The Villages - July 2019 - 15

APOLLO PROGRAM INSIGNIA - NASA FILE PHOTO
NASA FILE PHOTO

"The X-15 was the first airplane I worked on, and it flew to
350,000 feet and Mach 8 - eight times the speed of sound,"
Sefic said. "It was designed on a (slide rule). It was amazing
what was done in those days. You can only do this to three
decimal places - that's the best you can do. Dryden actually
issued us slide rules that were 17 inches long so you can get a
bit more use out of them."
Sefic's work often consisted of testing sensitive equipment on the aircraft, and he usually worked with a team of
engineers to conduct experiments to achieve the desired results.
The tests took place either at the Dryden facility itself or out on a nearby dried lakebed that provided flat,
wide-open spaces for the planes to land or take off.
One such test involved driving an 18-wheeler truck
across one of the lakebeds to test the landing skids of
the Rockwell HiMAT, an experimental remotely-piloted airplane. As Dryden did not have a truck for Sefic
and his team to use, one of the members of his team
had to rent a truck from a local company and then
drive it down a nearby concrete runway and off into
the desert.
Sefic and his wife Pattie holding
a painting she commissioned
from an artist when he retired.

"We couldn't get it over 70 (mph) on the dry lakebed because of the drag," Sefic said. "So everybody was thinking,
'What can we do?' The guy who was driving said, 'Why don't
I get back about a mile or more and take that thing up to full
speed and hit the runway doing about 80 or 90?' And that's
what we did. By the time we got on the lakebed we were able
to get the data we needed."
NASA - especially during the time of the Apollo program - has long had a reputation of figuring out unorthodox methods to solve the challenges it was presented. Sefic
is a testament to those unorthodox methods - he and his
team had to come up with a unique method to solve a problem using the materials they had on hand.
Sefic is able to share a slew of stories similar to this one,
and though the tests he conducted were often a lot of work
out in the California desert, he insists he had the time of his
life doing it. He credits his wife Pattie for raising their children and putting up with living in the middle of nowhere
with him while he was out having fun.
"I had all these fun things to do, but that woman is the
real hero," Sefic said. "She raised four kids while I went off
and played with all these toys."
MAGAZINE

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The Villages - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Villages - July 2019

Contents
The Villages - July 2019 - Cover1
The Villages - July 2019 - Contents
The Villages - July 2019 - 1
The Villages - July 2019 - 2
The Villages - July 2019 - 3
The Villages - July 2019 - 4
The Villages - July 2019 - 5
The Villages - July 2019 - 6
The Villages - July 2019 - 7
The Villages - July 2019 - 8
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The Villages - July 2019 - Cover3
The Villages - July 2019 - Cover4
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