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George Barrett Litchford ’41

A picture of George Litchford

George Barrett Litchford ’41, February 28, 2008, in Albany, New York. George received a BA from Reed in physics. Following graduation, he accepted a position with Sperry Gyroscope Research Labs in Garden City, New York. In 1942, he married Doris J. Cahill ’40; both worked for Sperry during World War II: George on radars and microwave blind-landing systems; Doris on gasoline rationing. In 1952, he joined Airborne Instruments Laboratory, and directed programs involving, among other things, airport design, navy-carrier and space-shuttle landing systems, and air-traffic control radars. He also served as consultant to the White House Curtis Committee, which lead to the establishment of the FAA. In 1965, he started an independent business, the Litchstreet Company, to manage the growing number of his patents in North America, Europe, and Japan. He also worked as a consultant for government agencies, universities, and private companies. George's patents led to the development of anti-collision systems for civil and military aircraft, and to ground-based passive radars, which monitor and record aircraft flight patterns and identities. Officially retiring in 2004, George remained active in his field. He also enjoyed time with family, reading, boating and water sports, and long walks with his dog. For his 50-year class reunion, George reported that his introduction to aviation systems at Reed, with physics professors A.A. Knowlton [1915–48] and Marcus O'Day [1926–45 ], led to his most interesting career. From the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, he received the Pioneer Award and medal in 1974, and the LammT Medal in 1981, for outstanding contributions in the development of electronic systems for air navigation and air-traffic control. From the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, of which he was a fellow, he received the Wright Brothers' Medal in 1978. Survivors include his daughter and son, and brother. Doris died in 2005.

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2008

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