David H. Finney was the Chief of the Johnson Space Center Aircraft Operations Division in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate until his retirement from NASA in July 2008. The Division operated 44 aircraft of eight types that flew 11,000 annual flight hours in support of human space flight and aeronautical research programs.
Finney was raised in Auburn, Kentucky. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1967 and earned his Navy Wings of Gold in 1968. He joined an A-7A squadron at NAS Lemoore, California in 1969, made one cruise aboard the USS Oriskany (CVA-34) and flew seventy-five combat missions in Southeast Asia.
He graduated from the United States Naval Postgraduate School in 1973 with a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. From 1973 to 1975 he served as a project officer in VX-5 at Naval Weapons Center China Lake, California. In 1976 he returned to sea in a department head tour in A-7A’s and A-7E’s aboard the USS Midway (CVA-41), which was home ported in Yokosuka, Japan. He completed the British Empire Test Pilot School at A&AEE Boscombe Down, Salisbury, England in 1979. Following graduation, he reported to Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland and conducted a Navy Preliminary Evaluation of the FA-18A Hornet, the aircraft destined to become the sea service’s frontline fighter.
Commander Finney served as the Executive Officer and later as the Commanding Officer of VA-82 from 1981 to 1984 and completed two Mediterranean cruises with the squadron aboard the USS Nimitz (CV-68). He returned to the Naval Air Test Center in 1984 and served as the Head of Carrier Suitability and later as the Chief Test Pilot of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate.
Commander Finney retired from the Naval Service in 1987 and joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as a civilian research pilot and engineering manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He concurrently managed the acquisition program for a second B747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. From 1989 to 1993 he served as the Deputy Chief and Chief of the Flight Crew Operations Space Station and Exploration Support Office, which was tasked with representing the Astronaut Office for design and developmental activities. He returned to the Aircraft Operations Division in 1993 as the Deputy Chief and was selected as the Chief in 1994.
Finney has flown 9277 flight hours in 30 types of aircraft and was current in the T-38A, T-38N, Super Guppy, B747 Shuttle Carrier, and the G159 aircraft with NASA.
David Haley Finney passed away on Dec. 11, 2010, at the age of 65. He was survived by his wife Jill and his three sons, Navy Cmdr. Matthew David Finney, Cmdr. Benjamin Haley Finney, and Nathaniel Ryan Finney.
His Navy awards and decorations include: the Meritorious Service Medal; the Air Medal (6); Navy Commendation with Combat V; the Navy Achievement Medal; and various group, unit and theatre awards.
His NASA awards and decorations include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; The NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal; the 2008 GSA Federal Aviation Manager of the Year; Five Group Achievement Awards; and the Aviation Safety Award.