Monday, September 1, 2008

Randy's job history

It's Labor Day, and I thought somebody (my readers? My kids? My friends?) might be interested in my job history. It is really pretty short!

1) My first job was as a newspaper delivery person - a paper boy. I was 11 when my friend Gordon and I got a route for the twice-weekly San Diego Independent newspaper. Our area was between 32nd street and 34th street, and Juniper Street to Laurel Street in the North Park area of San Diego. We held this job for about six months, delivering papers on Thursday and Sunday mornings to subscribers, using bicycles and flexies (Flexible Flyers, not a sled, but with wheels and steering bar) to throw them on porches. The highlight each month was collecting the subscription fees from the subscribers - we got stiffed a lot for what they considered a throw-away newspaper.

2) My second job was an extension of the first - my brother and I had a San Diego Independent newspaper route for about five years, but closer to home (28th Street to Fern Street, Date Street to Fir Street, about 10 blocks). We got really good at doing this job through experience, got to know our customers, and made some pocket money. The customer that I remember is old Mr. Stoddard, who lived on Dale Street. He had his buddies over to play cards regularly, and when we came to collect, he would ask us in to show off what we learned. He actually paid us 25 cents or 50 cents each month to learn something new - the State Capitals, the National Parks, say the alphabet backwards, etc.

3) I wrote about my first "real" regular paying job in the summer of 1963 with the San Diego Chargers in http://www.geneamusings.com/2007/10/my-first-real-job.html.

4) After three years at San Diego State University studying aerospace engineering, I got my first real "real" job with Wagner Aircraft in San Diego in the summer of 1964 - I spent about three months there. This was a spinoff company (from Convair) trying to build a 25-seat commuter propeller-driven aircraft designed for small airfields. The innovative feature was a boundary layer control system that would permit takeoffs and landings at 60 miles/hour. I worked as an analyst doing aerodynamics analysis (performance, stability and control, etc.) with several veteran aerodynamicists, including Bob Gusky, who would play a big role in my life a few years later.

5) I went back to school in September 1964, and Wagner Aircraft folded before the summer of 1965. However, Sunrise Aircraft was formed with new investors and Fred Wagner at the helm, but with few of the Wagner Aircraft employees, and none of the aerodynamicists. I got a summer job there for 1965, doing essentially the same things I had done at Wagner in 1964. Larry F. was the only aerodynamicist at the time and he was happy to have someone help out. I stayed on as a part-time employee in late 1965, and then came on full-time in January 1966 after graduating from SDSU. In addition to the aerodynamics work, I picked up some of the Boundary Layer Control (BLC) work and traveled to Cambridge MA twice for model tests and technical discussions with DynaTech, a technical company. In the end, I wrote a NASA Contractor's Report with the DynaTech people. Unfortunately, Sunrise Aircraft couldn't meet payroll in March 1967, and I kept working there for essentially promises (which never came about) until September.

This was the first real crisis in my life - I had my own apartment, was living the good life, but now had to move back in with my parents and borrow money from the bank. I applied for unemployment, started a job search, had several interviews, and finally accepted a job in Thousand Oaks CA with Northrop Ventura as an aerodynamicist. I was going to start on Monday, 24 October 1967. My plan was to live a month in a cheap motel, eat on my credit card, pay the bills with my first paychecks, and then get an apartment there.

My father had worked at Rohr Corporation in Chula Vista in the 1940's, and still had some contacts there in management, to whom he had given my resume. Bob Gusky was at Rohr then, and my resume passed his desk and he asked the employment folks to set up an interview. Gil from Employment called on Friday morning, 21 October, and asked if I could come down the next week for an interview. I explained that I was starting at Northrop Ventura on Monday - could we do an interview on Friday afternoon? The answer was yes - I put on my only suit and tie, drove down to Chula Vista (8 miles), interviewed, and was offered the job on the spot.

6) I worked at Rohr Corporation (later Rohr Industries, Rohr Inc., and now Aerostructures Group of Goodrich) from October 1967 until August 2002, starting as an Aerodynamicist, then a Senior Aerodynamicist, an Aero/Thermo Group Engineer, Chief of Aerodynamics, Chief of Aero/Thermo and finally as a Senior Staff Engineer. I became an expert in nacelle aerodynamics, turbofan engine performance, thrust reverser design, performance and testing, fluid dynamics, aircraft performance, boundary layers, and FORTRAN programming. I worked on most of the commercial aircraft built by Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Airbus, and traveled all over the USA and Europe. It was a great 35-year career in a good company.

7) After being retired for two years, I went back to Goodrich Aerostructures in August 2004 for two years as a Contract Engineer, working on the Boeing 787 nacelle design and analysis.

One of my favorite sayings is "There are things that happen in a second that take a lifetime to explain." This is certainly true for me - with my job search in 1967, meeting my wife in 1968, and reading Roots in 1987.

What would my life have been like if Rohr had not called me on Friday, 21 October 1967? I really don't know. I would have worked in Thousand Oaks, perhaps met and married a woman near there, or perhaps moved on to Seattle, Long Beach, or some other aerospace center.