Arthur Davenport oral history interview
Engineer Arthur K. Davenport is interviewed about his career in the aviation and aerospace industries. He discusses his work at Hamilton Standard during the 1960s and 1970s, focusing in particular on the design and development of the Apollo spacesuit’s Life Support System backpack. He also discusses his subsequent engineering career with Boeing and his experiences as a Designated Engineering Representative (DER) for the Federal Aviation Administration. Davenport’s wife (Wendy) and son (Chris) also participate in the interview.
Table Of Contents
Introduction and personal background -- College and U.S. Air Force service -- Engineering career with Hamilton Standard -- Graduate studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a story about sublimators -- Career at Boeing, part one -- Submarine system design -- Career at Boeing, part two -- Designated Engineering Representative (DER) of the FAA -- Experiences with patents -- Thoughts on current space efforts -- Involvement with The Museum of Flight -- Career as an author -- Thoughts on engineering career -- Design work for the Space Shuttle -- Discussion about spacesuits and backpacks -- Testing the Boeing 747 -- Additional details about engineering career -- Early aviation memories and father’s engineering career -- Additional details about DER work -- Conversation with the Davenport Family and miscellaneous stories
Arthur K. Davenport is an aviation and aerospace engineer who worked for Hamilton Standard and the Boeing Company.
He was born in New York to Earl and Ruth Davenport. His father served in the Army Air Corps and afterwards worked for Sikorsky Helicopters and Republic Aviation.
Davenport attended the Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey) and participated in the school’s ROTC program. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a maintenance officer with the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing.
In the mid-1960s, Davenport was hired by Hamilton Standard as an engineer for the Apollo Program. His work included contributing to the design and development of the Apollo spacesuit’s Life Support System backpack. Later, he was involved in developing the Environmental Control System for the Space Shuttle Program. While at Hamilton, he also earned a master’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Connecticut).
In the mid-1980s, after 21 years at Hamilton, Davenport and his family relocated to Washington State, where he accepted a job at Boeing. His projects included design work for the 747 and for Combat Edge, a pressure vest designed to protect pilots from high G forces. In 1997, he became a Designated Engineering Representative (DER) for the Federal Aviation Administration. As a DER, he helped to test the Environmental Control System for the 747.
Davenport retired from Boeing in 2007 but returned to work as a job shopper. He retired again in 2013. Since retirement, he has self-published a number of mystery novels, including Fall to Earth (2014), Beyond the Breakers (2014), Hidden Failure (2014), and The Running Water River Bridge (2016).
Davenport married his wife, Wendy, in 1963.
Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.