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Clyde F. Simmerman, Jr.


Clyde was born and raised in Kentucky.   His father and one of his four sisters earned electrical engineering degrees (his sister is also a Virginia Tech grad).  Always fascinated by aircraft and flight in general, Clyde spent much of his young life reading books on aviation and aviation themes (particularly carrier-based aviation), building and flying model a/c, and visiting local airports to see and touch aircraft. 

He chose Aerospace Engineering as a career path and attended Virginia Tech, earning a BS in Aerospace Engineering in 1988.

Upon graduation, he began his professional career at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC) in Patuxent River Md., being drawn by the history and variety of work performed there.  His primary duties were in design and structural analysis for temporary and permanent installations on over a dozen varieties of USN aircraft, both fixed and rotary-wing.  He also served as structural support to a number of flight test programs and was fortunate in being able to audit the courses taught at the US Navy Test Pilot School, fly with an instructor there, and soak up the “sea stories” of all the assembled pilots and aircrew.  The variety of work performed at NATC kept him involved in all aspects of aerospace engineering including a/c performance, testing, and design and evaluation. 

During his tenure at NATC, he frequently acted as a liaison with military airworthiness certification authorities and in the early to mid 1990’s, he began to work with them in what was then AIR-530 (NAVAIR) in Crystal City, Virginia in certification activities involving fixed wing aircraft.   During this time, he also began work on in-service issues and modifications, primarily for the P-3 and S-3 aircraft and was placed in charge of the fatigue evaluation of the EP-3 aircraft.  He planned and aided in execution of numerous component and full-scale aircraft structural tests in this role. 

In 1996, he was asked to take on the challenge of rotary wing aircraft when an acute shortage of engineering talent peculiar to that discipline occurred within the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (NAWCAD); the reorganized and expanded hub of US Navy aviation headquartered at Patuxent River, Md.  Although he’d never had a particular interest in helicopters, he was energized by the fascinating nature of rotary-wing flight and endeavored to master the issues inherent in sea-based rotary wing aircraft.  He immersed himself in the specification, design, building, certification, and maintenance of these challenging machines and was especially engrossed in issues of fatigue life assessment and determination. 

As his experience and knowledge grew, he was assigned as platform coordinator for all structural issues on the H-46 and H-53, as well as V-22, and became an airworthiness signature authority for those aircraft in strength and fatigue.  During this time, he was responsible for myriad issues such as the proper execution of design and certification for a new H-46 rotor head and for planning and evaluating fatigue test of pristine and repaired components.  He performed similar work in the service life determination and service life extension of the H-53E aircraft, amongst many other projects.

He was selected to head of the rotary wing strength and fatigue section at NAWCAD in 2003 and from that position, he worked in support of all acquisition and fielding issues on all USN and USMC rotary wing platforms including the Presidential Executive Transport.  On the basis of his work in developing and promulgating fatigue certification criteria and standards for RW a/c, Clyde was selected as a NAVAIR Associate Fellow in Helicopter Fatigue in 2007.   He was selected as a full Fellow in 2017 in Helicopter Fatigue and continues to serve as a mentor, guide, and resource in that area for all of DoD. 

In 2009, he was selected as the branch head at NAWCAD covering the areas of patrol, trainer, and rotary wing aircraft strength and fatigue.  As such, he oversaw the efforts of the Navy engineering team supporting those platforms.  This branch was responsible for all issues related to the disciplines of strength and fatigue in aviation and the work was extremely diverse and challenging covering everything from concept development and evaluation through certification, fielding, crash investigation, etc.  This position also afforded him the opportunity to return to fixed-wing aviation in addition to rotary wing.

Along the way, he helped author many US and USN military airworthiness standards and specifications for helicopter and aircraft design and fielding, developed design certification criteria for new and novel aircraft structures from all materials including metal and composite.   He has also served as the head of the structures and materials committee for the American Helicopter Society.

In 2008, Clyde was competitively selected as the Technical Director for the Air Vehicle Department at NAWCAD.  This position served as the lead technical authority for an organization of over 1,000 engineers deployed nationally and internationally.   These engineers and scientists are charged with all aspects of cradle to grave engineering support of all USN manned and unmanned air vehicles and their constituent systems.  The department covers all disciplines of aeromechanics, flight controls, structures, materials, and subsystems and he oversees multiple efforts in R&D and S&T as well as acquisition and fielding of systems.  Due to his expertise and broad experience, he is frequently called upon to support and solve special issues in Naval Aviation and has worked on a number of industry/government blue ribbon teams.   He works frequently with other USN Commands and other DoD organizations such as the Office of Naval Research, the USAF, DARPA, and others.  As of his selection to the VTAOE, he still served in this position and relishes the challenges inherent in design and support of all sea-based aviation assets.   Clyde is thankful that his career has afforded him the opportunity to work on an incredible variety of aircraft and issues in a field which has held lifelong interest.  He has continued to take multiple courses throughout his career in fields such as aircraft loads, repair, and accident investigation and plans to continue to do so.  He is also grateful for opportunity to work in nearly every discipline of Aerospace Engineering and to Virginia Tech for the broad education that facilitated his career.

He enjoys woodworking, outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, and restoring antique furniture and tools.  He is also an avid reader of aviation-related technical journals and papers and books on World War II.  Clyde has three wonderful daughters, Hannah, Abigail, and Lily and is blessed with a wonderful wife, Susan, without whose incredible support his career would not have been possible.