Born: United Kingdom
Primarily active in: United States of America

1939 - 2019

Dr. David St. John Hodder, of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, passed away on April 26. He was 79. Hodder was a VFS Emeritus Member and co-author of at least two papers on wind tunnel model testing.

Hodder was born July 5, 1939, in Radlett, England, the son of the William J. and Constance (Bacon) Hodder. He graduated from the Imperial College, University of London, with a BS in aeronautical engineering in 1961, which included a five-year apprenticeship with de Havilland Aircraft Company. Hodder would go on earn a Master of Science in aerospace engineering (with an interest in wind tunnel testing); later, he received a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) in Engineering Management from the University of Phoenix.

After graduation, Hodder worked for Hawker-Siddeley in the UK and McDonnell Douglas in the US. In January 1966, he joined Boeing Vertol near Philadelphia and the Society. Hodder served as Wind Tunnel Operations Chief, Wind Tunnel Test Project Engineer, Test Program Manager and finally, the manager of the company’s Phantom Works Prototyping Group. According to a colleague, Hodder was a “very talented engineer/designer and wind tunnel model designer. He had a major role in the design and testing of numerous JVX/V-22 scale wind tunnel models [to determine] drag, powered, aeroelastic, etc. He used to ‘fly’ and trim the isolated model-scale rotor tests in our wind tunnel during powered tests.”

Hodder retired in April 1999 and started a consultancy, Rivendell42 Associates, dealing with many aspects of sub-scale aerospace testing, particularly helicopter, tilt-wing, tail-sitter and tilt-rotor components and assemblies, such as wind tunnel models and ground test rotor, prop-rotor, ducted fan and ejector performance test rigs. He was often responsible for project management, planning, design, fabrication, assembly, instrumentation, data handling, calibration, test and evaluation. Hodder also worked on several vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and taught VTOL test technology techniques in many organizations, domestic and foreign.

In parallel, Hodder served as the Director of Test for Dragonfly Pictures, Inc. beginning in 2002. There he directed the testing of UAV components and assemblies on several test stands and conducted performance evaluations. He also operated a small wind tunnel.

Hodder was also a board member of Universal Services Associates, Inc. in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, which co-sponsored an AHS Dinner Meeting at the American Helicopter Museum where he spoke in 2009. According to a 2009 USA, Inc. news article on Hodder, “His wind tunnel model design planning and testing expertise has benefited the programs for the P1127 and Harrier vectored thrust fighters in the UK and virtually all Boeing rotorcraft projects from 1966 to 1993, including several models of Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and XCH-62 Heavy Lift helicopters, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, RAH-66 Comanche and many proprietary projects.”

He was a master craftsman and woodworker and created the sign that welcomes residents and visitors to nearby Valley Forge Mountain. His family noted that he “had a highly intellectual mind, incredible quick wit, a creative nature, and a welcoming personality that was both interesting and out of the ordinary.”

VFS: Vertiflite July/August 2019