- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

George Hughey Jr., 84, aerospace executive

George Haring Hughey Jr., a retired Navy night fighter pilot and aerospace executive, died Sept. 8 at Sibley Hospital of complications following a fall at his home in Potomac. He was 84.

Born in Honolulu, Mr. Hughey graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1944 and served in the Pacific during World War II aboard the battleship Massachusetts.

He participated in seven major battles, including Formosa, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the Philippines, surviving a severe typhoon and Japanese kamikaze attacks.

In 1946, Mr. Hughey transferred to the destroyer Stickell, which was sent to the China Station during the communist-nationalist civil war.

When the Communists cut the rail lines, senior officers were trapped in Peking. Mr. Hughey, then a lieutenant (junior grade), was left to navigate the Wangpoo River and dodge junks whose owners were trying to ram U.S. ships to collect damage reparations.

Mr. Hughey received his wings in 1949 and became a Navy “top gun” at the Fleet Air Gunnery Unit at China Lake, Calif.

In 1954, he received a master’s degree from Princeton University, where his thesis developed a new concept that saved the Navy $200,000 for every aircraft tested.

Mr. Hughey then commanded an experimental team of fighter pilots trained to fly from carriers at night and in extreme weather. He tested aircraft at the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center in St. Mary’s County, Md.

At the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics, he was project officer for weapons systems and aircraft including the X-15 space aircraft.

After 16 years of active naval service, Mr. Hughey joined General Electric Co.’s new space business, working on the Apollo moon ship study and managing classified satellite programs.

He helped pick the location where astronauts landed on the moon and was a member of the board that met in Houston to do a safety review before each moon shot. He also took part in the design and testing of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a predecessor of the current space station.

When the orbiting laboratory program was canceled, Mr. Hughey tested materials such as the protective insulation for the then-proposed Alaska pipeline. His pipeline test rig was at Inuvik in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and while he was building it, he and his wife piloted a single-engine bush plane 6,000 miles around the high Arctic.

By the time GE won a $200 million contract to insulate the Alaska pipeline, Mr. Hughey was assistant to the president at Fairchild Industries in Maryland, where he helped found Fairchild’s American Satellite unit.

Among his favorite achievements were the first printing of the Wall Street Journal via satellite and directing the construction of Fairchild’s Earth station on Midway Island in the Pacific.

In 1992, after multiple corporate buyouts, Mr. Hughey, who had continued to manage satellite and Earth station programs, retired from GTE.

He spent his summers on Monhegan Island, Maine, where he designed and built a solar electric system for his cottage and helped other island residents acquire solar energy. He was a trustee of the Monhegan Museum and of the island land trust Monhegan Associates, of which he was also treasurer.

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Ann Conolly Hughey; a daughter, Ann Hughey Feibusch; and two grandchildren.



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