Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado on October 6, 1969 · Page 25
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Greeley Daily Tribune from Greeley, Colorado · Page 25

Greeley, Colorado
Issue Date:
Monday, October 6, 1969
Page 25
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Inventor Whitco mb's Happy Just Doing His Work By Barbara Rowes Special to The Washington Post WASHINGTON - Dick Whit comb drives up from Hamp- .ton, Va. lo .Washington maybe once a month ("I stay at (lie Hamillon, 'cause it's nice and cheap"), in his 7-year-old red Volvo, to do business with his bosses at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration headquarters. Sometimes he comes to see- a lawyer, because Dick Whitcomb is in the middle of a 10- year span of patent litigation with giant General Dynamics! over the alleged use of his "in-| verted canoe" design in the Convair 990 transport fuselages (the case is presently before a federal dislrict judge 1 in Norfolk). But Ihe trips are rare because, at age 48 Richard Travis Whitcomb is loo busy doing whal mosl every youngster who dis appears for hours on end into the family basement to build model airplanes dreams of doing someday -- changing the, shapes and looks of American' avialion lo his own private design dreams. Dick Whitcomb has been singularly successful at this singular vocation. He has made two aeronautical design discoveries which have helped push the American airframe industry towards supersonic superiority for generations lo come. I He has lo be chased away from weeks on end of 16- hour days in his 8 million dollar transonic wind tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Cen ter, where he is in charge of 50 employees. He is one of the few .U.S. Aeronaulical scientists who has nearly carle blanche on let-, ting his design ideas take' him I where Ihey want lo go. ("We have lo turn off the electricity to get him out of there," says one friend). Dick Whilcomb is a native of Evanslon, 111. He was influenced early by a grandfather who Theater Week EDITOR'S NOTE - Stacy Keacli is a fine young actor little known to Broadway audiences. He hopes to change that, however, with his starring role in "Indians, 1 ' the Arthur Kopit play set to open on Broadway this month. Jn it, Reach plays Buffalo Bill. By WILLIAM GLOVER AP Drama Writer NEW YORK (AP) - If Stacy Keac'h doesn't crack Broadway's "Who He?" barrier, he can't say lie wasn't warned about the risk. " A rotten profession, terribly insecure, heartbreaking unless you become a star--that's what my father kept telling me," says the actor who in just six years has attained the enviable hut, vulnerable status of a man highly admired within the profession, yet mostly unknown to the public. That might be because of roles in which lie has engulfed a Fiercely energetic personality-- Faislaff, Peer Gynt and the LBJ of that controversial satire, 'MacBird!" Or perhaps it is because he insists on building career in a way he realizes "is antithetical to the American dream of becoming' a star." The 28-year-old Gemini from Savannah, Ga., spurs glib roles in facile, "frivolous" charades, finds "a TV series is just not where I'm at," doesn't even know the address of that shrine of standard thespic ambition, the Actors Studio. He's made only two films in favor of a marathon round of stage challenges. His big opportunity to become Broadway name is "Indians,' play by Arthur- Kopit scheduled to premiere Oct. 13 at the Atkinson Theater. Against a iVild West background, the dra- na examines the white man's reatment of the earliest Ameri- ans. The focal figure is thai oik-hero, Buffalo Bill, playec by Keach. The production . began at Vashington's Arena Stage vhich generated last season's jrize-winning hit, "The Great Vhite Hope," thai won stardom or a similarly · dedicated per- ormer, James Earl Jones. Referring to Buffalo Bill, Keach says: "It is probably the toughest ·ole I've played--a character constantly in turmoil, never a moment when he's off the hook, a man in the midst of emotional, agonizing conflict. But you are never allowed to see that emotional side. "He was a man who wanted o be famous and help people, nd who became so famous he ost sight of his own objectives n terms of social conscience. "He's a man laden with guilt, IB bears all the white man's uilt for what we did to the Indians--much more than most of us feel responsible. A self-ap- lointed martyr--a Christ fig- left farming to become a manufacturer of vending machines. Whitcomb admired the old man's independence and drive --plus the fact he was acquainted with Thomas A. Edison. "I used to sit around," Dick Whitcomb recalls, "and hear stories about Edison. He sort of devel- ' oped into my idol. But the days of independent inventors are just about past. With wind tunnels costing 8 million dollars to build it's impossible to' do anything completely on your .own." "I decided early in life, that I didn't want to work on someone else's problems. I could do that now and make twice my salary in industry. But here at NASA they pretty much consider me a creative person. So they leave me alone to create. In 1943, on graduation with honors in mechanical engineer- in from Worchester (Mass). Polytechnical Institute, Dick Whitcomb was intrigued by a Fortune magazine article extolling the research facilities at Langley Field. He soon found himself working on a design of the B-29 bomber and oilier wartime planes at Langley. He has been there ever sine. In 1954, according to his SUPERSONIC INVENTOR - Dr. Richard Whitcomb doesn't put on airs witli a seven-year-old red Volvo and a modest sail- 1 boat but he creates ways for planes to get through the air faster than ever. He has made two aeronautical design discoveries which have helped push America toward supersonic superiority for generations to come. (Photo by Douglas Chevalier, The Washington Post) I p.m. and relax by watching television or sailing. He is somewhat bitter that other people can put in eight hours and walk away from an office free of concern. He simply cannot turn off his mind through a clock. longtime friend and boss, Laurence Loftin (assistant director of the center), Whitcomb, on intuition alone, applied a mathematical curiosity called "the area rule" in wind tunnel tests he was conducting -- without ever having heard of the area rule. As a result, he devised a fuselage configuration that enabled high-speed planes to p a s s through rhach 1 with a considerable increase of power. The design is in use on all supersonic planes today. "I had the idea," recalls Whitcomb, "as early as 1951. It was like a bulb lighting up but it wasn't out of the blue. I put the fundamental transonic theories of Adolph Buesman (one of the German scientists who came to America after World War II) to work and experiment by testing my streamlined models in the transonic wind tunnel at Langley. It was like Archimedes shouting Eureka when Buesman said 'This is it.' But it was really only the beginning. In most cases I had to convince top management thai my discovery was worth changes involving billions of dollars in aircraft design. For example, before the F-105 was approved, a vice president of Republic Aircraft came down to examine all available data. We spent the whole day together discussing the area rule concept's application. It's rough getting management to change anything that involves so much money. But · this is all part of my job as a modern day inventor." That discovery won him the 1954 Collier Trophy, the highest industry award. Over the years the Collier has gone to people like Glenn H. Curtiss and Orville Wright and Elmer Sperry and Glenn L. Martin and Howard Hughes and William P. Lear and astronaut teams. , This year, 15 years later Whitcomb devised the "supercritical wing," a design which would enable present sub-sonic jets to reach nearly Mach 1, instead of the 85 per cent efficiency they now operate- on. This means culling nearly an hour oui of the present 5-hour transcontinental flights should commercial liners adopt the new wing (unlikely until new models are born, his NASA coworkers say). In most years, this second major discovery would put him in line for a nomination for a unique second Collier trophy. But this is the year man walked on (he moon and few In the industry think it will happen- though many are sure Dick Whitcomb will receive one of the 50 or so annual nominations from his peers in the airframe industry. Recalls Whilcomb: "The Collier committee met me at the airport in Washington and set me up in the finest room--all expenses paid. The Aviation Industry's B a n q u'e t , involving about two thousand people, was held at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, and I was a guest of honor along with ambassadors and ministers from foreign countries. It was the highest point in my life, except that I had forgotten my suspenders at home so I had to pin my shirt to my pants--and that's how I faced Vice President Tv'ixon as he introduced me o the world." Whitcomb also received the Exceptional Service A w a r d rom the Air Force (its highest ·ivilian award); a Distinguished Service Medal from the Na- ional Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA was NASA's ire-Sputnik predecessor); some ines in Who's Who; and an lonorary degree from Worees- er Tech which permits Dick Vhitcomb to call himself "doc- or" at those interminable in- duslry convenlions where peo- )le who invent coke bottle fuse- ages find themselves. "It de- ends on who you're talking to," ie says. "I don't use it with my friends. He also remembers wryly hat he received an increase in dinner invitations "from neigh- jors I had never even met anc lave never seen again." Says Loftin: "Dick is not a mathematical theoretician in he accepted sense.,He is much more intuilive, which is very unusual in scientists. And it has laid off handsomely. He has a lew idea every day. I'd say he's one of the most fertile innovators in the business." Adds Ed Cortright, the research center director: "One o: a bright idea but pursues it fill] a great persistence. In our msiness most publish an idea md let it disappear. Dick's vorking in Iransonics, which is an area where theories just ircak down. So you have to .hink of him as something of an artist. He injects some of Ihe ilements of art." (Loflin remembers lhat in the supercri ical wing work, Whitcomb often spent days with a file and oilier instruments working on he wing edges along witli the model makers.) Sometimes, to an outsider, it seems that one of America's eading aeronautical scientists las paid considerable dues for lis astounding success by de"ending his life in terms of his vork. "People are always saying .hal I ought to have 'more fun,' says Dick Whitcomb. "What hey don't understand is lhat I am having fun. My work is my fun. Can'l lliey understand hat?" He rises at 7 a.m. five morn- .ngs a week and reads the local newspaper as he traditionally ireakfasls on orange juice and toasl. :he great differences abou' Dick is that he not only gets Trophy in 1954, He became deeply involved in a national effort lo build a supersonic .ransporl airplane which would ravel 1,500 miles an hour. He also had a privale research laboratory in which he worked nights and weekends, after put- .ing in 8 to 10 hours in his of- 'ice, in order lo invent some- .hing outside of aerospace. Bui ie was unable lo sell the aulo mobile induslry a more effi cient exhaust system for their engines. He would like lo see applicalion of aerodynamic jrinciples used in the problerr )f the car air-pollution -- anc Dick Whitcomb intends to gel )usy on Ihis idea any day now He did develop a means o! naking sailboats go faster .hough he sold his own 20-fool 'ballery park" model boat. Finally, this year Whilcomb direcled a commiltee of 13i] lss done so only 3 limes: Iwice scientists who developed the! to Europe and once lo Bermuda, supercritical wing (in which the|ln plain fact, says Dick Whit- cross-seclional shape of thevomb. (lie long drawn-out pal- ving has been redesigned for lent suit has cut considerably smoother air flow end faslerjjnlo his lake-home pay. speeds). ! " " "I modified llic shape of lliclvacalions," says Dick Whit-! I have sugar and cream in my coffee in Ihe morning because I need the energy,", lie explains. "Later in the day I'll lave two more cups of coffee )lack because 1 need it as a jick-me-up." He has never, he says, missed day of work because of illness or the unforeseen. Dick Whitcomb does most of ris work right in his office, which resembles a metallic wasteland. His desk is crowded with manufacturers' models of the F-105, F-lll, F-4. He doesn't believe in decorating: 'It's strictly for work." "When I came to NACA, (fresh out of Worcester) I slarled proposing new ideas right oft. My boss was verj understanding; he listened. Bui :ie never found'Ihe lime lo gel my ideas tested. Now I'm tht head and the difference is thai my ideas get tested." There's also a difference in the amount of his paperwork, the number of his meetings and the bureaucratic tape which a companies new ideas. His days vary according lo the progress of his tests. When he has a model in the Langley Wind Tunnel, he stays with it. for a 16-hour strelch, getting his hands dirty wilh Ihe me chanics who often play sly prac tical jokes on him. (An exam pie: a dead bird placed on his desk by a mechanic lo dcpic a supercritical wing lhat didn' work). After winning Ihe Collier DAILY AT THE GARDEN KITCHEN RESTAURANT FIVE STAR LUNCHEON SPECIALS From 95c to $1.10 FAMOUS FOR QUICK SERVICE 119 181U St. [rive in me ever since I was a teenager to find a belter way o do everything. A lot of very nlelligent people are willing lo adapt, but only to a certain exlenl. If a human mind can 'igure oul a better way to do "There's been continual own comfort in sports jackets gray pants and colored shirts He "is ignorant of current fashion because he says he wants to be. Appearance doesn't really interesl him much. He doesn't cook for himsel anymore. He just got Ured o cleaning up. He cats all of his meals oul, or at (he invitation of friends. At home he jusl stocks his refrigerator full ol snacks. As a bachelor in the upper reaches of the government pay scale (about $25,000 yearly a GS-1G) he has bolh (he money and the vacation lo travel. He Mon., Ocl. fi, 19G9 G K E E L E Y TRIBUNE Page 25 but I jusl couldn't s;e (he point of saying yes. "1 guess my background enabled me to prolccl myself against a lot of the pressures that young actors face." And speaking of fame, Keach outlines his own attitude: "I'm not against it, but I want success if it is justified in terms of my work. Duslin Hoffman said something that stuck with me- ic said fame is like a trauma, it shatters your whole sensibilily." His ambition centers upon 'becoming a great actor--and hat means working in great parts that only the slage pro- ides." A leading critic has termed lim "the best of the young ones." an accolade thai rests ighlly upon a brow always furrowing over the core of interpreting character. "I'm becoming ' much more subjective in terms of my work," he says. "I feel il is becoming more rich as a resull. I always used lo be taken up wilh somelhing, lei's do il. 1 can't mastering technical details, ust sit around. I have to hink." Dr. Whilcomb dresses for his creating -characters with a very 'anlastic physical life. II didn'' necessarily mailer whal their inward Ihoughls were." Reach's longest run was sev en monlhs in the Off-Broadwa 'MacBird!" On closing nighi "I found five or six things in the part that I wished I'd found be fore." So he never stops digging now. Keach'traces impetus back to his father's theatrical involve -nent. William Stacy Keach Sr, :ias been an actor, director, eacher, dialogue expert for films, radio-TV producer, and is "SHOWTIME 70" --Lovely Karen Krcsgc welcomes her audiences lo Ihe opening production number, "Showtime '70," at this year's Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies, which will appear at the Denver Coliseum for a 5-day run, Oct. 15th through the 19th. lecls of industrial muvjemiik- ng- During undergrad years at lie University of California, each switched from economics o drama, summered in roles at he Ashland, Ore., Shakespeare "'eslival, travelled on to the Yale Drama School and erupted nlo New York's slage in the ret: Central Park drama festival. As a resull of lhat fledgling lisplay, he was awarded a Ful- irighl for a year of study at the ·ondon Academy of Dramatic Arts, which ranks as the high loint of Iraining. Keach lias the brisk-moving i-fooler build of Ihe ex-foolball ilayer he is, and an energy sup- 'ly that has been inexhaustible -"so far." A few months ago, ic commuted frantically bc- ,ween New York and Great Bar- ·ington, Mass., tandeming a stage assignment and a movie- making stint, "End of the Role." Due for release soon, the film costars him with James Earl Jones. "I grew up in an environmen sufficient to help me underslanc Ihe texture of show business,' he says, "and not be surprisei by some of (lie things thai can be asked. "At firsl a lot of agents wanted me to change my first name -lhal was my grandmother's 'amily name--or lo have some cosmelic work for a hare-lip .hal look four operations. I Student Wins Claim Against Auto Repair Cq. DENVER ( A P ) - A Denver District Court jury upheld Friday Ihe $2,100 claim by a University of Colorado sophomore against a Denver transmission icpair firm. The jury ordered Midwestern Transmission and Gear Company lo pay damages to Russell E. Vigil, 19, of Denver for de- Driving him of the use of his tar. Vigil said in his suit that when he first took his automobile to the firm to repair a leak, the shop set the cost at Between -55 and $18 and told lim to return in two hours. When lie returned, the youth said, he was told need an exchange transmission costing $198. Vigil said he told them nol to work on the car,but when lie returned for the car after an unsuccessful attempt to secure a loan, the shop offered him four choices -- ?198 for the exchange transmission, $90 to reassemble the old transmission, $17 to put his transmission parts in the trunk of the car he would have lo low away or pushing his car into the street. The student said that, as far as he knew, the car had been pushed into the street when he could not redeem it. MOVIE AUDIENCE * * * f-!Ulf)E * * * A Service of Fllm-Makcrs and Theaters. THIS SEAL In ads indicnlcs the dim was submitted JUKI jipproved under the Motion Picture Code "f Seir-Ksgnlntlon. fjjn SiiKgestuit for G E N E R A L '--' audiences, [jjjjj SlIKRCStPd tor M A T U R E -- audicMK'.efl (imrental dig. cretloli advised). r^| R E S T R I C T E D -- Persona I--' under 17 not admitted, unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian. ® Persons under 17 not ad- milled. Printed as a public service by thiu uowspapar presently active in assorted as-could understand such requests, ' HARRY NOVAK PRCSFNT-i take very few structured | .ions," says Dick Whit- ving myself as we tested it," comb. "Actually I prefer week- le says. "It's just plain easier| C nd trips lo Washington and his way. In fact, my reputation 'or filing the wing's shape has iccome so notorious that the eople at North American which will build a test plane next year for it) have threatened to provide me with a 10- oot file lo work on Ihe real airplane also." "When I find a problem, I l e e d ' t h e solution," says Dick Whitcomb, "I sense it's there and I have lo get at il. Although I'll have oilier things to worry aboul, I always have this Lin- irritating feeling. It's a nagging sense that I've got to solve the problem--no matter what." He sits with his feel iip on (he desk and continually thinks of work asking "Why, Why?" Insights don'l simply spring into lis mind. He has to feed it first. He can't quit work al 4:30 New York, and I'm out on the Wesl' Coast a lot for business. I also try to visit my sister wilh her seven daughters ill least once a year in Brockton, Mass. It's not that. I don't, do anything but work. It's just that I don'l lake Ihe conventional vacalion very much--although I am dying lo visit Indii,- where the cullure is different. I wanl lo see somelhing different. Europe has too many American signs." Dick Whitcomb has become so busy, in fact, lhat he has had to lessen his community involvements in the local Peninsula Community Theater Association for which he was vice president for business affairs, and the Peninsula Civic Opera Assn. where he was drafted onto the board. His friends are by and large, artists, musicians and from among top NASA management. iFHOMtHE DfWLCTOR Wh SHIPSTADS JOHNSON 1970 JAMES PARENTING) S-UOME EISA NANCY JENS - LANCHESTZR · MARCHAND ENDS TUES. By the time he was 14, he had learned too much. 352-0245 '706 Eighth Ave. STUART LANCASTER TirfANV LANEj ANTOINETTE MAVNARD EA.sTMAfi.eQi.oK 7:00 and 10:40 ASSASSINATION BUREAU 8:30 CINEMA 35 113 E. Oak Ft. Collins, Colo. me A film by Gordon Porks bosed on his novel. HEAR IHE TITLE SONG AS RECORDED BY 0. C. SMITH Oct. 15 fihru!9 )Wed. T!iurs.8P.M./ Fri. 8:30 P.M. Sat. 2:00 8:30 P.M. ^ Sun. 2:00 j ^ 6:00 P.M./ $.«{ PR'CES ^*m Boxi "»»' Lower Balcony $4.50 Upper Balcony 53.50,53.00,52.50 HALF PRICE FOR JUNIORS 16 years and under Wed. * Tliur. 8 P.M. Sat. Matinee, 1. P.M. SPECIAL PRICES for Groups and Organizations Write Ice Follies P.O. Box 94 Denver 80201 Get Tickets At ZALE'S JEWELERS, GREELEY JUST LIKE MBY'S! Greeley and LIGHT SALE Monday, Get ©fit PLEASE TURN ON YOUR PORCH LIGHT Only (Monfort's Beef Exclusively) D e e - l i c i o u s ! Thinly-sliced TOP ROUND OF BEEF . . . served with hot natural gravy on a warm sesame seed bun. Dill pickle slices, toot This is not fried food . , . it's real old-fashioned top round of beef . , . roasted to savory perfection! Try this mouth-watering sandwich . . . only 69c. (Orders packed to take home. Call 352-9833.) WEST 9th ST. Dial 352-9833 Harry Cameron's 0 BOY DRIVIN

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