The Loads Group:

  • Establishes the flight envelope for the airplane.
  • Uses data generated in the Aerodynamics Group to determine loads the aircraft will experience within the flight envelope.
  • Write formal reports for submission and approval by the FAA.
  • Analyze the loads, determine critical conditions, write test proposals for structural tests, also for submital to the FAA for approval.

In my nine moths work experience at Cessna, I had never written a loads report. For the Model 23, I authored:

23-LO Basic Data Loads Report (co-authored)
23-L4 Vertical Tail Loads Report
23-L6 Flap Loads Report
23-L7 Landing Gear Loads Report
23-L8 Nacelle Loads Report
23-L9 Control System Loads Report
23-L10 Spoiler Loads Report
23-L12 Fuel Cells Loads Report
23-L13 Landing Gear Doors Loads Report

Larry Magri wrote the Wing, Aileron and Horizontal Tail Loads Report.

Harry Walters wrote the Fuselage Loads Report.

My first hiccup in analyzing the loads was a lack of aerodynamic data for the spoilers. I went to Bob Wattson our aerodynamist. Bob was from Boeing and one of the highest paid engineers on staff. He said there was no wind tunnel data on the spoilers and due to their location on top of the wing, there was no way he would even hazard a guess on what the aero characteristics might be. Finally I told him that either he would produce the data or I would. He refused, so I did.

Once the spoiler loads were established, I went into the kinematics of the spoiler actuation system and made an interesting discovery. If my loads were right, the spoilers would blow-down at high speed. That was a suprise to everybody.

On the 8th flight test of the prototype, Hank Beaird checked the spoiler blow-down schedule I had predicted. At 275 knots, I had estimated the spoilers would only extend 20 degrees, Hank recorded 18 degrees.

My next hiccup came from the test group. Headed by Dave Herman, an ex-Boeing test engineer who also was among the highest paid on staff. The Loads Groups was writing good test proposals, the Test Group was screwing up the tests.

I complained to my boss Don Grommesh. He told me the test group did not work for him and that I should take it up with Hank Waring. I walked over to Hank's desk, sat down and voiced my complaints. Waring must have been aware he had a problem because he replied, "if you think you can do a better job, it is yours."

I was only 23 years old with less than 2 years engineering experience. It was true I had rotated through the test group at Cessna. In my two months there, I had assisted on a couple of structural tests on the Cessna 411, but had never ran a test, let alone manage a program, but there was nothing to lose. I told Hank, "Loren Ralston works for Dave Herman. Assign Loren to me and we will run a good program."

I have no idea how Waring explained this arrangement to Dave Herman but he continued to sit at his desk, drawing his salary, totally out of the loop as to anything related to the structural test program. It was very awkward for everybody.

After we had completed all of the structural testing, I bowed out of the program. Dave Herman went back to Boeing, Loren took over the test group and ran it for the next 25 years.

The airplane was nearing certification, while engineering's work would never be done, the focus would shift to manufacturing and marketing. The company would need a sales engineer and that sounded like a fun job.