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Oran Wesley Nicks - In Memoriam

Oran Wesley Nicks
February 2, 1925 - September 23, 1998

Oran Nicks was born in El Dorado, Texas, and lived in College Station, Texas, at the time of his death.

From 1970-1980, he was deputy director of the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, which was responsible for the Viking Mars program and other aerospace activities.

From 1980-1996, he was a professor and research engineer at Texas A&M University, where he directed wind tunnel and space research activities. As director of the Space Research Center, he oversaw the university's designation in 1989 as one of twenty-one Space Grant Universities, and he headed the Texas Space Grant Consortium. He retired from the university in 1996 to build and test the World Class glider in which he died.

He was a member of the Soaring Society of America, Sailplane Homebuilders Association, World Class Soaring Association, Planetary Society, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He received the SSA Exceptional Service Award in 1988, and the Paul E. Tuntland Memorial Award in 1976.

He represented the United States on the OSTIV Sailplane Development Panel, an international group that deals with technical issues related to sailplane design and development. He played key roles in establishing the World Class in soaring and in selecting the Polish-designed PW-5 as the World Class glider. He was a director of WCSA and vice president of the International Jury for the First World Air Games in Turkey in 1997.

He held a license to build World Class sailplanes and, at the time of his death, had recently completed the construction of a PW-5 in his workshop at Easterwood Airport. He was pursuing kit-building of the PW-5 in the United States.

Friends called him a consummate professional and an outstanding pilot. He held commercial and flight instructor ratings.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, of College Station; a son and daughter-in-law, Colby Oran and Robin Nicks, three daughters and two sons-in-law, Toni Lee Staplin, Janet and Coy Noles, and Connie Jo and Ted Blaylock, a sister and brother-in-law, a brother and sister-in-law, and 11 grandchildren.

There has also been a memorial page created by the World Class Soaring Association in Oran's memory. You can access the site at www.wcsa.org and click on "Enter" and follow the link on the left of the page.

Posted: 11/1/1998


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