M.P. “Pappy” Papadakis was born In New York, NY in 1940.He was the son of an immigrant Greek who came to USA alone at age 16, served in the Army as a drill instructor in WWI. Obtained a PhD magna Cum Laude from Columbia University and retired a research chemist after years as a professor Emeritus.
Pappy graduated with engineering degree from University of Nebraska, served as a US Navy Officer, Navy carrier Pilot and second tour Navy Research and Development Test Pilot. He then flew both domestic and international for Delta Airline Inc. He has Captained B737, B727, B757, B767, Lockheed Tri Star and Boeing 767-400NG aircraft. His logbook shows 23,500+ accident free flight hours in 40 different aircraft. He has landed aboard air craft carriers. [Ranger CV61, ShangRiLa CV38, CVs Lake Champlain39, CVs Essex9, CVsWasp11 and CVt Lexington16.]
Pappy attended Law school graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1974. He has published extensively including two reference Legal text books and over 40 professional journal articles. In his lifetime he has evaluated, investigated or helped litigate over 450 separate aircraft accidents. The International Society of Air Safety Investigators awarded him their yearly 2013 Jerome Lederer Air Safety Award signifying technical excellence in aircraft Accident Investigation. In his spare time Papadakis has taught Aviation Law and Product Liability Law from 1980 through 2016. He is currently Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Brent Coon & Associates in Beaumont, Texas.
Pappy’s career is unique not because of any single superlative act directed toward aviation safety or participation in any single aircraft accident investigation. Rather it is a life-long endeavor reflecting a dedication to improving quality assurance and systematically addressing aviation hazards to thereby reduce crashes.
Pappy started as a mechanical engineering student where he wrote a thesis on cockpit design. As pilot in his first navy squadron he was assigned quality control duties, and in that capacity he investigated his first accident in1967. His second duty tour was as a research and development test pilot at Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, PA. There he was Search and Rescue (SAR) project officer and then program manager. He became the youngest member, speaking with authority, for the Navy to the Joint Services SAR, under Air Force General Stulken.
After leaving the Navy he became a pilot for Delta airlines. He was a line pilot from January 1970 through age 60 retirement in 2001. He accumulated 23,500 + flight hours and type ratings in the B737, B727, B757, B767, B767NG-400 and L1011. He has flown domestic and international flights. By flying every weekend and holiday he attended law school and graduated in 1974 .He continued that flying lifestyle so as to work at safety matters the rest of the time.
A very active member of the Airline Pilot’s Association he worked in safety related matters for over 22 of his 31 years. He was accident investigator, incident investigator, Houston Local Executive Committee Safety Chairman, Operation USA member, All Weather Flying committee alternate, and Master Executive Council Contract Negotiator. He was involved with the Safety Committee for over 20 years. He attended innumerable safety conferences and also the (DOT) NTSB accident investigating training course in Oklahoma City.
Thereafter, armed with the law to force disclosure, his investigations often delved deeper than most governmental inquiries could. The NTSB finds "probable cause" and makes recommendations … while Pappy’s investigations relentlessly pursue the even deeper question of “why.”
Pappy also used his talent and dedication to force retrospective looks into lessons not learned or lessons forgotten. And his ability to delve across civilian and military lines sometimes produced startling results.
Pappy, through soliciting contributions, helped fund Dr. Ron Stearman's tufted wind tunnel and flight testing of the V-tail Bonanza that showed what phenomena occurring in aero-elastic deformation of the inboard leading edges.
Pappy’s analysis also pointed out the Kapton insulation flash-over problems in USAF F-16 well before the civilian world got concerned.
Pappy’s other work on a K.I. Sawyer B-52 explosion showed what a fuel vapor exposure and a dry running air pump would result in. Strangely the Air Force had forgotten the need to submerge all tanks because of potential ignition sources. Unfortunately, it took the TWA 800 tragedy to remind this industry of the requirement for fuel to remain unburned in tanks. The USAF Had learned this in a 1970 B-52 dry run fire.
Since 1972 Pappy has worked on 450 aviation accidents. Sometimes investigating, often evaluating and occasionally litigating. His diligent work has resulted corrections in accident reports in the USAF, USN and NTSB. He also pointed out errors to NASA in their Challenger Presidential Commission report.
He has co-authored the 800-page referenced book, “Aircraft Accident Reconstruction and Litigation,” which is now in its fourth printing, and is recognized as the definitive text on this subject. The book serves as an investigation manual for laymen, while providing an introduction to legal procedures for consultants and expert witnesses.
In addition he is published extensively in "ISASI forum" - along with other safety publications and law and trade journals.
The book, “Aircraft accident Reconstruction and Litigation,” has sold and is used in the USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Austria, Holland, France, Israel, Switzerland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. It is a reference text utilized in many regulatory agencies’ libraries.
As Adjunct Law Professor at STCL in Houston, Texas, from 1980 he has regularly taught classes in “Aviation Law” and “Advanced Product Liability Law.” He has been named Honored Adjunct Faculty Member and given the SBA Faculty Excellence Award.
He is in:
- Who’s Who in Education
- Who’s Who in American Law
- Who’s Who in America
Pappy describes himself as a “tortoise in the marathon of life” who has always moved toward the goal of safety and fewer accidents. It is no single event that makes Pappy an apt candidate for this award. But Professor Lederer himself wrote the foreword to Pappy’s book, saying.
“Engineers and probably lawyers will appreciate this books refreshing review of aerodynamics, structural design, power plants, and aircraft control techniques as well as applicable nuances of the law…..The book could be considered a post graduate guide for the hardware oriented aircraft accident investigator, especially the chapters on human errors and human factors …. I wish I had this compendium during the early years of my professional experience.”