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Right: David Griffin

As a young boy in Britain, David Griffin built dozens of model airplanes. When he was in grammar school, he learned to fly gliders from the Royal Air Force. At the age of 15, he soloed.


David studied at Sheffield University, ultimately registering as a Professional Engineer at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. While he was still at the University, David participated in a five-year professional study program at Fairey Aviation, UK, requiring potential engineers to work through every aspect of aircraft manufacture. This ranged from learning how to use machine tools all the way to aircraft assembly, and finally, work in the design office. Fairey Aviation built cutting-edge aircraft, including the "droop-snoop" FD 2 that established a world speed record and subsequently became the flying lab for the Concorde.


After immigrating to California in 1956, he was barred from work in the aircraft industry because his security clearance did not transfer. He never returned to the aircraft industry. In 1980, he moved to Charlotte to start his own textile machinery company. In 2007, he retired and rekindled his passion in aviation.


Around 2005, he bought a Cessna 150 and obtained his Private Pilot’s License. He then spent six years and about 3,000 hours building a Titan T-51 scale all-metal Mustang airplane. 


David began a bi-weekly aviation course for 7th and 8th graders at Edisto Island School. He installed a flight simulator program onto the school computers and taught the students principles of controlled flight, weather systems, navigation, and communication. He also provided small flying model kits to the students. The program continued for five years until the school reorganized, eliminating those grades. He flew every student in his Cessna 150. 


At Fort Mill High School, he was a regular at Career Day for more then five years, promoting professional aviation in all its forms. David’s influence was palpable. The school later decided to add an aviation course as a part of the curriculum.


David’s most visible project involved students from both Fort Mill High School and Nation Ford High School. Here he taught and supervised engineering and auto tech students in a yearlong project to build a full-sized replica Sopwith Camel biplane as used in the First World War. Students used the school's engineering facilities for design work and construction, and they incorporated both computer-aided manufacturing techniques as well as hands-on construction on the airframe and engine. The aircraft was painted in the colors of the Camel flown by triple-ace Captain Elliot White Springs, a South Carolina native. David and Elliott Close (Col. Springs' grandson) are friends and financed the project together.


The aircraft is currently in the collection of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, located at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and is on prominent display there. 

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