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
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
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.
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.