June 8, 2007: Edwards' "Mr. Instrumentation"

  • Published
  • 412th Operations Support Squadron

Wing officials dedicated the 412th Operations Support Squadron conference room in honor of Mr. Donald G. “Don” Thomson.   Donald Thomson arrived at Muroc Army Airfield in 1942 as part of a team from Bell Aircraft to support test and development of Bell’s P-59.  He spent his entire 53 year career at Muroc Army Airfield/Edwards Air Force base, except for one year while he worked for Bell in Buffalo, New York. Mr. Thomson retired in May 1995.  A true pioneer of test instrumentation, Donald literally invented a multitude of novel approaches to gathering data on-board test aircraft. Mr. Thomson passed away on June 15, 2005.

In building 1407, Air Force Test Center Public Affairs, the Chief's office houses a heritage wall containing a helmet worn by instrumentation engineer Donald Thomson along with a photograph of him wearing it in 1943.  He first arrived at Edwards Air Force  Base here as a Bell Aircraft Corporation employee to work on the XP-63 program in December of 1942.  Thomson played a major role in the design of new instrumentation systems, redefining the slogan  "state-of-the art," and was widely known as Edwards' own, "Mr. Instrumentation."  At the time of his retirement in May 1995, Thomson had worked in direct support of the flight test mission longer than any other employee in the base's history.

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