Tales from the Old Professor

SpaceX has their Elon Musk, but we have Dr. Albert Helfrick, aka The Old Professor.

Be sure to review Dr. Helfrick’s monthly contributions to the Section newsletter.  January 2023:  “The End of an Era.”  The last Boeing 747 Jumbo jet rolled off the assembly line December 2022.

Meet Dr. Alfred “Al” Helfrick

Professor Emeritus at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Helfrick has been teaching students since 1969. He was a professor at Embry-Riddle from 1991 to 2015, and, at some point, the department chair of two departments at the same time.

The Tales from the Old Professor series has been an ongoing enjoyable event at the IEEE Daytona Section.  Dr. Albert Helfrick has been presenting his “Night of Potpourri with the Old Professor” every March at our scheduled meetings in the past.  In addition, he regularly writes a column in the Section Newsletter, dating back to 2010 or earlier.

The subjects are historical, hysterical, and sometimes nostalgic but will have a connection to technology and in particular, aviation.

Dr. Helfrick has over 50 years of experience in the avionics field, which includes the design of airborne navigation, communications, navigation, and surveillance, and other technical achievements—the list is extensive. He has authored several textbooks in avionics and aviation instrumentation and electronics, he has published extensively on topics such as aerospace wireless networks, and he holds several patents.

He also did a tour of duty in the military during the Vietnam War! — Thank you for your service, Dr. Helfrick!

In the April 2020 Newsletter we read why black boxes aren’t always black.  International aviation mandates require that the so called “black boxes” on airplanes, more appropriately known as flight data recorders, be painted orange.

The device on the right–the Variable Time (VT) Fuze is the unsung hero of World War II in the fight against the AXIS powers.  Initially used in naval battles, the VT fuze was later made available for conventional land artillery.  More details about this device in the February 2020 Newsletter.

Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925), British Engineer, created what is known as the “telegraphers equations.”  This is a method to overcome signal distortion on telegraph lines exceeding 3.2 km. More about this in the  February 2021 Newsletter.

Who invented the radio?! — No one did.  The Old Professor reports: “Radio waves were always there. In fact, radio waves were called Hertzian waves when Marconi was experimenting with them. Marconi figured out how to generate and use Hertzian waves and got quite wealthy as a result. I would suggest that Marconi’s greatest contribution to the radio art was opening the door to understanding long-range radio propagation from his 1902 tests on the SS Philadelphia. Through that open door, Heaviside and Kennelly entered and pioneered understanding the ionosphere.”  From: January 2021 Newsletter