Designers/Builders

AKERMAN, JOHN D. (JANIS)

  • Born: April 24, 1897 in Rundale
  • Moved to Jelgava
  • 1916 - attended the Aeronautical School of the Imperial Technical Institue in Moscow, studying under Professor N.E. Joukowsky.
  • Enlisted in the Engineering Corps of the Russian Army's air service branch.
  • 1917 - sent to France for pilot training, where he attended Ecole d'Aviation at Avord, the Ecole d'Aviation Militaire at Pau, and the Ecole de Combat at Cautaux.
  • Served as a scout pilot with the Russian Aviation Mission in France and Italy.
  • January 1918 - co-pilot and technical coordinator for a flight from Italy to Russia in a Caproni Ca-2.
  • Emigrated to the United States when the Russian Civil war erupted.
  • Enrolled in the University of Michigan.
  • 1925 - Graduated with a BSc in aeronautical engineering.
  • Employed by the Stout-Ford All-Metal Aircraft Company of Dearborn, Michigan, where he participated in the structural analysis of the Ford Trimotor.
  • Obtained his Masters degree from the University of Michigan.
  • Wind tunnel designer for the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.
  • 1928 - chief engineer at the Hamilton Metalplane Company (builders of the Hamilton Metalplane H-47).
  • 1929 - Chief Engineer at the Mohawk Aircraft Company.
  • Project manager in the design and construction of the Mohawk Pinto, a two-seat personal aircraft produced by the Mohawk Aircraft Company of Minneapolis.
  • Autumn 1929 - University of Minnesota offers him an associate professorship and tasks him with organizing a Faculty of Aeronatical Engineering.
  • Offered the chair of the Faculty of Aeronautics at Latvian University (declined)
  • 1931-1959 - Dean of the Faculty of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.
  • 1931 - Consultant to the Madras Rotor Power Company on the Flettner rotor project.
  • 1934-1937 - Commissioner of Aeronautics for the State of Minnesota
  • 1935 - Akerman visits Moscow, where the Russians offer him a position with a new aeronautical research facility (declined).
  • 1935 - Visited the LKOD plant and provided advice to local designer Jekabs Kruze, who had worked with Akerman in the past, in Minnesota.
  • Summer 1935 - Visited the VEF facility and made contact with Karlis Irbitis. They had the first discussions of what was eventually to become the JDA-10M project.
  • Akerman sends a set of drawings for a fighter aircraft to VEF. He had originally designed it for Spain, but the Civil War ended their plans for production. Instead, he offered it to VEF for what Irbitis called "a reasonable price". However, the aircraft was designed for a powerful radial engine, while VEF's design philosophy was to use streamlined in-line engines in their designs. The offer was declined.
  • 1937 - Consultant to the Porterfield Aircraft Company in their high-altitude fighter project.
  • 1937 - 1939 - designed the twin-engined JDA-10M, which was built by VEF under his direction. Maiden flight - September 4, 1939 at Spilve.
  • 1938 - VEF builds a small wind tunnel, using drawing provided by professor Akerman.
  • August 1939 - Akerman again visits Latvia, primarily to witness the unveiling of the JDA-10M.
  • August 1939 - witnessed a demonstration of the Shnore parachute design. Akerman was impressed and, after the war, attempted to contact the designer but without success.
  • September 7, 1939 - the Latvian Ministry of Defense, aware of their increasingly difficult military situation and the lack of modern aircraft for national defense, met with VEF to determine their ability to produce military aircraft. Professor Akerman attended this meeting to provide technical consultation.
  • November 1939 - returning home to the USA, Akerman stops off in Sweden to visit Swedish factories that produce sheet steel and steel tubing.
  • 1942 - Established the Strato Equipment Comany, his own laboratory in which he designed and developed instruments and equipment for high altitude flight, as well as the iron lung for use in patients with respiratory paralysis.
  • 1942-1943 - Adviser to the US Defence Research Council
  • September 1945 - Sent to Germany as an official investigator for the United States National Defense Research Council.
  • 1945 - Named an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Science
  • 1946-1962 - Director of the Rosemount Aeronautical Laboratory.
  • Professor at the University of Minnesota, Chair of the Aviation Studies faculty.
  • During his lifetime he was the author of 12 patents.
  • 1948 - Named a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
  • 1962 - Retired.
  • 1971 - Spent the year exploring the island of Tobago, researching the colony of Latvians who settled there centuries ago.
  • Died: January 8, 1972 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sources

- Daugavas Vanagu Menesraksts 1972, No.3, pg.72
- Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture Bruvelis, Edvins
- Of Struggle and Flight Irbitis, Karlis

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