeant has over 34 years of flight test engineering experience and is currently the flight test manager for Lockheed Martin on the NASA Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) project. The new X airplane’s goal is to design, build, and demonstrate an aircraft with a much smaller sonic boom signature in order to open the skies above populated areas around the world to supersonic, commercial aircraft.
He was also the F-35 Flight Test Engineering Manager at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. He wrote the initial proposal for the X-35 Flight Test Program and then served as a Test Director. He was also the lead Flight Test Engineer for the first YF-22A, the VISTA/F-16, the Multi-Axis Thrust Vectoring F-16, Cessna 208 and F-16 Reconnaissance aircraft, and several other programs.
James Sergeant has a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington with specific research in transonic wind tunnel testing and coursework in flight test engineering. James is a Fellow of the Society of Flight Test Engineers, an Associate Fellow in AIAA, a past President of SFTE and is currently the North Texas Chapter president of SFTE and the AIAA North Texas Section Chair, which numbers almost 1,000 total members. He has published six SFTE technical papers and Safety Workshop presentations and chaired four International SFTE Symposiums and is a member of the AIAA Flight Test Technical Committee. As recent chapter president in North Texas, James has established monthly SFTE programs at two major universities, an annual STEM program for over 1,000 kids, a summer ground school, sponsorship of two competitive university rocket teams, regular cockpit simulator flights and technical tours, and the annual Southwest Symposium in conjunction with AIAA and SETP.
James’ future goals for SFTE are to:
- Increase membership with the establishment of new chapters around the world in locations such as Asia, Australia, and South America.
- Develop an electronic periodical that captures flight test events from around the world in a timely manner that highlights the involvement of our members.
- Continue the development of flight test standards by the Tech Council.
- Develop a compilation of useful flight test apps and possibly even new ones.
- Update and refresh the website.
- Increase SFTE input to the safety workshop to improve the quality and focus.
- Re-establish the Los Angeles Chapter.
Dr. Panos Vitsas
Canadian & European Chapter
Instructor Flight Test Engineer, International Test Pilots School (ITPS) Canada
Professionally, Dr. Panos Vitsas has twelve years of experience as a flight test engineer. Panos began his career with the Hellenic Air Force Military Service in 2006, where he was employed as an A-7 Corsair II Engineer. He then worked as a contract engineer for FRIENDCOPTER, Clear Sky, Laskarris UAV, Centaursoft, and ITPS Canada from 2007 – 2013. In 2011, Dr. Vitsas lectured at the University of Patras on Aircraft Design and Aerodynamics. Currently, he works as an Instructor Flight Test Engineer with the International Test Pilot School located in Ontario, Canada. His main areas of instruction include flight sciences, military specifications, and Advanced FCS.
Dr. Panos Vitsas has a Dipl. Eng. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Patras, a Masters of Science in Human Factors and Safety in Aeronautics from Cranfield University, and a Ph.D. in Computational Aerodynamics from the University of Patras. In 2012, Dr. Vitsas completed the Flight Test Engineer Diploma Course with the International Test Pilot School Canada.
He has CPL with Multi-Engineer/Instrument Rating and has flown on more than thirty aircraft types as both a pilot and flight test engineer. Panos is an SFTE Lifetime Member, a past director for the International Board (2014-2016) and is currently serving as the Vice President for the International Board of Directors (2016-2018). He is also a member of the AIAA Flight Test Technical Committee. Dr. Vitsas has published over ten technical papers in international journals and conferences including the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Society of Flight Test Engineers Symposia.
Future Goals for SFTE
- The primary objective is not increasing the numbers of membership or chapters but to increase the value of membership – make the $55 annual fee worthwhile. With increased membership value, the membership numbers will increase and will remain high.
- I would question the value of a flight test app that calculates PEC to the average SFTE Member. The value of membership will be increased through effective information exchange among members. Technical content and regular webinars “for Members by Members” communicating the approach to flight test and the lessons learned in their projects or areas of expertise is just one of the ways.
- Increase the prestige of the Society through the promotion of its history, present standing, future outlook, and the outstanding individuals and projects that constitute it. For example, I plan to create an SFTE Wikipedia Page and using social media in a professional manner to promote the Society and the profession.
- The website should not be refreshed or updated. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch, not by web developers, but by flight testers with a passion for testing and aviation and an understanding of SFTE.
- Reach out to fellow societies – SETP, AIAA, Flight Test Safety Committee – for practical ways of cooperation, which would be beneficial to the profession and our membership.
Vice President Candidates:
Mr. Kevin Welch
Test Director, The Boeing Company
Kevin Welch is a Test Director at The Boeing Company, currently flight testing the most recent variant of the 737 MAX, the 737-7. He has experience flight testing many of the Boeing 7-series airplanes as either a Stability & Control/Handling Qualities Analysis Engineer or a Test Director, including major certification programs on the 747-8F, 767-2C, the 787-9, and all variants of the 737 MAX. He is a current member of the SFTE Board of Directors and serves as the Safety Committee Chairman and the Board Liaison to the Flight Test Safety Committee. He is also active in his local Seattle Chapter of SFTE, and was recently the Event Chairman for the Seattle SFTE 50th Anniversary Celebration, a 2-day event June 1-2, 2018 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Mr. Richard Starke
Antelope Valley Chapter
Flight Test Engineer, The Spaceship Company
Richard Starke is a Flight Test Engineer with the Spaceship Company, located in Mojave, California.
Mr. Richard Starke received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, in 2006 and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering, from the National Test Pilot School, in 2016.
He is currently serving as the Secretary for the International Board of Directors and has served on the Antelope Valley Chapter Board of Directors (2014-2016). Richard also presented a paper at the 2013 Society of Flight Test Engineers Symposium and was awarded the Best of Session.
Mr. Jeffrey Canclini
North Texas Chapter
Flight Operations Manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Company
Jeff “Canman” Canclini has 35 years in the aviation industry supporting F-35, F-16, and NASA flight test programs as an FTE and test WSO. He currently serves as Lockheed Martin’s F-35 International Flight Operations Manager and FTE Fellow. He is a former Navy CO and distinguished USAF Test Pilot School Graduate. He has accumulated over 3,300 hours in 26 fixed and rotary wing aircraft and holds a commercial multi-engine pilot rating. Jeff is an SFTE Fellow, SFTE Board member, and author of 10 technical publications.
Mr. Kirk Kloeppel
Patuxent River Chapter
Program Manager, Modern Technology Solutions, Incorporated
Kirk Kloeppel is a Program Manager for Modern Technology Solutions, Incorporated supporting the Systems Engineering Directorate within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Based in the Washington DC area, he is responsible for providing technical, acquisition, and test expertise for weapon’s major acquisition programs. Prior to this support, he has participated in small UAS testing including the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety and a demonstration for the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Departments, and operational testing of the Guardian UAS for Customs and Border Protection, wide-area surveillance testing along the southwest border.
Mr. Kloeppel retired from the United States Air Force in 2009 after a 25-year acquisition, flight test, and engineering career. He has over 300 flight hours supporting test events. He has experience in the acquisition and testing of several cruise missiles including qualifying the Conventional Air-launched Cruise Missile prior to its use during Operation Desert Storm. While on the Air Staff, he oversaw the advancement of the Predator and Global Hawk UAS. He led the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy and Munitions Directorates during his last five years in service.
He received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in Aerospace Engineering in 1984 and a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Dayton. He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and Air War College receiving a graduate degree in Strategic Studies. He published a paper concerning the feasibility of micro-UAS in an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance role. He is active in several aerospace and defense societies and is a member of Texas A&M’s Aerospace Engineering Advisory Board.
Four to serve on the Board (listed alphabetically)
Mr. Andrew Gibson
Rocket City Chapter
Flight Test Engineer, United States Army’s Aviation Flight Test Directorate
I am a flight test engineer with the US Army's Aviation Flight Test Directorate. For ten years, I have primarily been testing the AH-64D&E Apache Helicopters as well as other Army rotary and fixed wing platforms (all C-12 and MARSS variants, C-26, C-27, OH-58D, IA-407, H-60 variants). For two years, I was the lead for groups I through III UAS testing (Shadow, Scan Eagle, Soldier Borne Sensor(s), various smalls). I have my private pilot's license and in 2012 received my PE certification for the state of Alabama. In late 2017 and early 2018, I helped found the Rocket City Chapter of SFTE where I currently serve as president. I live in Athens Alabama with my wife Lisa and twin toddler girls and have spent the past few months remodeling our historic home. I have not previously worked with the International SFTE Board but am happy to help in any way.
Mr, Jake Kiehlmeier
Patuxent River Chapter
Test and Evaluation Manager, Navy Air Traffic Control, NAS Patuxent River
I began my career as a flight test engineer working at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River in July of 2009 after Graduating from Penn State in Aerospace Engineering. I was hired into Air Vehicle T&E for Air Traffic Control & Landing Systems. I worked doing Carrier and Amphibious Assault Ship testing for 4 years and other small projects. Simultaneously, I worked for F-18 doing Software Regression testing for landing systems. In 2013, I transitioned projects and began working for the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program, supporting X-47B, the Unmanned Carrier Air System Demonstrator and the follow-on to X-47B; a production version of a carrier-based UAV. I supported that program as the landing systems test SME until February 2016. In February 2016, I transitioned programs to the MQ-4C Triton test program. I worked as a guidance and control flight test engineer and test conductor, supporting envelope expansion and mission systems testing. In March of 2018, I began work as the test and evaluation manager for Navy Air Traffic Control programs. In this role, I plan and resource all Air Traffic Control test projects under that program. I have served as the Patuxent River Chapter President since February 2015, overseeing monthly technical and social events the Chapter hosts for the members.
Ms. Margaret “Peggy” Swassing
Antelope Valley Chapter
I began my flight test engineering career working as an Electronics Engineer for the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake in 1987, after graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Electrical Engineering. I remained with the Naval Weapons System for six years. I then became a Sensors Integration Flight Test Engineer with the Air Force Flight Test Center in Edwards, AFB. I retired from this position in 2016.
I previously served as a Director for the Antelope Valley Chapter.