The Three Best Engineers

The Hexagon program had a huge number of talented people working on it. Three of them were, in my opinion, the best engineers. They were:

1. Joe Vollaro, a mechanical engineer who understood the the basics of design engineering, kinematics and the intricacies of mounting optical elements, and paying attention to details better than anyone

2. Tony Bassaro, also a mechanical engineer who was a great designer of all kinds of moving and fixed mechanisms and the skills and tools to fabricate them. 

3. Dick Carricato, an electrical engineer who was an expert in servomechanisms (control systems). He knew the whole complicated Hexagon system and how it worked better than anyone. He was the first to be called in the middle of the night to help diagnose problems in the lab or in orbit. Dick worked closely with two other fine electrical engineers, Marty Yellin and Dick Labinger. They designed the closed loop servo system that perfectly synchronized the speed and position of the fast moving film with the moving optical image at the focal plane. I salute all of them. 

 Left to right: Dick Carricato, Joe Vollaro, Tony Bassaro

Left to right: Dick Carricato, Joe Vollaro, Tony Bassaro

West Coast Field Office

Perkin-Elmer had a group of approximately 100 employees who supported the Hexagon program. They were located at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California. They were known as the WCFO (West Coast Field Office) team.


Here's a photo (courtesy of Tom O’Neill) of a lot of the WCFO crowd and a couple of customers folks. The photograph was taken in Murphy Park Sunnyvale California (1-24-2012) before the Gambit & Hexagon Celebration at Lockheed Martin. George Manolis took the photo and he is shown in a separate photo. The park was the site of many picnics-in-the-park during the HEXAGON haydays.

WCFO at theParkbeforetheGambit&HexigonCelebration1-24-2012.jpg

From Left to Right:

Al Thompson--Bill Fullerton--Pete Krump--Jim Florang-- Bob Zarba--Dominic Pascale--Dave Raspet--HB Tanner--Ed Woyshner and Tom O'Neill (kneeling). 

George Manolis.jpg

George Manolis

Collage Pictures of WCFO Personnel.jpg

Also shown is a collage of the whole WCFO team but unfortunately too small to read the names. 


Declassification Ceremony September 17, 2011

A group of Perkin-Elmer engineers who worked on the Hexagon  program standing in front of the Hexagon Development Model when the program was declassified by the NRO in Washington. It was a thrill for all of us to finally be able to tell our families and friends about our work and its importance to the United States. It was also thrilling to see the vehicle again after dozens of years since the program ended. 

Photo courtesy of Jon Aspinwall. 

Hx team members by vehicle .jpg

Earth's Rotation

Paul Convertino who was the manager of the Optical Technology Division’s Systems Department in Danbury told me this story some years ago.

Back in the late 1960’s the Perkin-Elmer marketing people had an advertisement that was on television and it showed a space view of the earth and talked about all the good science that Perkin-Elmer was doing, but the earth was rotating in the wrong direction. Paul said “I remember a senior CIA manager that we were meeting with on an old program coming in to me and said “great aerospace guys you are, you don’t even know which way the earth is turning.”  One of our guys said, “You customer guys are so powerful why don’t you get to rotate the earth in the other direction.”