It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of Donald Lee Bloom.
Donald was the first test pilot of the Bell 222 Prototype (c/n 47001 - N9988K) and took her up for the first maiden flight on the 13th of August 1976.
He sadly passed away on the 18th July 2017.
Services for Don were held at 12:30 pm. on the 31st of July 2017 at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Don was born in Tulsa Oklahoma on the 23rd of April 1932 and was fascinated with flying from a very young age. His dream of becoming a pilot was put on the back burner when football became his passion during high school and college.
It was during his senior year in college at the University of Houston with a football scholarship where he graduated in 1955, that becoming a pilot became his ambition.
Following graduation he joined the U.S. Navy flight-training program. After his preflight training, Don became a navy cadet and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. His first flight as a pilot was in Pensacola, FL in October 1955. After spending four years flying for the U.S. Marine Corps he became an experimental Test Pilot for Kaman Aircraft 1960-1961.
Don joined Bell Helicopter as an experimental test pilot and development pilot in 1961. Don retired from Bell Helicopter as a senior experimental test pilot 1990, and continued his love of flying as an expert witness in aviation accident trials. His credentials during his career at Bell include first flights and structural demonstrations in the model 577 (super UH-1D), OH-58A, AH-1J, 206L series, 222 and UH-1C. As a Bell Helicopter Engineering Development test pilot, he flew structural demonstrations that were required for military approval.
|Donald Bloom at the controls of the first flying Bell 222|
He was the project development pilot on the first prototype fighter helicopter, the Bell AH-1G Cobra. Don was project pilot on 187 projects between 1961 and 1990, logged 150 flight test projects in chronological sequence, log books reflecting the flying of 102 different helicopters and 15 fixed-wing aircraft. Total flight hours logged are 14,000 plus, of which 6,540 are experimental and development time.
He developed high velocity curves for the OH-58A, and the jet ranger variants 206L, 206L-1, 206L-3, 206B, 206B-1, 206B-3, 204B-4 and the UH-1C. In 1984 the Society of Experimental Test Pilots presented the coveted Iven C. Kinchloe Award to Don for his successful investigation into the spin phenomena of the OH-58A (later identified as loss of tail rotor effectiveness-LTE).
He was the first helicopter pilot to receive this award since its inception in 1958. Recipients of this award are displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum including John H. Glenn Jr., Neil Armstrong and Charles E. Yeager.
Don and Tom Wood, Bell Senior Technical Fellow, were also recognized in 1984 for developing a new understanding of LTE based on flight investigation for which they received the Howard Hughes Award.
This award is given in recognition of an outstanding improvement in the fundamental helicopter technology brought to fruition during the preceding calendar year. The results of this flight data and interpretation of this data is still taught at Bell’s Flight Training Academy today.
The FAA recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years by awarding the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award. Don received this award in 2011.
For 21 years at Bell and 15 additional years since retirement, Don had served as SW Region / FAA Designated Engineering Representative Flight Test Pilot. From his first flight in 1955 through his retirement from Bell in 1990 and after his retirement, self employed, DB Aero, DER and DER consultant activities, expert witness trial and depositions, accident investigations and analysis, and helicopter operations advisor, Don continued to set an example for what the meaning “Master Pilot” is. According to his fellow pilots, “Don does not fly helicopters, he wears them.”
He was a loving son, husband and father.
Don is predeceased by his mother, Georgia Randolph Bloom (1984); father, Fred Miles Bloom (1988); and by his loving wife, Anne Marie Bloom of 52 years.
Don is survived by his children, Susan Bloom and partner, Tammy Upson, Stacy Bloom, Robert Bloom and Todd Bloom; Herb Waldrop (Don’s best friend, long time golf partner, coworker and expert engineer in flying), Cookie Kirschner (Don’s best friend and sister since the age of 12 that shared his love of playing the piano, writing music, singing and flying), and Bubba Applewhite (friend and golf partner).
Offer condolences for the family of Donald Lee Bloom at Lonestar Cremation.
|Photo (c) NavyMom|