August Bellanca, president of AviaBellanca Inc. died March 16 in Annapolis, Maryland due to complications arising from chemotherapy being used in treatment of colon cancer.
Bellanca was the son of aviation pioneer Giuseppe Mario Bellanca, one of the first to apply aerodynamic principles to the design of aircraft — a number of which went on to break records for efficiency and endurance.
August Bellanca began his aviation career as a teenager, working in his father’s aircraft factory in New Castle, Delaware. He ultimately received a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering degree from New York University in 1950.
As an aeronautical engineer, he began his career working with a number of large aviation companies, including Douglas and Grumman, before going on to form his own company. As an independent airplane designer and holder of two patents, one of his most significant achievements was in demonstrating that the NACA 6-Series airfoil could achieve laminar flow — a result previously thought to be unattainable. This achievement has subsequently been confirmed in tests performed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
He applied the NACA 6-Series laminar flow airfoil to an aircraft of his own design in the early 1970s: an all-composite aircraft called the “SkyRocket II” (so named in honor of one of his father’s own record-breaking aircraft of the 1920s). The single-engine, six-place, piston-powered SkyRocket II was designed and built to comply with FAA requirements for production aircraft. A novel construction method, devised by Bellance in 1966, was used to build the SkyRocket II. This system simplified the building process for his all-composite aircraft, and is still used throughout the aviation kit aircraft industry. In 1975, Bellanca’s SkyRocket II set five FAI world speed records that remain unsurpassed today.
At the time of his passing at the age of 83, Bellance was still performing pioneering work as an aerospace engineer and senior designer with the U.S. Navy’ Conceptual Design Center of the Naval Warfare Center at Pautuxent River.
Apart from aviation, Bellanca’s personal life was a quiet one. He was a private family man, supporting the interests and activities of his children, as well as flying, competitive sailing, and working on projects and inventions. August was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Sons of Italy, and the Quiet Birdmen (QB). He is survived by his wife, Elettra, two sons, a daughter, and two grandsons.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.