In October 1968, was it chance or serendipity that led the Society of Flight Test Engineers to begin a series of discussions that ultimately led to its formal incorporation later that year? Maybe they told stories about Jack Ridley and Chuck Yeager’s October feat, breaking the sound barrier 21 years earlier on October 14, 1947. In any case, the roots of the profession are deep in the soil of this part of the calendar. Orange was already part of the fabric of the profession by, so it seems only fitting that as the leaves turned colors and the trees went dormant, a group of professionals sprung to life.

Early Historical Timeline

October 7, 1968: Seattle Boeing FTEs aim to establish a society
October 24, 1968: First SFTE weekly meeting.
October 29, 1968: First Publicity Committee Meeting
November 13, 1968: Board sets paperwork deadlines
November 27, 1968: Initial draft of Constitution and Bylaws
December 4, 1968: Nominating and Elections Procedures, Formation of Chartered Chapters
December 11, 1968: Constitution December 18, 1968: Bylaws
December 26, 1968: Secretary of State approves the Articles of Incorporation.

February 5, 1969: First report of Members: 7 applicants received at this point
April 9-10, 1969: Flight Test Management Technical Meeting hosted by SFTE
May 1969: Final Constitution Acceptance
May 1969: First National Election
June 1969: Final Bylaws Acceptance
June 4, 1969: Induction of additional chapter (Antelope Valley) Switched to holding monthly meetings
September 3, 1969: Non-Profit Status approval was announced to the Board of Directors.
October 1969- May 1970: Six Chapters created, each holding monthly dinner meetings with either local or visiting speakers or flight test films.
October 3, 1969: Antelope Valley Chapter established
November 5, 1969: Long Island Chapter established

February 2, 1970: North Texas Chapter established
April 1, 1970: Patuxent River Chapter established
May 6, 1970: Los Angeles Chapter and Wichita Chapter established
October 5-7, 1970: First Annual Business Meeting Held in conjunction with Long Island Chapter’s Technical Meeting “Computer Aided Flight Testing in the 1970s”; 2 Journal issues published; monthly newsletter now implemented; 457 total members; 404 Members, 38 Associates, 15 Affiliates

October 3, 1972: Second Annual Business Meeting; First National Board of Directors Meeting Elections for a National Board of Directors Board composed of AV and LA Chapter Members; Mailing address becomes associated with Lancaster, CA

August 20, 1973: Society Award Program – Award to be presented annually to a member who excelled in his particular flight test field. Kelly Johnson received the award, and the award was then named in his honor.

This article first appeared in the Flight Test News, 18-10.

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