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Passion for aviation leads to aircraft software

By: neely
This is the first entry in the AMM blog on It’s a preface to an upcoming series. For those who don’t know already, AMM stands for “Aircraft Mission Modeler” and is our approach to bringing sophisticated aviation capabilities to our customers. Future blogs will talk in detail about AMM features and use cases, but this first blog is a little history about the inventor of AMM—who happens to be me.  UAV mission planning and operations My passion is bullets, bombs, missiles and anything else under the heading of military aviation. I used to be a Navy F-14 Radar Intercept Officer (RIO). My call sign was “Needles.” People sometimes refer to me as “Goose” in reference to the RIO who dies in Top Gun. We flew the black tails with the skull and crossbones logo. I’ve been supersonic upside down at 100 feet over the hills of Nevada, and I’ve been zero airspeed 90 deg nose up in full blower at 50,000 feet. I’ve got many sea stories that get better with every telling. But continuing on …  I eventually got into engineering and landed at AGI. One day in the summer of 2003, Frank Linsalata, who’s now our COO, took me aside and said, “Tom, I want you to build a kick-ass airplane model, something that actually flies like an airplane.” Frank had written a short requirements document with one primary goal: 
Embed a realistic-flight path generator within STK that provides ascent and descent profiles along with a flight defined by user-defined waypoints. Objectives (that have been requested for several years) such as realistic computed bank angles, loitering, figure eights, ovals and flight characteristics of various aircraft should all be embedded within the flight algorithm. 
This was the moment I had been waiting for, the moment at which everything I had done up to that point coalesced into something I could build and sell that was MINE. I had definite ideas about how to build this thing. Luckily, AGI had prepared me to do just that.  At the time, though, an internal argument was brewing over whether or not AGI should expand its offerings from its historical emphasis on space applications. I clearly remember being surrounded at dinner one night by several account executives saying, “STK will never be accepted for air mission planning.” At that point, aviation users were a tiny fraction of our total. But many of us were saying that our inherent capabilities were going untapped, and that all we needed was a high-quality aircraft model to begin breaking down those doors. Today, UAV and aircraft users comprise more than 25% of our sales and are growing strongly. The STK/AMM development team has worked diligently with the support of senior management to make this happen. Our patient and helpful tech support engineers have played a major role in gaining this acceptance and gathering the customer feedback that drives much of our future effort. The sales and business development teams are on the tip of the spear and, of course, are critical to this success. Most importantly are the customers who drive us forward. The following series is dedicated to everyone involved in this. Stay tuned for the first entry ...
Posted: 9/23/2010 9:12:17 PM