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Seth Walter GrossmithGrossmith, Seth Walter

January 5, 1922 - March 17, 2017

Source: CAHF

We note with sadness the death of CAHS Ottawa member Seth Walter Grossmith.

"During his long and distinguished career, his dedication to research and experimental flying had improved the future of Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1990

Seth Walter Grossmith, C.D., B.Eng., was born on January 5, 1922, in Montreal, Quebec, where he received his education. At the age of 18, he joined the RCAF. He received his wings and then performed instructional duties until 1942. He spent a year as Flight Examination Officer, then proceeded overseas until 1945. He instructed at Instrument Flying School until 1946, then was released to further his education by attending the refresher course for veterans at Sir George Williams University. He received a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) from McGill University in 1951. He then participated in a technical training course at Westinghouse Co., Hamilton, Ontario, and worked for them as a design engineer on transformers, motors and generators before re-enlisting for military service.

While with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Grossmith completed the Empire Test Pilot's Course in 1954 at Farnborough, England, where emphasis was placed on flight evaluation techniques of new aircraft and preparation of flight and technical reports. He also conducted experimental flying on the English Electric Canberra and Hawker Hunter aircraft programs. His career with the RCN included work with the United States Navy (USN) development test centre, and a tour of duty with a USN Helicopter Anti-submarine Warfare Squadron. His training with the U.S. forces included nuclear weapons safety and delivery systems.

Grossmith served as Executive Officer of RCN Squadron VX-10 with a staff of 75 officers and men whose tasks ranged from operational research to proposing operational doctrines for front line use. The squadron won two safety awards and was officially commended by the Board of the Royal Canadian Navy and the United States Chief of Naval Operations. He also did a tour with the USN HSS-2 Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron No. 10 and was Naval Air Technical Liaison Officer with United Aircraft of Canada Limited for helicopter system development CHSS-2 program. He then became a test pilot for United Aircraft which later became known as United Air Lines following several mergers with other airlines.

From 1967 to 1970 he was a test pilot with Canadair Ltd. on the CF/NF-5 and the Canadair CL-215 water bomber, planning flight test programs, and safety and emergency procedures.

In 1970 he joined the Department of Transport, Airworthiness Project Group, as a test pilot, and was involved in certification programs in Canada, U.S.A. and Europe on more than 25 fixed and rotary wing aircraft as well as glider certification programs in Poland and Finland.

In 1972 he was seconded to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Centre in California, as research pilot on the Augmentor Wing Jet Research Aircraft. Here, he and R.H. Fowler (Hall of Fame 1980) tested the de Havilland Canada (DHC) Buffalo fitted with the augmentor wing and found it greatly enhanced the short take-off and landing (STOL) performance. Grossmith also served on the Advanced STOL Project. Much of the research was concerned with handling qualities and evaluation of airworthiness certification criteria pertinent to propulsive-lift STOL aircraft. Grossmith also participated in studies using the Lockheed C-141 Transport High Altitude Infra-Red Observatory. He also took part in Zero 'G' studies using the LearJet 23.

From 1981 to 1983 he served with the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce engaged in the planning, development and implementation of policies to promote the growth of Canada's aerospace industry. As test pilot for DHC he worked on and demonstrated the Augmentor Wing Research Aircraft at RCAF Station Mountain View, Ontario.

In 1983 Grossmith became Project Leader, Design, for the Airworthiness Manual Project at Transport Canada, where he was in charge of formulating Canadian Aeronautics Code Chapters 527 and 529, Normal and Transport Category Rotorcraft. He was the airworthiness representative to the working group on Aircraft Operating Regulations and Commercial Operations and also participated as flight specialist for briefings on the Lockheed Hercules C-130 Hercules at USAF Systems Command. Grossmith retired in 1986 and passed away 31 years later.

Since earning his wings in 1940, Grossmith flew in excess of 12,400 hours in 170 types of aircraft and had many of his research papers published. In 1987 he was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for "outstanding achievement in the field of air operations in recognition of his significant contribution to aeronautics in Canada as an Engineering Test Pilot." In 1988 he was made a Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute.

Seth Walter Grossmith was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1990 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.