Slick Airways

The Dee Howard Legacy

Career Timeline

CHRONOLOGY

Durrell U. (“Dee”) Howard

Date

Description

26 May 1920

Born in Los Angeles, California. Shortly after Dee was born his family moved to San Antonio.

1935

Dee began his career at age 15 working in automobile related shops. In a few years he was able to find a job in his chosen field, working on aircraft, where he became an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration, then referred to as the CAB) licensed aircraft mechanic.

3 December 1938

Dee and Georganna married, had two children, Dee Ann (born 15 Feb 1942) and Lonnie Dean Howard (born 1 August 1945)

1939

Employed by Braniff Airlines at Stinson Field on the south side of San Antonio, then worked for one year at Western Airlines in Los Angeles, where in one year he rose from apprentice, to junior mechanic to full A&E Mechanic. After one year with Western Airlines Dee returned to work for Braniff.

1946

At age 26 Dee joined newly formed Slick Airways at Stinson Field, one of the first post WWII all cargo airlines, and moved with Slick Airways to San Antonio Municipal Airport (later name changed to San Antonio International Airport) on the north side of San Antonio when it was opened for business.

1947

Slick Airways decided to move its maintenance base to California, Dee decided to stay in San Antonio and at age 27 Dee founded his first company, Howard Aero, Inc. starting in a small one-room building on the ramp at San Antonio Municipal Airport. The company grew amazingly fast and became one of the most successful aircraft maintenance and modification companies of the post WWII era. Dee’s first major program was the extensively modified and remanufactured Lockheed Ventura medium bomber into a high performance long range business aircraft that became the Howard Super Ventura. The highly successful Howard Super Ventura was followed by the Howard 250, the Howard 350, and the Howard 500 models. The Howard 500 was FAA certified as an all new pressurized aircraft.

1960

Dee was 40 years old, Howard Aero had over 1000 employees and was the largest manufacturer in San Antonio. Dee had become friends with Bill Lear and in the early 1960s built the first full scale mock up of the Lear Jet in his hangar in San Antonio. Later, investors acquired a controlling interest in Howard Aero and in the early 1960s Dee left Howard Aero to form a new company.

1964

Established The Dee Howard Co. (DHC) with its principal office at San Antonio International Airport. Dee was President of DHC from 1964 to 1990 and sole owner of DHC from its formation until 1988. DHC soon became the industry leader in engineering and production of improvements for the emerging business and commercial jet aircraft market. The name Dee Howard became legendary for aircraft performance improvements and quality products. Some of DHC’s major projects included:

  1. Developed the first jet engine thrust reverser for the Lear Jet. The DHC thrust reverser for the GE CJ-610 jet engine was highly successful and advanced the state of the art in thrust reverser function and reliability;
  2. DHC entered into a joint venture with a French engineer, Etienne Fage, to develop state of the art fan-jet thrust reversers utilizing cold flow technology. These thrust reversers are still used today on jet aircraft manufactured in the US, England, and France;
  3. In a joint venture with a former Boeing engineer, Jim Raisbeck, DHC developed new technology that dramatically improved the Lear Jet flight characteristics and short runway performance, known as the Howard/Raisbeck Mark II-which was flown as part of the certification program on one occasion by former Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong;
  4. The highly successful Howard XR Lear Jet modification improved the aircraft efficiency by an amazing 23 percent and was adopted by the Lear Jet factory for the new G-model Lear Jets;
  5. Head of State interior completion projects on wide body aircraft, the hallmark accomplishment of this program was a Boeing 747-300 aircraft for His Majesty King Fahad of Saudi Arabia.According to Boeing it is to this day the largest and most extensively engineered and modified head of state aircraft ever accomplished;
  6. The re-engine of BAC1-11 and Boeing 727 aircraft with Rolls Royce Tay engines.

April 1983

Incorporated River City Products, Inc.(RCP)

1988

Dee sold a 40% interest in DHC to Aeritalia (now known as Alenia), an Italian aerospace group (at that time DHC had over 1,500 employees) including 350+ in engineering, and 750,000 sq. ft. of buildings. Dee remained as President of DHC.

1990

Alenia acquired a controlling interest in DHC, Dee left day to day operations of DHC but remained on the board until the Italians gained 100% control of the company in about 1991 or 1992. When Dee left DHC he turned his attention to RCP which was licensed to manufacture and sell the Dee Howard patented Howard Precision Steer Wheel Control System (HPCSS) that advanced the state of the art in heavy vehicle directional stability to a level of perfection that was completely new to the heavy vehicle industry, resulting in a vast improvement in drivability and considerable reduction in driving fatigue and related highway safety issues. There are over 3,000 HPCSS units installed and still operating today on motor homes, buses, and trucks.

2007

Dee was in poor health and RCP was shut down but the HPCSS installed units are still in service.

 

Dee’s other passion was the restoration from scratch of antique cars. During his lifetime he restored more then 40 cars and received numerous prestigious awards for the quality of the restorations.

12 February 2009

Date of Death

3 June 2013

Dedication of Dee Howard Way at San Antonio International Airport

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