Aviation Background of Dan Allison
After graduation from high school in June of 1967, Dan joined the US Air Force starting basic training in July of that year. Dan was then assigned to aircraft maintenance training at Shepard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. After completion of this training in 1968, he was transferred to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada and was assigned to an F100 squadron. Duty tasks were to crew and maintain several F100 D and F aircraft largely performing line maintenance. While stationed at Nellis, Dan also studied jet engine maintenance, received a secondary job rating, and became proficient on the J -57 power plant.
In the fall of 1969, he received orders to Tuy Hoa AFB in the Republic of Viet Nam. Prior to transfer he was assigned several courses in survival and evasion, crash recovery and crew extraction, jump school and explosive handling. After arriving in Tuy Hoa, he was initially assigned to an F-100 squadron and after a month in country was reassigned to an air rescue squadron tenured at the base. Throughout the assignment at Tuy Hoa, participated in rescue missions throughout the I corps and II corps area of South Viet Nam.
As part of the withdrawal program from Viet Nam in September of 1970, Dan was assigned to England AFB in Alexandria, Louisiana. There he was reassigned to an F-100 squadron whose primary task was heavy aircraft and line maintenance, also including the maintenance and troubleshooting of the J-57 engine. During my assignment there, he also worked on T 37 trainers preparing them to be transferred to the South Vietnamese Air Force.
After several months, he received orders to Bitburg, Germany where and was assigned duties as a crash recovery specialist in the Aero Recovery shop. He was given extensive training on the F 4 C/D Phantom aircraft as well as the J-79 engines that powered them. Duties consisted of recovery and rescue of aircraft that had been lost due to mechanical failures, flight control system rigging, and major repair functions. Dan was part of a small group that performed major overhauls repairs and modifications on these aircraft. During my four years at Bitburg AFB, he traveled extensively throughout Europe repairing and recovering aircraft that had either suffered damage or had crashed. He often became part of the safety investigation teams assigned to the crashes and saw duty in France, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Yugoslavia, Israel, Luxemburg, England, Spain, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Later at Bitburg AFB, Dan was exposed to his first civilian aviation crash investigation when asked to be part of the joint team assisting in the recovery of Flight 981, a Turkish DC-10 that crashed just outside of Paris after the rear cargo door latch system had failed. During his tenure in Germany, he attended the Operation Bootstrap program, which allows enlisted personnel to attend college courses in order to rise through the ranks to become an officer. He attended classes at the University Of Amsterdam in Holland and successfully received a degree in Psychology. During the last 6 months of his military career, he entered the Operation Transition program and was given extensive training by the Air Force in the telephone and satellite communications job market.
Dan made the decision not to reenlist for a second time and to return to peruse a civilian carrier in the mental health field. After arriving back home, he was met with several major challenges and found that the job market for returning veterans was almost non-existent and decided to attend Airframe and Powerplant courses at Columbus Technical Institute in Columbus, Ohio and received an Associates Degree in Aviation Technology. As part of continuing educational goals, he attended courses at Ohio State University working towards becoming a group counselor and therapist.
After completion of his degree program at Columbus Technical Institute he was unable to find suitable employment and moved to Park Forest, Illinois to further my mental health career. There he attended Prairie State, Governors State, and University of Chicago while working at Southwell Institute as a teacher tasked with the oversight of 19 students ranging in age from 6 to 19 with varying psychological problems. During this time, he also completed practicums at Manteno State Mental Hospital, and Juliet State Penitentiary, and manned a suicide hotline program. After successfully completing my program requirements, Dan again found the job market unfriendly to veterans and turned to the more accepting aircraft maintenance job market.
His first civilian aviation job was with Tratta Aircraft Services at the Chicago Hammond Airport where he was tasked with the normal Airframe and Powerplant work that any new aircraft mechanic was asked to perform. He gained skills on the Piper, Cessna, Mooney, Ballanca, Swift, MU2, and Gulfstream lines of aircraft. While employed at Tratta, he also continued work in the mental health field part time, working with returning Viet Nam Veterans and helped to form what became one of the first Viet Nam Veteran outreach programs in the nation.
Upon accepting a job offer in St Louis, Missouri, Dan continued my work both in the aviation community and in the mental health field helping to form a Viet Nam Veterans support group in St Louis. He worked at Omar Aviation at the now defunct Arrowhead Airport becoming the Shop Foreman, running the Grumman aircraft service center, and overseeing the flight-training department. While employed at Omar Aviation he maintained such unusual aircraft as a Grumman Goose, Grumman Widgeon, BE -18, T-6, T-28 and a Stearman aircraft.
After approximately a year, he was recruited to become the Foreman at Saint Louis Beechcraft were he was extensively trained on the full Beechcraft line of aircraft including the PT 6 and Garret 331 engines that were being operated on the equipment that we were tasked to maintain.
The next year he was asked to interview with Ozark Airlines whose main base was at Lambert Field in St Louis. Dan was accepted and worked in the dock area for some time. He was system trained on the Ozark F-27 fleet and the Rolls Royce Dart engine. After the phase out of the F-27 fleet, he was put on the pressure bulkhead team and was tasked with replacing and repairing the rear pressure bulkheads on the DC9 fleet. Dan was also tasked with being part of the landing gear trunion attack team replacing cracked and broken landing gear wing attach points in the DC9 fleet. He attended the JT9D engine school and DC-9 systems schools while employed there. He then became a line maintenance mechanic until the TWA merger, which led to major layoffs.
Dan then accepted a job offer with Tailwind Aircraft in Elbert, Colorado. At that time, their primary focus was working on major sheet metal repair and antique aircraft restoration. They also had a contract with several FAR Part 135 companies to provide maintenance on their fleet of aircraft. This provided him the opportunity to hone his skills on a wide range of general aviation aircraft makes and models. During my tenure there, he started to provide engine overhaul and repair services on both the Lycoming and Continental series of engines. It was during this time that he also purchased a ranch and began cattle production. Since the prospects of returning back to work with TWA were slim, he chose to stay in Colorado.
After approximately a year, Dan was offered a position as Shop Manager at Atlas Aircraft Corporation located at the old Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado. They provided a full-scale line of services for most piston series aircraft. Atlas was also a sales and service facility for Piper Aircraft. Dan was factory trained on the entire line of twin-engine Piper aircraft including the Ted Smith Aerostar series. While employed there, the Air Traffic Control strike took place and when President Reagan fired the controllers our business dropped off to nothing forcing the company to lay off its entire workforce.
Dan picked up some adjunct employment maintaining several Piper aircraft used in FAR Part 135 freight operations until they went out of business approximately 3 months later due to the controllers strike. He then began to focus full time on my ranch.
Dan received an offer shortly after from Wings of Denver Flying Club based at the then Arapahoe County Airport to become their Service Manager and Head Maintenance Technician for the operation. The club consisted of approximately 45 aircraft ranging from small single engine aircraft to twin-engine Cessna and Piper trainers. We provided a complete line of services including major overhaul of Lycoming, Continental, and Franklin engines. We also performed major repairs on airframes, including Dope and Fabric work on several antique aircraft that were owned by the partners in Wings Of Denver. He employed between three to five full time employees at any given time.
After approximately 18 months, He was approached by PMC Corporation, based at Centennial Airport, to become their full time Private Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Dan became the centerpiece for their operation but in the first weeks he maintained a Mooney Mustang and a Piper 602 P. The company then purchased several FAR Part 135 operations. With that came a fleet of 303, 421, 402 and 404 Cessnas. We branched out into the private jet field with the purchase of a Hanza 320. Dan became the last factory trained Hanza mechanic in the US and also received extensive training on the GE 610 series engines. After some time, our fleet expanded and a Canadair 602 was purchased. Again he received extensive factory training on both the Canadair aircraft and GE CF-34 series engines. We then acquired a Short Brothers 330 aircraft for our short haul freight operation.
Dan was factory trained on the airframe and on the PT-6 series engines and performed basic line maintenance on our jet fleet as well as basic field maintenance on the engines used by our jet fleet. At the time of the acquisition, he was attending Aero Commander series airframe training. Dan was also responsible for negotiating contracts with the larger freight operations such as DHL. After a contested acquisition of PMC cooperation, most of the original members were let go and had to seek employment elsewhere.
Dan accepted a position with Ohio University in Athens, Ohio as the Airport Services Manager in 1985. He was responsible for the entire fleet of 34 University aircraft including Cessna, Piper and Beechcraft planes, both single engine and multi engine. Dan was also responsible for the maintenance on the University’s private aircraft, a King Air 200. He acted as the main maintenance liaison with their FAR Part 141 operation, which included curriculums from private pilot certificate to ATP and Commercial ratings. He was tasked with monitoring the quality of fuel sales, over a million dollars of aircraft inventory, the regulatory interface with the local FAA Office in Columbus Ohio and the interface between the maintenance programs and the University. While we did provide some basic services for the general public, it was not our primary responsibility.
The Columbus Flight Standards District Office then recruited Dan after cooperating with them during an aircraft accident that occurred at the University airport with one of the University aircraft.
In August of 1986 the FAA notified him that he had been selected for an inspector position at the Riverside, California Flight Standards District Office. This began a 29 plus year career with the Federal Aviation Administration.
While in Riverside, as a Principal Maintenance Inspector he was responsible for the oversight of numerous FAR Part 135, 137, 145, 121, 141, 147 operations. This included accident and incident investigations and the review of complaints. Dan was also responsible for the oversight of the War Bird and Air Racing operations located at the Chino Airport. He was tasked with the oversight of the two largest jump zones in the US at the time in Parris, California and Lake Elsinor, California. He was asked to be part of the investigatory team by the National Transportation Board after the Twin Otter crash at Parris on April 23, 1992, where the casualty rate was 19 dead and several severely injured. It was there that he gained working knowledge of the Twin Otter aircraft and its systems. Dan was also on a team that evaluated the use of seat restraints for jumpers while operating in the skydiving environment. This included testing several designs at the test sled area at the FAA test center in Oklahoma City. He was responsible for the oversight of several large FAA Certified Repair Stations including a B 747 repair Station housed at the old Norton AFB providing Station 41 inspection and repair, General Electric engine operation at Ontario Airport and Rohr Industries located in Riverside, California where they produced inlet duct acoustic panels for P&W, GE, and Rolls Royce engine applications. Dan was instrumental in a major investigation of the GE Facility after the Sioux City United DC 10 crash on July 19, 1989. The center engine housed in the tail that disintegrated causing the crash had been overhauled in that facility. He was trained on the CF-6 engine series and was current at the time so he was asked by the National Transportation Safety Board to do a through review of the maintenance and transport procedures for that engine. Dan was system trained by Rohr Industries on the building and assembly of large composite commercial jet cowl hush panels. It was also during this time that he attended two FAA sponsored training programs on the inspection, repair, and overhaul of composite structures. During my tenure at Riverside, he was asked to provide my expertise on many national in-depth inspections throughout the United States, such as the Pratt and Whitney Corporation FAR 145 Repair Station In Connecticut. The focus of this inspection was the procedures for the overhaul and assembly of PW 4000 and 2000 engines. Dan was part of a large investigation into bogus aircraft engine parts that led to the conviction and prison sentence of several persons who were using automotive parts for the rebuilds of Franklin Engines. Dan was involved in the C-130 firefighting program located at the Hemet Valley Flying Service and was tasked with the oversight of the approved Maintenance Programs for those aircraft. After the fatal crash of one of these aircraft, he was asked to participate in an NTSP investigation into maintenance programs and engine requirements that led to widespread changes in the firefighting industry. Dan was the PMI for the California Forest Service based in Ontario airport. He had oversight for several large FAR Part 135 Operators using Casa 212 aircraft.
Dan had oversight of an FAR 125 operator using a Viscount aircraft chartered to haul Rock and Roll groups over the US. He had oversight of a FAR Part 135 operator using G-1’s to haul music icons all over the US and South America. He was responsible for the geographic oversight of Legacy FAR Part 121 Airlines in Palm Springs, California as well as the Ontario Airport. Dan attended the Bell Helicopter Systems School in Dallas, Texas. He also attended B 747 systems school. While based in Riverside, gained a deep knowledge of various other aircraft systems, engine types, and maintenance programs used by both small and large operators.
In 1994 he was transferred to the Indianapolis Flight Standards District Office to provide oversight of the new United Airlines Maintenance base being built at the Indianapolis Airport. This included the B 737, B 767 and B 757 fleet. One of my first duties after arrival at Indianapolis was to be part of the ATR 72 Roselawn crash investigation. Dan was also asked participate in the oversight of the USAir Repair facility at Indianapolis. The main focus of their maintenance facility was the B 737 and Fokker F 27 Fleet. It was during his tenure at the Indianapolis Flight Standards District Office that he received B 737 systems training from US Air. Dan was also responsible for geographic oversight of the Fed Ex sorting area located at the Indianapolis Airport. This exposed him to the DC-11 fleet and received systems training on the aircraft from Fed Ex. He was also responsible for the Value Jet surveillance and sub base and surveillance on the Ryan Aviation B 727 fleet based at Indianapolis Airport. He became systems trained on the B 727 during my tenure.
After the Value Jet crash in Florida, Dan was asked to participate in the FAA in-depth evaluation of the Value Jet DC 9 fleet which took me on the road and was temporarily assigned to AFS 1 as a systems expert. This resulted in being asked by the administrator to participate in the 90 Day Safety Review in Washington DC and his subsequent assignment to the development of AFS 900. Part of his job was to certify and review new entry Air carriers such as Sky King Airlines, Planet Air, Access Air, Hooter Air, and the new Ozark Airlines. During his tenure with AFS 900, he was system trained on B 717, Air Bus 319, 320, and MD88 aircraft and was also systems trained on GE CF 56 engines and attended training at the GE factory. Dan was part of major aircraft accident investigations as well including the Fine Air crash in Miami, the Value Jet Crash in Miami, and the B 737 flight 427, crash in Pittsburg.
Dan was instrumental in investigating the Certificate Management Offices oversight of the Value Jet Certificate in Orlando Florida. He was sent to do an in depth review of the Value Jet repair facility in Florida, Saber Tech. He was also tasked with reviewing several foreign repair stations in Costa Rica. Dan also participated in the investigation of hard rudder occurrences on the B 737 fleet.
While detached to AFS 900 and in particular CSET (Certification Standardization Evaluation Team), Dan was a key member of several working groups in which we developed programs such as System Safety and ATOS (Air Transportation Oversight System). He was part of the working group that brought ISO 9000 to the Flight Standards environment and also attended the Boeing Aircraft Human Factors Training as part of my membership in the many workgroups.
After 7 years of being assigned to AFS 900, he was offered a position as an Assistant Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During my 5 years in Grand Rapids, He was responsible for the hiring and training of approximately 25 employees. His main emphasis was to provide the money and resources for the Inspector work force to do their surveillance. Our office also interfaced with Simmons Airlines maintenance facility and Kalitta Air who operated a B 747 fleet. Their main maintenance base was at the old KI Sawyer AFB in Marquette, Michigan. During the time he was based in Grand Rapid Flight Standards District Office, he was exposed to a number of fatal aircraft accidents.
Dan was also tasked with geographic surveillance of the Grand Rapids Airport. It was during this time that he received FAA training on investigating helicopter accidents. He interfaced with the National Parks Service in Michigan during the development of the ATMP program (Air Tour Management Program). Dan was exposed to a vibrant Agricultural Aircraft environment while tenured in Grand Rapids, which helped him understand the intricacies of that industry. While this position was not technically based, it did give him the experience of managing people, budgets and training requirements needed for the employee work force assigned directly under my supervision.
In 2007 Dan was selected as the Manager for the Rapid City Manager position. Again most of his responsibilities were directed to the management of the personnel in the office, which varied from 10 to 15 employees. After his arrival he was asked by the Regional division Manager to be the chairman of an in-depth inspection of a FAR 121 Air Carrier operation based in the Minneapolis CMO. This review took approximately a month and resulted major changes within the company structure.
During my time as manager, he personally interfaced with various state government entities working with the state on projects of interest to the South Dakota aviation community. Some of the most important projects were the oversight of the ATMP Program at Mt Rushmore and the operation of the only Helicopter sightseeing operation in South Dakota. During my time as the Manager, he attended the South Dakota Aviation Commission Meetings at the State House on a quarterly basis participating as a working member of that group.
Dan also participated in an active workgroup with persons from Mayo Clinic, the MAAA (Minnesota Agricultural Association) and members of the wind industry in South Dakota and Minnesota on the problem of MET (meteorological) towers. The placement of these MET Towers was not being coordinated with local State government, FAA or users of the airspace in and around active areas where wind turbines were being considered. These towers were not marked on airway charts, they were not painted, and the cables holding them up were not marked with any lights or form of visual safety devices. They were primarily placed in areas where heavy concentrations of agricultural aviation activity were present. Several aircraft did run into these towers with resulting fatalities. The team met over an 18 month period and provided recommendations to the FAA and to the wind industry. The end result was that several states passed legislation banning the use of these towers unless certain criteria were met. Since this group has disbanded and the knowledge of these towers has been made known to the public, there have been no accidents within the aviation community. Dan is quite proud to have educated the FAA on this danger and to have participated in such a vibrant team of aviation professionals.
Dan participated in an active aircraft investigation as a joint member of the NTSB on an aircraft accident near Highmore, South Dakota where four persons died after flying into an active wind turbine. It was discovered that this set of turbines were not marked on any local aeronautical charts and were as close as five miles from an active airport. While participating as a team member on this accident, Dan gained a more extensive knowledge of the wind turbine industry and how the turbine parameters could affect the aviation community. This also included the technical standards of the wind turbine and the effects that they have on those around them.
During his tenure at the Rapid City Flight Standards District office, he had surveillance responsibilities during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This included the operation of various types of aviation activity one might expect during such an event. However, over the past two years, the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) activity increased exponentially, causing a real aviation hazard. He became deeply involved on a national level with the regulation of these types of activities and also worked with several National and State parks developing processes on how to handle these types of UAV activities. Since the Badlands and Mt Rushmore were in our district, he became active in the enforcement and surveillance of these activities. At one point Dan traveled around the entire state of South Dakota meeting with law enforcement teams, prisons, city Police Departments, local state governments, city councils, and State Government officials in developing current guidance and rules governing these types of activities.
He was active in the rapid growth of new entry certificates coming to South Dakota due to the state’s push to bring in more aviation activity. The office increased its complexity over 54% within a two-year period. This type of movement into the office caused a need for more personnel and more resources.
The FSDO was experiencing a high rate of Agricultural accidents, both fatal and serious. After his active participation, a team consortium was formed consisting of FAA persons and representatives from the South Dakota agricultural community to take an in-depth review of the causes of these accidents. The outcome was that we were able to bring down the accident rate by 38% in just one year. This was accomplished by forming a working consortium of operators working with the office to review and make recommendation as to how to operate in the agricultural environment using risk management techniques.
During this period of time, Dan actively visited with every operator in the district to show my support for their industry and to get a feel for what they faced in helping to feed a world population as South Dakota is considered the breadbasket of the world.
While his tenure at the Rapid City Flight Standards District Office was administrative in nature, he was still able to use the vast skill and knowledge he had gained during forty nine years in aviation to assist the aviation community. But most important to him was the opportunity to pass on that knowledge to a future generation of Inspectors.
While Dan have covered many aspects of his in depth systems training, he also would like to mention his extensive Agency Training including but not limited to all accident investigation courses, management courses, and other provisional subject matters germane to 29 plus years of FAA employment. To this he would add that he currently holds an Airframe and Power Plant Certificate as well as an Inspection Authorization. Dan is familiar with most auditing programs and have a full understanding of most Quality Assurance and Quality Management Programs used in the aviation environment.
It is his hope that he has captured in some small measure, the experience level that he had over a vast and full career in aviation.