One of the great pleasures of editing a monthly aviation magazine is that I get to interact with many industry icons, some of which are my personal aviation heroes. Over the past year, I have the honor to work with someone who qualifies in both categories. It was with great sadness that I received an email in early February that Archie Trammell had passed away just a few months short of his 90th birthday.
In the early 1990s, I was a green pilot and by luck had the opportunity to attend one of Archie Trammell’s radar courses, which at the time were sponsored by AlliedSignal (Bendix/King), the manufacturer of the RDR radar series. By the time I crossed paths with Archie then, he was already well-known for his thunderstorm research and radar seminars. He was also an accomplished journalist having been a senior editor for Flying and editor-in-chief for Business & Commercial Aviation magazine. Being a budding journalist and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, I was fascinated how he combined his passion for aviation, expertise in weather and radar technology with his talent for the written word. Certainly, that fed my desire to become an aviation journalist myself.
Archie made many contributions to aviation safety, and it is impossible to list them all. Here’s my attempt to list the biggest one: It was his life’s work to teach pilots the science of convective weather flying and the proper use of onboard radar. Archie didn’t just regurgitate engineering data, he actually had a hand in creating it. During his employment with Bendix, he helped develop and then test radar systems – not in theory or on a test bench, but in an airplane flying near and into convective weather.
In 1979, he formed his own company and developed a training program to educate pilots on proper radar use. That led to him lecturing worldwide, training pilots who flew U.S. presidents and for the major airlines, as well as thousands of flight departments and individual pilots. His book “Flying With Thunderstorms” contains 150-plus consecutive months of accident analysis, convective storm information and radar knowledge and operational tips. In 2006, NBAA honored him with the Meritorious Service to Aviation award. He also inspired the work of Erik Eliel, another renowned author and lecturer on onboard weather radar use. Archie continued to publish a website free of charge to pilots and write articles for Twin & Turbine through 2017.
It is safe to say his body of work ultimately saved lives. As one pilot wrote on his condolence page, “Tilt up, Archie!”
T & T Turns 21
Twin & Turbine was born in the late 1990s with the intent of publishing content of particular application and interest to the pilot flying cabin-class twins, turboprops and light jets. Its founder, King Air owner-pilot Robert Goff wanted to read about products, operational and piloting strategies, technologies and advice focused on the interests of the accomplished owner-pilot. Goff hired me as one of its first editors to develop this content, and at the time, no other publication focused exclusively on this subset of pilots and its unique needs. That statement is still true today.
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