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Richard (Dick) Abrams; Lockheed Executive

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard (Dick) Abrams, a 14-year Lockheed employee who served as flight test director for the company’s top secret “Skunk Works” facility in Palmdale, has died. He was 56.

Abrams, a resident of Los Angeles’ Cheviot Hills area, died Thursday at a Washington, D.C., hospital of what Lockheed described only as a brief illness.

In 1980, Abrams joined the then Burbank-based Skunk Works--Lockheed’s Advanced Development Co.--as a senior engineer. From 1989 to 1991, he served as flight test program manager for Lockheed’s YF-22 fighter plane, supervising test flights of the aircraft in the Antelope Valley at Edwards Air Force Base and the company’s Palmdale facility.

Abrams was appointed flight test director for the Skunk Works in March, 1991.

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In April of this year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awarded him its Chanute Flight Test Award in recognition of his work in flight testing the F-117 Stealth Fighter and the YF-22A Advanced Tactical Fighter.

Prior to his tenure at Lockheed, Abrams worked at the Federal Aviation Administration and at Rockwell International’s B-1 division. He also spent a decade with the U.S. Air Force.

Among his professional affiliations, Abrams was a member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers, the Flight Test Historical Foundation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In addition, he authored the book “Corsair at War.”

In 1960, Abrams received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He later received a master’s degree in systems management from USC.

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Abrams is survived by his wife, Rochelle (Shelly) Abrams; his mother, Gertrude Abrams; and a sister, Barbara Davis.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hillside Memorial Park, 6001 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles.


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