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a “contact analog” of the real runway, was called a Klopfstein Runway in his honor. In fact, the heads-up display itself was referred by many as the Klopfstein Display.


But during the development days, he had to convince doubters, so, in 1969, he retrofit a Sup’ Aero Nord 262 (s/n 55) passenger plane with his HUD so that he could take pilots up and show them what he had invented. Ever since Jimmy Doolitle first demonstrated in 1929 that instrument flight was possible, we as aviators have relied on pitch and power information to represent our trajectory through the air without having it displayed to us. One of the major challenges to become proficient in instrument flying is developing a visual scan across the various instruments to visualize what the airplane is actually doing. No one instrument by itself told you that, until Klopfstein’s heads-up display showed the “Flight Path” and energy superimposed on the real world.


THE AMERICANS COME ONBOARD Klopfstein thought the Americans might be keen to his new idea. To gain traction he arranged a trip to the US in 1972 in his Nord 262 demonstrator. He demonstrated his HUD to both MIT’s flight test labs as well as for the US Air Force at Wright Paterson. He was able to have both Barry Goldwater and Chuck Yeager fly with him and they bought into his concepts and wrote him complimentary papers appreciating what his concepts of trajectory and energy brought to flying. This brought him some challenges back home in France but didn’t deter him.


In 1976, Dassault test pilot Jean Coureau visited the center and flew with Klopfstein to better understand the principles being promoted by the young test pilot. He, like his American counterparts, grasped the breakthrough of flying Path and Energy in a conformal depicted Heads Up Display. Those critical flights laid the groundwork in which Dassault would adopt Klopfstein’s philosophy full-bore, first in their fighter aircraft and later in their business jets, making Dassault a world leader in using HUDs in their military, commercial and business aircraft.


Klopfstein’s ideas took off and the US military embraced them completely. In 1982, he was invited to come to the US to fly the F-18 (which first flew in 1976) to see how the Americans were


Klopfstein used a Dassault Mirage IIIB to refine his Path & Energy Concepts and Symbology


using his “Klopfstein Display”. He was met at the airport and brought out to the then secret F-18 and flew two long flights to experience how his HUD concepts were being utilized in new fighter aircraft.


KLOPFSTEIN’S GENIUS ADOPTED BY DASSAULT Not long after, Klopfstein retired from his role in the French military. He published several books on aerodynamics and the dynamics of flight and was a respected professor. Ironically, Klopfstein never patented any of his inventions and in the end died penniless and alone at the age of 73 on November 2nd, 2006 in Southern France. But his legacy lives on in every Dassault product.


Gilbert would have been pleased to see how far his “snowflakes” breakthrough has come, and Dassault is pleased to give credit to the Frenchman who had the vision to see what others didn’t.


By the time the EASy II flight deck with its heads down synthetic vision came out, the true power of Klopfstein’s vision was implemented. Not only were both the heads-up and heads-down displays showing harmonized information, the path-based flight director and flight path vector showed conformally where the trajectory and energy are taking the airplane. Gilbert would have been pleased to see how far his “snowflakes” breakthrough has come, and Dassault is pleased to give credit to the Frenchman who had the vision to see what others didn’t.


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