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Meet: Loran Haworth

Engineering Test Pilot/ Research Psychologist
Ames Research Center

Who am I
I'm an engineering test pilot, also an engineering research psychologist. I fly the research helicopters we have here at Ames, and perform man-machine integration studies in our flight simulators such as the Vertical Motion and the Crew Station Research and Development simulators. Much of our research is focused on the human side of what I call visionics or visual avionics such as head mounted displays and night vision goggles. These visionic devices when combined with night sensors allow the pilot to see where he is flying at night.

We work with both civilian and military helicopter operators. On the civil side we are now looking at the introduction of night vision technology for use by Emergency Medical Systems, EMS, operators. If EMS pilots and crew members can visually detect surrounding mountains and obstacles at night, visionic technology can make rescues much safer. On the military side we are working research that will tell us what information the crew member needs to have presented on his head mounted display for flying his vehicle and performing his mission. The head-mounted display is the crew members primary source of visual information so great care is required to make sure that he has the correct information at the right time.

My Career Journey
I have always enjoyed watching planes and decided at a very young age that I wanted to fly. I recall telling my high school counselor that I wanted to get a 4-year college degree, any degree, so I could become a commercial pilot. I saved what money I could while working summers and had enough money to start flying lessons by the time I went to college. At that time it took about 25 hours of summer work to finance one hour of flying, but it was all worth it. I initially went to a small college called Yakima Valley College (YVC) since it was close, relatively inexpensive and more importantly was one of the first to provide pilot instruction as part of the curriculum. YVC was affiliated with the McAllister School of Flying, which was established in 1926. Mr. McAllister was an early aviation pioneer and had obtained one of his pilot licenses from one of the early Wright brothers from what I understand. After I obtained my private pilots license I transferred to Western Washington State University where I later obtained my Bachelors Degree.

At the height of the Vietnam War I was drafted into the Army and the Army me sent to helicopter school. Later I became an instructor pilot in both helicopters and airplanes, and went to the University of Southern California to become a Safety Officer. I applied for the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland was later sent to Edward's Air Force base to work on several flight tests. At Edwards I also provided aerial support for several of the early Space Shuttle recoveries and met several early Shuttle crews. While at Edwards I was one of the first 200 personnel selected for Space Activities by the Army. After Edwards I went to work at NASA Ames for both the Army and NASA and now I am a civilian civil servant working at NASA for the Army. While in the service I also completed a Master Degree in psychology, which in combination with my flight test background helped develop my current work on man-machine integration research.

Why I Like my Job
I welcome the many constantly changing challenges associated with aviation. In addition having the opportunity to fly many types of vehicles, travel and meet interesting people from around the world can be very fulfilling. Most of all however I like the feeling of freedom when flying. But, the job also can be very hard work and extensive travel can be a drawback.

As a Child
I grew up in a very small farming community of Outlook, Washington (near Sunnyside) and was always excited about flying. In my community I joined an Air Explorer Boy Scout Troop which helped me to understand many aspects of aviation to include helicopters. I was also influenced by my high school Biology teacher who was an aviation enthusiast and both of my brother-in-laws who where in the Air Force. Unlike today, many people in my community had never flown in an airplane much less a helicopter so I spent as much time as I could at local airports talking to pilots and instructors. I worked very hard to earn money to both fly and go to college because it was a career focus that I knew I wanted.

I advise students interested in pursuing a career similar to mine to pursue science classes, like physics, biology, math, meteorology and also communications. School subjects are only part of the equation, you must also learn to work with people and at many times be able to lead. In addition you must learn to be confident in your actions without being over confident. As the saying goes "there are old pilots and bold pilots but not many old bold pilots." Most importantly you should have a love of aviation.

Future Plans
I plan to continue working here at Ames and will pursue continued flight research on both new aircraft and future-state-of-the-art cockpit systems such as head mounted displays. As part of a team I plan on developing new methods of test and measures for these new systems.


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