Jerome "Jerry" Lamprecht, an award-winning civil engineer who pulled off a daring around-the-world solo flight, died Friday in a fall from a tractor at a friend's farm in Fallston. He was 77.
Mr. Lamprecht, a resident of Bare Hills in Baltimore County, was known for his seemingly insatiable desire to test the limits of his skills as an engineer and pilot -- as well as an equally uncanny ability to survive occasional crashes, said a daughter, Lisa Sechler of Crofton.
Born in Utica, N.Y., Mr. Lamprecht learned to fly during World War II, when he entered the Navy after graduating from high school.
Like many Navy pilots, his first plane was the Stearman Kaydet, a two-seat biplane nicknamed the Yellow Peril for its sunny paint job and moody disposition during landings. The experience sparked a love of aeronautics that stayed with him throughout his life.
After the war, Mr. Lamprecht attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Graduating with a degree in civil engineering, he went to work for a small Baltimore engineering firm before starting his own consulting business in 1955.
By the early 1960s, Mr. Lamprecht had saved enough money to buy a single-engine Piper Comanche, which he would use to ferry his three children and their friends to Ocean City and give them impromptu flight lessons.
Occasionally, these lessons came in handy. One day, while flying a borrowed acrobatic plane upside-down over Frederick, Mr. Lamprecht turned to his daughter and said, "I'm feeling queasy. You'd better take it," recalled Ms. Sechler, who continued flying the plane upside-down while her father recovered.
In 1973, Mr. Lamprecht flew solo to Britain and back in his single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza. To complete the trip, he designed a back-seat fuel tank to extend his plane's range.
Inspired as a child by Wiley Post's around-the-world flight, Mr. Lambrecht embarked on his own in 1981. The flight in his single-engine Beechcraft required years of complex logistical planning. Because of the size of his plane, many of his supplies were sent ahead to his landing sites in various countries.
Not everything went as planned, said his daughter. While flying from Japan to the Aleutian Islands, foul weather forced him to land at a restricted U.S. military base on Adak Island, where he was confined to quarters until he could leave the next morning.
When he wasn't solving problems in the air, he was often solving them on the ground. As an engineer, he specialized in historic preservation projects.
"The more unusual the project was, the more interested he was," said architect W. Peter Pearre, whose firm often worked with Mr. Lamprecht.
After a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling of Baltimore's Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in 1993, Mr. Lamprecht helped determine that the ceiling had inadequate support and then figured out how to unobtrusively slip new steel beams into the building.
He was also part of the team that helped restore the Third Haven Meetinghouse near Easton, the oldest building in the state. Flying himself to the 300-year-old Quaker building, he worked out how to shore up the structure without disturbing its historic elements. After finishing in 1993, Mr. Lamprecht and the team were honored for their work by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In his flying, Mr. Lamprecht survived two crashes -- his first in Ocean City in the late 1960s, when his Piper plowed into the surf soon after takeoff. His last crash was in 1997 and made headlines when his Beechcraft hit a tree while landing at Clearview Airpark near Westminster.
Onlookers were stunned when Mr. Lamprecht, then 72, walked away from the accident, which totaled the airplane. He was whisked by helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and blacked out during the ride. True to form, say relatives, Mr. Lamprecht's biggest disappointment after the incident was not remembering his first helicopter ride. Afterward, Mr. Lamprecht bought a third airplane, which he flew until the time of his death.
Memorial services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Bishop Cummings Memorial Church, 2001 Frederick Road, Catonsville.
Mr. Lamprecht is also survived by his wife, the former Christine Rosemond, from whom he was separated, and a son, Tom Lamprecht, both of Greenville, N.C.; another daughter, Marianne Voorbrood of Hattiesburg, Miss.; four brothers, Joseph Lamprecht of Delmar, N.Y., Richard Lamprecht of Atlantic City, N.J., David Lamprecht of Clinton, La., and Daniel Lamprecht of St. Augustine, Fla.; a sister, Evaline Mills of Chestertown, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.
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