Phil Cammack

1934 – 2022

Erstwhile pilot Phil Cammack ‘Flew West’ on 3/18/22.

Phil was born on a 160-acre farm in North Central Pennsylvania two days after Christmas in 1934. The doctor from a town about 15 miles away was notified and drove over. Unfortunately the road over the last four miles was snowed in; so the doctor walked the distance on foot, mostly uphill! (Talk about a house call!)

Phil, like most kids in the farming community, was driving a pickup at age eight. He remembered during WWII that toy cardboard airplanes existed with a 45-degree mirror inside; you could look thru a hole in the tail and see a map on the floor of Germany. You could then drop a marble from the plane and try to hit a spot on the map!

When Phil was, about age 10 his family sold the farm for $2000 and moved into town. (Back then a dollar was a dollar!) After high school he was admitted to MIT and graduated with an engineering degree in 1957. His first job was with a small consulting engineering firm in Massachusetts—near Cape Cod. With this firm, he did test work on everything from an offshore radar platform, to nuke subs, to helicopters.

Phil then joined Omega Helicopters, doing structural testing on the BS-12, the first twin-engine helicopter to be certificated in the US.

While there, he met his future wife Betsy, who was from California. She didn’t have to work very hard to convince him that he did not think like an Easterner, and belonged in the West.

Phil and Betsy married in 1961, and settled in Santa Monica near the beach, where they lived for many years. During this time he worked for the Hughes Tool Company–Aircraft division (not to be confused with the Hughes Aircraft Company). There, he worked on the development and testing of a variety of helicopter models: from the XV-9A Hot Cycle research helicopter, to the Army OH-6A /commercial MD500, to the APACHE AH-64.

His basic interest was structural testing. His philosophy was “Wring the ship out, but keep the test pilots alive!”

Phil was shy around cameras and generally able to get behind them, not in front of them. However, he got caught one time when his boss assigned the task of setting some world records with the Hughes-Army YOH-6A helicopter. Some 23 World Records were established in 1966. Today—more than a half century later—14 of these records still stand, including the longest, unrefueled flight ever made by helicopter: Coast to Coast from Hughes Airport, Culver City, California to Ormond Beach, Florida.

Phil was preceded in death by his beloved wife Betsy, who passed in 2018. He leaves behind his daughter Sue, his son Sam, daughter-in-law Estella, and two grandchildren, Claudina and Clayton.

According to his desires, no services or large gatherings. are planned He used to say, “Just go outside and look West, North, East and South, and marvel at the earth we got to live on!”

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