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

1929 - 2019

Francis “Frank” Joseph Wagner passed away on May 20 in Arlington, Texas. Wagner, 90, was a VFS Emeritus Member who joined in 1951.

Wagner was born in Jan. 29, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois, to Joseph and Anna Grunauer Wagner. He graduated from St. Augustine High School in Chicago. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Lewis College (now Lewis University) and another BS degree in civil engineering from Tri-State University (now Trine University); he also took post-graduate classes at the University of Dallas.

Wagner was hired by (then) Bell Aircraft in Buffalo in 1950 as a control design engineer, but was soon drafted into the Army for the Korean War. He served from March 1951 to March 1953, primarily at Ft. Eustis, Virginia, supporting the introduction of helicopters into the Army (afterwards, he served seven more years in the Army Reserves).

After demobilization in 1953, Wagner rejoined Bell Helicopter in Ft. Worth, Texas, doing rotor hub and blade design. In the mid-1960s, he became an experimental project engineer and worked on the Sioux Scout, the Model 208 (Bell’s first twin-engine helicopter, a modification of the UH-1D Huey) and Model 204B (UH-1B Huey) upgrades — the 577 and 211 (HueyTug). Wagner was the development project engineer for the Model 212 (UH-1N) Twin Huey and remained with this program through certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and initial production. Wagner became Bell’s director of project engineering and, later, director of vehicle design, retiring in 1990.

Wagner was active in his church, the Knights of Columbus and the Sierra Club. After retirement, he volunteered for 23 years as a tutor at Arlington, Texas, elementary schools and delivered Meals on Wheels.

VFS: Vertiflite July/August 2019