Aviation Week Bureau Chief Addresses Patuxent River Chapter

by S. L. Porter

This article first appeared in the April 1972 Flight Test News.

The Patuxent River Chapter of SFTE met April 21 for a dinner meeting at the Placid Harbor Yacht Club. Guest speaker for the evening was Mr. David A. Brown, Washington Bureau Chief for Aviation Week and Space Technology. Mr. Brown entertained and informed the audience of 87 members, wives and guests with his wide-ranging discussion of current and future Aerospace Programs.

Despite the slow-down experienced in the 1960’s, Mr. Brown does not see an end to the development of new military aircraft. He cites the current S-3A, F-14, F-15, and AV-8A as examples, along with the USAF AX competition and studies for the Sea Control Ship aircraft and USAF lightweight fighter. However, he does advocate greater interservice cooperation to procure the same aircraft for common missions, in order to reduce the overall costs. He sees Sea Control and Close Support as the same mission requirement, possibly met by the same aircraft. Instead, the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps have their own individual approaches for Close Support, and Navy is investigating another for the Sea Control Ship. Mr. Brown sees the AV-8A Harrier as the most available aircraft for the role and lauded the Marine Corps for “getting on with it” while others studied the potential of V/STOL. He chided the services for too many studies, saying they can learn more from flying the vehicle.

In discussing the SST program, Mr. President’s announcement of the Brown saw the greatest impact of the cancellation as the loss of the experiments which would advance technology. He cited the fact that the Aerospace industry is the largest U. S. exporter (93% of all free world commercial airliners were produced in the U.S.). He faulted the industry for not better publicizing the numerous fallout products which result from space and aircraft developments.

In the lengthy question and answer period which followed, Mr. Brown stated that carrier aviation as we know it today is rapidly becoming obsolete. With a Sea Control type aircraft, a 1,000 ft. deck is no longer required, and the air bases can be spread out so that “all the eggs are not in one basket.”

In response to an inquiry on Aviation Week’s information sources, Mr. Brown denied that he had direct access to secret documents. In fact, he has no security clearance. Instead, subject files are maintained where bits of information are accumulated and pieced together for the usually accurate big picture which the publication is known for. Some of the information they collect is not published for security reasons. He stated that they had knowledge of the F-12/SR-71 program 18 months prior to the President’s announcement of he program.

The diversity of topics and wealth of information which the speaker possessed made this one of the more outstanding meetings of the Chapter.

David A Brown, Aviation Week’s Washington Bureau Chief

This article first appeared in the April 1972 Flight Test News.

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