William A. Schoneberger, Aviation Executive, Author and Historian, Dies in California at 83

Dépèche transmise le 2 septembre 2009 par Business Wire

William A. Schoneberger, Aviation Executive, Author and Historian, Dies in California at 83

William A. Schoneberger, Aviation Executive, Author and Historian, Dies in California at 83

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Author, historian and former aerospace executive William A. (Bill) Schoneberger has died at his home in Santa Barbara following a lengthy illness. He was 83.

A native of Cincinnati, he spent more than a half century participating in and chronicling the progress of U.S. aviation, though never an aviator himself. He was the author of nine books of aviation history and played a key role in the communications organizations of firms including General Electric’s jet engine division in Ohio and Northrop (now Northrop Grumman) Corporation in Los Angeles.

After World War II service in the Navy, Schoneberger earned a degree from the University of South Carolina and in 1955 was first professionally exposed to aviation when he joined the aircraft engine division of G.E. at Evendale, Ohio. There, he spent 17 years in charge of national and international advertising and promotion, heading a staff of 70 professionals and helping that firm establish itself in the rapidly expanding field of jet engine development.

He later wrote a book about G.E. called “Seven Decades of Progress,” about its innovative engine work, and collaborated on another titled “Herman the German,” the life story of noted G.E. engineer Gerhard Neumann.

He realized a longtime desire to live in California in the early 1970s, when he moved to Los Angeles to become director of communications for aerospace manufacturer Northrop. There, he became friends with the company’s founder, John K. (Jack) Northrop, designer of many revolutionary airplanes including the first successful flying wing. Northrop was one of many corporate leaders profiled in a 1980 Schoneberger book, “California Wings,” a history of the state’s aviation pioneers.

He left corporate work in 1979 to found his own communications firm, which represented several companies in the aerospace field. In another of his books, published in 2002, Schoneberger compiled anecdotes and humorous recollections from his decades in the business. It bore the whimsical title, “Damn If They Ain’t Flew!,” quoting an exclamation by a man upon learning of the first flight by the Wright Brothers.

Schoneberger served four terms as president of the Aero Club of Southern California, and in the late 1970s helped arrange with the estate of Howard Hughes to have the club display the giant Hughes Flying Boat, nicknamed “the Spruce Goose,” to the public in a large dome on the Long Beach waterfront. In the early 1990s, Schoneberger headed a team from the club that arranged for the enormous wooden aircraft to be relocated to its present home in a new museum in Oregon. He also worked with the Hughes estate to create the Aero Club’s Howard Hughes Memorial Award, which for 30 years has honored lifetime achievements in aviation and aerospace.

Himself the recipient of many awards and honors, Schoneberger in 1998 was presented the aerospace industry’s prestigious Lyman Award, given to him for “outstanding achievement in aviation writing.” In 2008 the Flight Path Learning Center at Los Angeles International Airport, of which he was one of three founders, named its research library for Bill Schoneberger. It contains a large collection of his documents and books.

Schoneberger, who died Aug. 31, is survived by a son, E. William Schoneberger of Santa Barbara, and three grandsons, Andrew, Eric and Brian. The family said that at Schoneberger’s request, no funeral ceremony is planned.

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