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ROCKWELL TEST PILOT DIES FOLLOWING JET TRAINER CRASH

 SEAL BEACH, Calif., Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Frank T. Birk, a senior engineering test pilot for Rockwell International Corporation, died Aug. 2, after a jet trainer he was testing last week near Manching, Germany, crashed. Birk was 46.
 Birk was seriously injured last Tuesday (July 27) when a Ranger 2000 jet trainer crashed during a routine test flight. He was taken to Ingolstadt Hospital Center.
 "The death of Frank Birk is a tragedy. He was a highly decorated Air Force veteran who served Rockwell, and his country, with courage and distinction," said Donald R. Beall, Rockwell chairman and chief executive officer. "On behalf of all Rockwell employees, I want to express my deepest condolences to his wife, children, parents and other family members."
 Rockwell's Ranger 2000 jet trainer is the company's candidate for the Air Force/Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS). It was built in Germany by Deutsche Aerospace, which is teamed with Rockwell in the JPATS program competition. The trainer was the second of two built for JPATS evaluation.
 The cause of the crash is under investigation.
 Birk joined Rockwell's North American Aircraft Division in May 1993, upon retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel after a 25-year career.
 At the time of his retirement from the Air Force, Birk was director of the B-2 bomber combined test force and commander of the 6510th Test Group at the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
 Earlier, he had been chief of the B-1B division at Strategic Air Command Headquarters; director of flight test and director of operations for the B-1B combined test force at Edwards AFB; experimental test pilot and a C-141 instructor pilot/flight examiner at Travis Air Force Base in California.
 Birk was a decorated veteran combat pilot with more than 7,000 flight hours, more than 5,200 of them as pilot-in-command. He had 21 months of combat experience and had flown more than 800 close air support and forward air controller missions while based at DaNang Airbase, Vietnam, and Udorn Airbase, Thailand, in 1970 and 1971.
 He was awarded two Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 27 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
 Birk, who was married with three children, lived in Lancaster, Calif.
 Funeral arrangements are pending.
 -0- 8/4/93
 /CONTACT: Bill Blanning of Rockwell International, (Corporate) 310-797-5593, or Erik Simonsen Rockwell Interntional North American Aircraft Division, 310-414-1092/


CO: Rockwell International Corp. ST: California IN: ARO SU:

BP -- LA041 -- 9496 08/04/93 15:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 4, 1993
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