The Charles N. Sherlock Meritorious Service Recognition provides acknowledgement for an individual’s outstanding voluntary service to the Society, through single or aggregate activities, though not necessarily in any single year. In 2004, the award was renamed in honor of its first recipient, Charles N. Sherlock.
2019 winner Flynn Spears started in NDT in 1974 as a US Air Force (USAF) NDI Test Technician, working with Percival Tapia, his military supervisor who was instrumental in the formation and start of the USAF NDI School in Chanute, Illinois. From there, Spears continued his education in the use and performance of those same NDT methods at Boeing in R&D with King Vanier in the X-ray lab, and others in UT and field inspection application and procedure development. It was there that Spears came to work with some of the early pioneers in aircraft NDT, such as Charlie Raatz, Kingsley Vannier, Van Phelps, and George Ansley, to name a few. These pioneers also mentored him, along with Tapia, who also joined the Boeing Customer Support Group toward the late 1970s. They all strongly encouraged him remain in the field of nondestructive testing, for at that time, a young black man working in commercial NDT was rare.
Spears’s involvement in ASNT’s Pacific Northwest Section from 1975—learning from and working with Roy Odell, Rich McGuire, Bill Kitson, and many others with the Section under numerous roles—helped guide him, along with his national involvement. Through the support of Zetec Inc. in the early 1980s under Clyde Denton (president and owner), Spears continued to grow and show his ability to communicate and participate on many levels related to new market segments such as nuclear steam generator inspection, instrument development, and sales rep management. Sitting on the planning committee for a joint conference of the Canadian Society for Nondestructive Testing (CSNDT) and ASNT to the now well-established NDT of Composites conference (hosted by ASNT and the Pacific Northwest Section) continues to show his dedication to the promotion and application of NDT in the various market segments the profession serves.
Spears is an ASNT Fellow (class of 2003); former Director at Large on the ASNT Board of Directors (two terms); Aerospace, Laser Methods, Exhibitors, Military Outreach, and Governance Committee member; Level II and IIA EC and Level II in laser shearography; and former USAF NDI 7 Level inspector in all methods. His continuing contributions as an industry and NDT methods speaker at military, aviation/aerospace, professional society organizations, training institutions, and local sections over the years have benefited all who have been or are just starting in their careers as inspectors and sales personnel.