Eustace P. Hetzel

September 19, 1917 - July 6, 2018


Eustace P. Hetzel, age 100, of Downey, passed peacefully on July 6, 2018. Born in Montana, raised in Missouri, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, where he graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor’s in Aeronautical Engineering, and where he met Marguerite (Peggy) Brown, who he would later marry in Lima, Peru. He received a Master’s of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from Caltech in 1940. A longtime resident of Downey, “Hetz” spent most of his career as a test pilot and chief flight test engineer for a variety of southern California companies, including, North American, Northrop, and Rockwell. His testing included the P61 Black Widow, the Northrop YB-35 Flying Wing, a deployable glider system for the Gemini capsule, and the F/A-18 Hornet. After retiring in 1978 he continued to be a private pilot late into his life. With his flying days finally behind him, he studied Russian and worked into his 90s translating Russian engineering periodicals into English. Hetz is survived by his daughter, Marguerite McClure, granddaughter Suzanne Pipkin and her husband, Mike, grandson Jef McClure and his wife, Lisa, great-granddaughters, Alison Pipkin and Katelyn Pipkin. He was a generous and considerate man, and his family and friends loved him dearly. The family requests that donations be made to KCET at, as Hetz enjoyed their programming and was a consistent donor over the years.