Frank P. Foster

Frank P. Foster was born in Gilman, MT April 9, 1922 to George and Martha Foster.  The only boy of 7 kids, Foster helped farm on the family homestead. His first experience with flying was a short trip in a Ford Tri-Motor that inspired him to take flight lessons and obtain his private pilot’s license. He graduated from Augusta High School in 1940 and enlisted in the USN November 4, 1941. After attending boot camp at the Naval Training Station San Diego, he attended Aviation Machinist’s Mate School and was assigned his first duty station at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, VA. On February 10th, 1944, he was selected for Flight School and completed training 2 years later on February 6, 1946 and was commissioned Ensign. He was carrier qualified aboard the USS Tarawa and attended All Weather Flight School, Corpus Christi, TX.  He served with Attack Squadron 11 Able, Air Ferry Squadron 2 NAS San Diego, Attack Squadron 114, Fighter Squadron 192, and Air Transport Squadron 7. During his career he was stationed at Naval Air Stations in Miramar, CA, Memphis, TN; Pensacola, FL; Atsugi, Japan; Iwakuni, Japan; and Moffet Field, CA, the USS Ranger, and USS Valley Forge aircraft carriers. He retired July 31, 1962 as a Lieutenant.                                       

During his 21 years of Naval service Foster flew the following aircraft:

J-3, N2S, SNJ, SB2C, SBD, TBF, F4U, SNB-5, F6F, AD, F8F, F9F, TO-1, T0-2, UF-1, OE-1, PBY, PBY-4Y2, R4D, and R7V. Foster was also dual rated in rotor-wing aircraft and flew the HO4S-3, HUP-2, and HTL-5. Foster’s decorations for service include Good Conduct, 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th Awards, National Defense, American Area, American Defense, China Service, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service, and the United Nations Service.

After his military career, Foster flew with multiple national and international air carriers circling the globe in DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, DC-10, and MD-80 aircraft

McDonnell Douglas hired him in 1978 as a production test pilot. He remained with McDonnell Douglas until his retirement in 1987 however; he maintained his flight ratings through the mid 1990’s training flight crews and delivering new production aircraft around the globe. Additional logbook entries indicate Foster also flew several general aviation aircraft the Cessna 140, Ercoupe, and Cessna 172.

He remained active in the Silver Eagles Enlisted Naval Aviation Pilots organization attending reunions with many of his closest squadron mates. He was also able to attend the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation celebrations throughout San Diego and Chino and enjoyed seeing so many of the aircraft he flew take to the air again in formation. His favorite aircraft to fly were without a doubt, the F4U’s and AD’s, although he loved every aircraft he flew. When the throttle was full forward and the wheels started to come off, he was smiling.

Lt. Frank P. Foster ADC(AP) died peacefully at his home. March 27, 2014. He will be interred at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego with military honors.

He inspired many other pilots to take to the skies and he will be greatly missed. He was a true, original Jetstream cowboy and an aviation master. He was also a kind and loving parent, grandfather, and great grandfather to his family. He loved his country his family, aviation, and has now gone west.