2015 When he was young, David Griffin built dozens of model airplanes. When he was in grammar school, he learned to fly gliders from the Royal Air Force. And at the age of 15, he soloed.
He worked in the aviation industry on a five-year professional study program while simultaneously attending college. He then attended Sheffield University, and he registered as a Professional Engineer at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, England.
He participated in a five-year program at Fairey Aviation, UK, that required potential engineers to work through every aspect of aircraft manufacture from learning how to use machine tools to aircraft assembly, and finally, in the design office. The company built innovative airplanes including the “droop-snoop” FD 2 that established a world speed record and subsequently became the flying lab for the Concorde.
After immigrating to California in 1956, he was not allowed to work in the aircraft industry because his security clearance did not transfer. He never returned to the aircraft industry. In 1980, he moved to Charlotte to start his own textile machinery company, but in 2007, he retired and rekindled his interest in aviation.
Around 2005, he bought a Cessna 150 and obtained his private pilots license. He then spent six years and about 3,000 hours building a Titan T-51 scale all metal Mustang airplane.
Griffin began a bi-weekly aviation course for 7th and 8th grade at Edisto Island School. He installed a flight simulator program onto the school computers and the students learned the basics of controlled flight, weather systems, navigation, communication, and the principles of flight. He also provided kits to build small flying models. The program continued for five years until the school terminated the 7th and 8th grades. He flew every student in the C 150.
At Fort Mill High School, he contributed to Career Day and promoted aviation as a career for more than five years. The school later decided to add an aviation course as a part of their curriculum.
Griffin taught and supervised engineering students and auto tech students from Fort Mill High School and Nation Ford High School during a yearlong project to build a full sized Sopwith Camel bi-plane. Students used the school’s engineering facilities for design work and construction, and they incorporated both computer sided manufacturing techniques as well as hands-on construction of the airframe and engine.
The aircraft is now on display at the Carolina Aviation Museum near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The project was designed to commemorate the life and contribution to aviation of Col Elliott Springs. Griffin and Elliot Close (Col. Elliott Springs grandson) are friends and financed the project together.