Jean A. Roche
Jean Roche, 1958
     Jean A. Roche is one of the many Early Birds that continues in active service today. He is presently engaged in aeronautical and space flight research, acting as Liason Air Force Representative in the laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at Langley Air Force Base. He also teaches and lectures on navigational subjects, including satellite orbiting theory.
     Mr. Roche's first solo flight was in 1911 when he made several successful glider flights. From 1916 to 1930 he made numerous passenger flights in military aircraft as well as flights in gliders of his own design and in his own light plane. His aviation career embraces the design of many military airplanes, and he has some twenty inventions covered by his patents. He likewise designed the first successful light airplane, the Aeronca, which greatly reduced the cost of flying and inspired private plane operation. He holds a Civilian Meritorius Award Medal.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, April, 1958, Number 59

     The website of the Ohio History of Flight Museum has a page which features the Waco Model 10 - NC4899, which is on display in the museum. It mentions that Charlie Myers was the test pilot for the plane and tells how he piloted one to first prize in the Class B division of the 1927 Air Derby from New York to Spokane, Washington. The airplane covered a distance of 2352 miles in 30 hours and 23 minutes. It had a 28-minute lead over an Eaglerock by the end of the race. Only nine of the 25 planes that started the race finished it.
     Unfortunately, this website has disappeared from the internet, (10-14-03), and we can't visit it to enjoy the many other features which used to be available. It included mention of three other Early Birds, Ernest Hall, Jean Roche and Paul Wilber. Let's hope it reappears some day.

     You will find a picture of Charlie, standing in front of a 1912 Curtiss with some of his Early Bird buddies including John Nichols, Bill Diehl, Tex Marshall, Charles Meyers, Walter Bullock, Paul Garber, Harry Copland, Waldo Waterman, Walter Addems, Stanley Vaughn, Ivan Wheaton, Glenn Messer, George Page, Charles West, Forrest Wysong, David Young. George Clark, Dale Crites (pilot of plane), Jean Roche and Melvin Hodgdon.

     If you search for "Jean A. Roche +aviation", using the Google search engine, (8-31-03), you will find about 50 links. Among the most helpful are the following.
     This page on the U. S. Centennial of Flight Commission website offers a very complete story of this plane which was designed by Jean in 1929. It includes a nice picture of the plane which is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

     This page on the Aircrash Organization website offers a comprehensive biography of Jean Roche. You can access it by clicking on the title above.
     If you can possibly spare the time, I highly recommend that you go to the homepage of this website and become familiar with the principles which are presented to further the whole purpose of the site, namely to offer a solution to the problem of disastrous airchrashes.

     This page on the Aircrash Organization website offers a copy of the letter which Jean sent to Mr. Chalmers Goodlin, Chairman and C.E.O.of the Burnelli Company in 1965. Mr. Chalmers had responded to a series of emails which had been sent to a discussion group disparaging the Burnelli concept. It offers a little glimpse into the professional activities and attitudes of Jean at that time. You can access it by clicking on:
     If you have the time and want to know more about this interchange, you should go to the homepage and then click on the "Related News" button at the bottom of the page. You will find the series among the "Headlines."

Jean Roche, Inventor
Of Aeronca Plane, Dies
     Jean Alfred Roche, 86, 50 Old Meredith Road, Hampton, an internationally known aircraft design engineer and inventor, died Thursday at home.
     The Aeronca plane, described as basically a powered glider with gentle landing speed, could be operated by novices after only five hours of training and was designed by Roche and built in a garage at Roche's New York home in 1929 with the assistance of a friend.
     Roche's plane is now on display in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
     The rights for manufacturing were later sold to Aeronautical Corp. of America, which made a few changes in the original design and named Roche president. He held this position briefly before resigning to spend full time with the federal government. He came to Langley Research Center with the old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1939 to work as a development engineer and was nationally and internationally recognized for his work. He retired in 1960 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
     Born in France, he majored in mechanical engineering at Columbia University.
     He was a member of the Early Birds, the Franco-Amerecan Friendship Society, had been elected to the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame and was a member of Sigma Psi Fraternity.
     Survivors include three sons, Felix Roche of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jean R. Roche of Arlington and Herbert G. Roche of Dayton, Ohio, and 13 grandchildren.
     A graveside service will be conducted 11 a.m. Monday in Parklawn memorial Park by the Rev. Rodney L. Caulkins of St. John's Episcopal Church.
The family is at the residence.
     R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home is in charge.
from a newsclipping, 2-19-1981
Contributed by G. Francisco, 12-12-10

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