Frank Mann, Engineer, Aviator, Howard Hughes Associate, Dead at 84
HOUSTON (AP) _ Frank Mann, an engineer whose friendship with Howard Hughes led to a starring role in the ″Amos ‘N’ Andy″ radio show and to his participation with the ″Spruce Goose″ seaplane, has died. He was 84.
Mann died Sunday at Hermann Hospital, said his business manager, Paul Bryor. The hospital refused to release a cause of death.
Mann’s friendship with Hughes began in the 1920s, when both were teen-agers and shared a fascination with aviation.
Hughes allowed Mann, who was black, to work in a previously segregated shop. With Hughes’ assistance, Mann went to university, earning a mechanical engineering degree.
Mann flew reconnaissance missions for Ethiopia in 1935 after Italy’s invasion of that country. He later performed as a stunt pilot, wing walker and parachutist for a flying circus in Europe.
While working for Hughes in California, he assisted in movie productions and for a time played both principal roles in the ″Amos ‘N’ Andy″ radio show. Mann worked for Hughes Aircraft Co. during World War II. He participated in several projects, including Hughes’ effort to design a huge wooden seaplane known as the ″Spruce Goose.″ It was never placed in service.
Later, Mann worked on development of the first communications satellite for commercial use.
Mann will be cremated and his ashes scattered over a runway at the Los Angeles International Airport, Bryor said. There will be no services.
Mann is survived by a son, James Irving Mann of Houston.