By Staff Writer | November 1, 2005
IF IT IS TRUE THAT ONE SHOULD wish well for friends and family, then our wishes at Rotor & Wing have been coming true in spades. But before I explain, let me make good on an outstanding debt.
I am long overdue in welcoming back to R&W’s pages a talented and distinguished contributor. T.B. "Barney" O’Shea rejoined the ranks of our correspondents back in May at the American Helicopter Society International’s Annual Forum near Dallas. He’s written several reports on helicopter developments in Australia (where he is based), New Zealand and the western Pacific since then.
Normally we’d announce a writer’s return or debut with his or her first new piece, but frankly Barney’s kept me pretty busy digesting and publishing all the copy he’s generated. That’s not too shabby a feat for anyone, let alone a fellow who joined the British Army as an armorer apprentice in 1945 at the age of 14.
That was the start of what would become a storied career that took Barney to assignments in 25 countries and on every continent save South America. He took part in the handover of five nations that became independent of the United Kingdom and helped set up military units and technical education programs in those and other nations.
Much to your benefit and mine, he was assigned by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, the corps that provides the technicians and organization to support all arms of the British Army, as one of 15 aircraft artificers (that is, extensively trained senior technicians) to introduce helicopters into the army’s Air Corps. Helicopters came to be one of Barney’s great loves (the other being his family).
He went on to serve as engineer of the U.K.’s first all-helicopter reconnaissance flight and to help establish organizations worldwide to support British Army aviation. He also was assigned as engineer officer for the Royal Marines Commando Brigade Aircraft Squadron, made up of Sioux and Scouts, which was the first army squadron to operate from a commando aircraft carrier. Barney served as Warrant Officer Air for British Army’s Headquarters Far East, during which he was responsible for the evaluation, standards, maintenance planning and supervision of more than 100 helicopters in 20 different locations. He went on to assist in the establishment of the Australian Army Aviation Corps’ organization and training programs.
Barney settled–if that word can be applied to him–in Australia. He certainly didn’t rest on his considerable laurels. In addition to serving as a Royal Australian Air Force reserve officer, Barney continued teaching, becoming a senior technical teacher for Victoria’s’ Education Dept. (He’d served as the first lecturer in aerodynamics for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers’ School of Aeronautical Engineering.) Today he is a guest lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and other universities. At the Melbourne school, he lectures graduate and post-graduate students in all aspects of vertical flight, particularly development, advanced aerodynamics and structures.
In his spare time, he set up youth outdoor adventure programs as well as five chapters of the Society of Licenced Engineers and Technicians, including one at the U.K. Army Aviation Center, before that group was melded into the Royal Aeronautical Society. He was named a fellow of that society, which Barney believes is one of the rare cases–perhaps the only case–in which that honor was granted to a member of the military who was not a commissioned officer. (Barney retired from the British Army as a warrant officer first class.)
Of all his honors and accomplishments, Barney considers his top achievement to be his 1998 Gruppo Agusta International Fellowship, which AHS awards to honor "the most significant contributions to international vertical flight cooperation by an individual or group."
Looking back, Barney observes, "my career could not have been better laid out if set up by computer."
We look forward to benefiting from his background, expertise and observations for a long time.
As for our wishes, good things have happened recently to two of our correspondents.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Colby, author of our "Military Spin" column, took command Aug. 16 of that service’s 34th Weapons Sqdn. based at Nellis AFB, Nev. The squadron trains candidates to the highest level of combat search-and-rescue helicopter instructor-pilot proficiency, including special-operations forces integration and CSAR task force operations using various fighter platforms as escort and strike. Its graduates become squadron and wing weapons officers responsible for training instructors at the operational-unit level in advanced tactics and for managing tactical training and weapons programs.
We hope you’ll join us in wishing him the best in this new, critical assignment.
Shawn Coyle, who pens our "Tech Talk" column, recently was named chief of flight operations for Agusta Aerospace Corp., AgustaWestland’s U.S. subsidiary.
An accomplished author and pilot, Shawn had been flying in Mojave, Calif. for the EMS operator Mercy Air. Trained at the U.K. Empire Test Pilot School, Shawn has served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and the original International Test Pilot School in Cranfield, England. He also worked for Transport Canada as an engineering test pilot, doing certification flying on the Bell 407, 430 and 427.
Please join us in wishing him well, too.