by Leo R.
I joined the Fort Worth location in 1979 (then General Dynamics) and worked in the training equipment group. At that time, the group was just beginning to support the F-16 with new designs, as well as managing some subcontractors in the development of F-16 trainers. In addition we still were updating the 128 F-111 trainers previously delivered. As a device designer in love with aircraft, I got to learn how all the various subsystems integrated into the aircraft as I did my design.
As an example, the F-16 gun system trainer involved the gun system, its hydraulics and electrical system, airframe, cockpit controls, computers and the ground support equipment for loading and boresighting the gun. The Air Force wanted to be able to teach maintainers all gun functions in the classroom, so the resultant trainer encompassed all of the items mentioned. Ultimately, we created and delivered over $140 million in maintenance training devices for the F-16.
I was later able to work the beginnings of the F-22 pilot and maintainer training systems with our partners at Boeing. It was special to be in the auditorium the day Randy Kent announced the F-22 win.
My career spanned Vietnam era planes to the latest in fighters. Over that time, I was able to work with some Air Force people that are still friends to this day, as well as many great folks at Lockheed Martin.