While GPS is an integral part of daily life today, there was a time when the idea of using space-based navigation seemed plagued by insurmountable obstacles. That’s when talented engineers like Sherman Gowdy Francisco went to work.
As chief engineer for the GPS Control Segment during his time with IBM Federal Systems, Loral, and Lockheed Martin, Francisco is personally credited with solving many of the clock, orbital, filter, and atmospheric problems before GPS satellites were first launched and in the early days of their deployment. Francisco also contributed to numerous articles and books on GPS.
In 1992 he accepted the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. The award was presented to The Global Positioning System Team, the United States Air Force, the United States Naval Research Laboratory, the Aerospace Corporation, Rockwell International Corporation, and IBM Federal Systems Company for “the most significant development for safe and efficient navigation and surveillance of air and spacecraft since the introduction of radio navigation 50 years ago.”
Francisco first joined AOPA in 1958 and was an accomplished pilot.
He died Jan. 7 at his home in Rockville, Md. He was 75.