Donald Lee Bloom passed away in Grapevine, Texas, Tuesday July 18, 2017.
Don is predeceased by his mother, Georgia Randolph Bloom (1984); father, Fred Miles Bloom (1988); and by his loving wife Anne Marie Bloom of 52 years. He was a loving son , husband and father.
Don is survived by his children, Susan Bloom (and partner, Tammy Upson), Stacy Bloom, Robert Bloom, Todd Bloom; Herb Waldrop (Don’s best friend, long time golf partner, coworker, and expert engineer in flying), Cookie Kirschner (Don’s best friend and sister since the age of 12 that shared his love of playing the piano, writing music, singing and flying), and Bubba Applewhite (friend and golf partner).
Don was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in April 1932 and was fascinated with flying from a very young age. His dream of becoming a pilot was put on the back burner when football became his passion during high school and college. It was during his Senior year in College (University of Houston, football scholarship, graduated 1955) that becoming a pilot became crystal clear. Following graduation he joined the US Navy flight-training program. After his preflight training, Don became a navy cadet and was commissioned in the US Marine Corps. His first flight as a pilot was in Pensacola, Florida in October 1955. After spending 4 years flying for the US Marine Corps he became an experimental Test Pilot for Kaman Aircraft 1960-1961. Don joined Bell Helicopter as Experimental Test Pilot and Development Pilot in 1961. Don retired from Bell Helicopter as a Senior Experimental Test Pilot 1990, and continued his love of flying as an expert witness in aviation accident trials. His credentials during his career at Bell include first flights and structural demonstrations in the model 577 (super UH-1D), OH-58A, AH-1J, 206L series, 222 and UH-1C. As a Bell Helicopter Engineering Development test pilot , he flew structural demonstrations that were required for Military Approval. He was project development pilot on the first prototype fighter helicopter, the Bell AH-1G Cobra. Don was project pilot on 187 projects between 1961 and 1990, logged 150 flight test projects in chronological sequence, log books reflecting the flying of 102 different helicopters and 15 fixed-wing aircraft. Total flight hours logged are 14,000 plus, of which 6,540 are experimental and development time. He developed high velocity curves for the OH-58A, 206L, 206L-1, 206L-3, 206B, 206B-1, 206B-3, 204B-4 and the UH-1C. In 1984 the Society of Experimental Test Pilots presented the coveted Iven C. Kinchloe Award to Don for his successful investigation into the spin phenomena of the OH-58A (later identified as loss of tail rotor effectiveness-LTE). He was the first helicopter pilot to receive this award since its inception in 1958. Recipients of this award are displayed at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum including John H. Glenn Jr., Neil Armstrong and Charles E. Yeager. Don and Tom Wood, Bell Senior Technical Fellow, were also recognized in 1984 for developing a new understanding of LTE based on flight investigation for which they received the Howard Hughes Award. This award is given in recognition of an outstanding improvement in the fundamental helicopter technology brought to fruition during the preceding calendar year. The results of this flight data and interpretation of this data is still taught at Bell’s Flight Training Academy today. The FAA recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years by awarding the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award. Don received this award in 2011. For 21 years at Bell and 15 additional years since retirement, Don had served as SW Region /FAA Designated Engineering Representative Flight Test Pilot (DER). From his first flight in 1955 through his retirement from Bell in 1990 and after his retirement, self employed, DB Aero (DER & DER consultant activities, Expert witness trial & depositions, accident investigations & analysis, helicopter operations advisor), Don continued to set an example for what the meaning “Master Pilot” is. According to his fellow pilots, “Don does not fly helicopters, he wears them”.
Services for Don will be held at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery on July 31, 2017 at 12:30 pm. Please arrive at 12:15 (15 minutes prior).