Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.

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Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.
Francis T. Evans USMC.jpg
Born (1886-06-03)June 3, 1886
Delaware, Ohio
Died March 14, 1974(1974-03-14) (aged 87)
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service ?–1937, 1937-1944
Rank Colonel
Commands held Seaplane Squadron, Azores, 1918
Battles/wars

World War I

World War II
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Francis Thomas Evans, Sr. (3 June 1886 – 14 March 1974) was a pioneer aviator. He was one of the earliest United States Marine Corps aviators, the first person to perform a loop in seaplane, and a pioneer of stall and spin recovery techniques.

Biography[edit]

Evans was born in Delaware, Ohio, on 3 June 1886. He became one of the earliest United States Marine Corps aviators, being designated Marine Aviator Number 4.[1][2]

By early 1917, Evans was the most experienced Curtiss N-9 floatplane pilot in the world. Although the consensus among aviators and even the N-9's manufacturer was that the N-9 could not be looped, Evans believed it was possible. On February 13, 1917, he flew an N-9 over the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida, and began attempts to loop it. He succeeded on his fourth try, becoming the first person ever to loop a seaplane. Lacking witnesses, he flew over Naval Air Station Pensacola and repeated the feat. In 1936, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for this achievement.[3]

More important, however, were the stall and spin recovery techniques he discovered that day. During his first three loop attempts, the N-9 stalled before he reached the apex of the loop and fell into a spin. He found that by releasing back-pressure on the stick and aggressively applying opposite rudder to the direction of the spin he could change the spin into a normal dive and recover, something previously thought impossible in an N-9. His stall and spin recovery techniques remain in use to this day by aviators around the world.[4]

During World War I, Evans was stationed in the Azores in 1918 in command of a seaplane squadron.[5][6]

Evans took actions after the 29 June 1925 earthquake in Santa Barbara, California, to help save the city from fire, for which he received a letter of commendation from the United States Secretary of the Navy and a resolution from the City of Santa Barbara.[7][8]

The Marine Corps lacked any kind of ambulance aircraft in the 1920s and early 1930s, so Evans came up with a way of housing a stretcher and a medical attendant aboard a modified Douglas P2D-1 patrol floatplane, and the Marine Corps used the modified aircraft in support of its occupation duties in Haiti and Santo Domingo.[9][10]

Evans was grounded after two serious crashes in 1935 and was retired for physical disability in July 1937. However, he was recalled to duty later in 1937 and continued to serve in the Marine Corps until December 1944.[11][12]

Family[edit]

Evans was married to Elizabeth K. Evans. Their oldest son, Captain Francis T. Evans, Jr., USAF, served in Europe during in World War II as a United States Army Air Forces fighter pilot and later served in the United States Air Force. He died on 16 June 1953 while attempting to land his disabled F-86 Sabre fighter at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, when he put the F-86 into a nosedive to avoid crashing into a playground full of children at Forestville Elementary School in Forestville, Maryland.[13] Francis T. Evans Elementary School in Clinton, Maryland, is named in honor of him.[14]

A younger son, Captain Douglas K. Evans, served in the U.S. Army Air Forces and then in the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War and Vietnam War as a jet fighter pilot. Douglas Evans took Francis T. Evans, Sr., on his first jet airplane flight on 4 January 1947, in a T-33 Shooting Star.[15]

Death[edit]

Francis T. Evans, Sr., died on 14 March 1974 after six years of declining health. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.[16][17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  2. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. Col. Francis Thomas Evans, USMC (Retired) died March 14, 1974 after about six years of failing health during which time he was cared for by his wife Elizabeth K. Evans. He was Marine Aviator number 4. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross after making a loop-the-loop in a seaplane February 13, 1917. In 1918 he was stationed in the Azores, commanding the Seaplane Squadron there. In 1925 he received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of Navy and a Resolution from the City of Santa Barbara, California for saving the city from fire during the earthquake of that year. He developed a method of housing a stretcher and an attendant in a turtle-back on a P2-DH. These were used by the Marine Corps in Haiti and Santo Domingo until a satisfactory ambulance plane was built. After two serious crashes in 1935 he was grounded and in July 1937 he was retired for physical disability. later, in 1937 he was recalled and served until December 1944. On January 4, 1947, while visiting his son, Captain Douglas K. Evans, USAF, he had his first flight in a jet airplane, a T-33. They did a couple of rolls, an Immalman and a dive with a 5 G pull-out. 
  3. ^ Knapp, Walter, "The Marines Take Wing," Aviation History, May 2012, p. 51.
  4. ^ Knapp, Walter, "The Marines Take Wing," Aviation History, May 2012, p. 51.
  5. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  7. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  8. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  9. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  10. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  11. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  13. ^ The Francis T Evans Story
  14. ^ Francis T. Evans Elementary School
  15. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  16. ^ "Francis Thomas Evans, Sr.". Early Aviators. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  17. ^ "Col. Francis Thomas Evans". Early Birds of Aviation. 1975. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 

External links[edit]