Meet Don Dotson,
Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
I always wondered what made things work, and I "tinkered" with many different things. I enjoyed repairing and riding motorcycles, and making things better. Creating, inventing, improving has piqued my interest and radio has always been at the center of my interests. I tried many different things during my early years out of high school, from radio to commercial fishing.
I received an Honorable Discharge from the Army at Fort MacArthur, California in 1945, and began a career as an Instrumentation Technician for AiResearch Manufacturing Company in January, 1946. I spent approximately 20 years working for AiResearch on three different tours. I worked in Electronics, Flight Instruments, Ground Support and Total Energy (on-site power generation). My first departure from AiResearch was to work for Hughes Aircraft designing test panels for the Falcon Missile series. I returned to AiResearch to work on flight instruments specializing in Cabin Pressure Controls. My second departure from AiResearch was to design a machine for producing precision cams for use in air data computers. As has been the thread of my career, I enjoy challenges that involve new and different ideas.
I went to the University of California, Los Angeles ( UCLA) and became involved in the designing and construction of the cooling system for the Cyclotron they were building. UCLA was in need of this technology as they were advancing in the field of accelerating particles for research.
In both instances, after having left AiResearch, I was enticed to return to AiResearch by different department heads. One department head for Flight Instruments and the other for Commercial Aircraft Ground Support. AiResearch gas turbines were used to supply compressed air and 400 cycles-per-second power to support the aircraft on the ground at the terminal and to start the jet engines. They wanted my expertise, and knew I could not resist a challenge! I returned and was responsible for the design of packaging of the turbines and associated equipment into vehicles as specified by the airlines. The expansion of this program put AiResearch into the field of "Total Energy Systems." Total energy is the concept of on-site power generation, the utilization of heat generated for processing or air conditioning.
In 1965, with some associates from AiResearch, a Total Energy Systems Company was formed. I spent a few years designing power generation systems for on-site companies for Total Energy Systems. This company allowed greater latitude of equipment to be used for power generation. This company dissolved in 1972.
I then went to work for Monogram Industries - designing toilets for boats and/or trains! This project led to the idea of developing a sewer-less house in areas around lakes, etc. After a couple of years at Monogram Industries, I became owner/manager of two apartment buildings. During this time, I worked as a consultant to Monogram Industries as well as performing maintenance for my properties.
Over the years I have been interested in many things. I can remember in 1947, I came across an article of interest regarding a control wing aircraft. This article inspired my thinking that this would be an ideal design for an ultra-light aircraft. Finding the crew at the Wright Flyer Project has stimulated my interests in this field, and I enjoy the camaraderie. I look forward to each get together, as the challenges keep me young. In my spare time, I continue to work on special interest projects such as a Radio Controlled (R/C) model of the control wing concept.