Wall of Honor Location:
Foil: 15 Panel: 3 Column: 2 Line: 112
Wall of Honor Level:
Air and Space Friend
Gerard "Jerry" Durand
Jerry's love of aviation began when a barnstorming pilot took him aloft in a World War I bomber in 1930. He completed an aviation program at the Connecticut State trade school then got a job with Piper Aviation. The owners, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Piper, wanted every employee to fly. Jerry soloed in less than five hours but was airsick every minute of the flight. Motion sickness would plague Jerry throughout his life.
Jerry began welding at Piper and then worked at Chance-Voight, building military airplanes. He worked with aviation companies all over the country, accepting positions to gain more experience. He did sheet metal work with Sikorsky on two-engine and four-engine flying boats and then accepted a job at Argonaut, where he did all the welding. He also worked at Rearwin Aviation, Curtis Wright, TWA, and Porterfield Aircraft Corporation.
At Porterfield, Jerry built an entire experimental, two-seater, one-engine airplane, except for the wooden wings. The company called the aircraft the Porterfield Zephyr and showed the new plane off at the National Aviation show at Grand Central Palace in New York City.
In 1939, Jerry accepted a position at Norfolk Naval Air Station (NAS) in Virginia. During World War II, there was a shortage of aviation mechanics so Jerry developed a curriculum and taught basic aircraft repair to women at Virginia Technical College, later called Old Dominion University.
He repaired hundreds of wrecked aircraft and helicopters during 1945 to 1960. He also taught welding until 1955. He progressed in his career and in 1970 retired as superintendent from NAS, now called the Naval Air Rework Facility.
After retirement Jerry and his wife of 67 years, Dean, traveled all over the United States and Canada photographing beautiful places and wrote about them in Modem Maturity. They are also the parents of 9 children and have over 40 grandchildren and great grandchildren.