AEROSPACE BACKGROUND REVIEW
Richard Harris is a former aeronautics instructor and pilot, who has flown a number of different personal aircraft, of different makes and models, from gliders and ultralights, to the Piper Cub, to fixed-gear Cessnas, to speedy Mooney and state-of-the art Cirrus aircraft, to the 600-horsepower, aerobatic T-6 Texan. He has sampled flight in biplanes, warbirds, transports and jets, and worked on -- or with -- dozens of different light aircraft and their systems.
With a lifetime spent studying aircraft, Richard can identify virtually all significant American aircraft (and many foreign aircraft) on sight, with the ability to describe them and their history in detail. His familiarity with the industry is deep and wide, having worked for three aircraft manufacturers, an airline, an airport, and various other aviation enterprises. His aviation research and writing has ranged from news articles for international magazines, to histories of early aircraft, to developing manufacturer's operating manuals for the latest jet aircraft.
Richard has studied, literally, a ton of aviation books, aviation perodical articles and government aviation documents -- including hundreds of aircraft test pilot reports from his private aviation library. (His library contains thousands of additional items: aircraft manuals, books, magazines, brochures, photos, reports and documents).
|Left to right: Harris with Bombardier/Learjet chief demo pilot Rick Rowe, Astronaut Eugene Cernan (last man on the moon), Bombardier Business Aircraft (Learjet / Challenger) President Steve Ridolfi, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, and Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.|
But Richard's knowledge also comes from personal visits and interviews with hundreds of aerospace professionals -- including industry executives, government officials and military leaders, engineers, technicians, pilots and astronauts.
While his degree is in Business Administration, Richard holds a wide range of educational credentials, including a minor in Communications (journalism & broadcasting; for more information on Richard's communications background, click here), graduate-level studies in Public Administration, and technical training in engineering and aeronautics. His FAA aeronautical instructor's license is complemented by a state teaching certificate in adult education.
A member of the American Aviation Historical Society, Richard has lectured on aerospace history at two universities, and provided research for the public-TV documentary "The Barnstormers," (praised by FLYING Magazine, General Aviation News and Airport Journal ) — and apppeared as an aviation expert in other films and television shows. He's taught aerospace technology for the Wichita Free University program, and taught aviation technical writing for the Wichita Area Technical College. He developed an FAA-sponsored pilot safety seminar, and provided research assistance to a NASA public-information program.
Based in Wichita, Kansas -- the "Air Capital of the World," where more aircraft have been built than in any other city on Earth -- Richard has worked for various departments at all of Wichita's major general-aviation aircraft manufacturers (Cessna, Raytheon/Beech and Bombardier/Learjet) -- including work in planning, engineering, marketing, technical publications, administration and technical support. He has been a member of the Wichita Manufacturers' Association, and twice a member of the World Trade Council of Wichita. His aviation background includes work as night manager for an airport, technician for two aircraft-instrument companies, and coordinator of an airline support department.
Additionally, Richard has served in several posts in the Civil Air Patrol (the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary), including as Flight Commander, Operations Officer, Information Officer, Aerospace Education Officer and instructor.
|Harris with the world's fastest airplane, the hypersonic (Mach 5+) North American X-15 rocket-plane.|
A selected member of the former Society of Aerospace Communicators, and formally trained journalist, Richard has written for national and international aviation magazines, and has been a correspondent for the Aero-News Network (www.aero-news.net). Since 2001, he has served as a staff writer for InFlightUSA , one of general aviation's leading pilots-only magazines. Richard's articles and essays on politics, business and technology have appeared in newspapers ranging from the Wichita Business Journal to the Chicago Tribune.
In early 2004, Richard was selected by the World Leadership Forum (in conjunction with Britain's Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Aero Club of France) as a "short-list" finalist in the Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (the world's most prestigious awards for aviation writers) -- one of only three U.S. general aviation writers so honored that year. He was selected as a judge for the awards in 2005, and every year thereafter.
Currently, in addition to his writing for magazines and newspapers, Richard operates this award-winning, private aviation-information Internet website, develops pilot training manuals for a leading pilot-training organization and develops aircraft operating manuals for one of the nation's leading jet aircraft manufacturers.
Last updated May 30, 2006.
Images updated Oct 20, 2009.