Francis Davis

In March of 1955, a national publication wrote this about Broadcast Pioneers member, Dr. Francis Davis.

When the viewer hears the soft, rather nasal tones of WFIL-TV's weatherman, Francis Davis, on What's the Weather? he senses that here is a prognosticator who takes his business seriously. When Davis skips the humor and philosophy and turns to barometric readings, the viewer is assured he's getting authentic meteorological data.

Weather hasn't always been Frank's first love, morning, noon and night. As a physics and math graduate of West Chester State Teacher's College and a chemist student at Temple University, he was head for a career in research chemistry. Then the Army stepped in and not only changed his life for four years but for a lifetime.

Frank enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and not only was trained for flying but for meteorology as well. The Army sent him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a nine month weather course before sending him out on air operations. And Frank admits he loved it. In ?43 he returned to MIT, together with other weather officers, to work on plans for the invasion of Europe. The group checked over scores of old charts and reports on weather conditions off Normandy for the past 40 years. From this mass of meteorological data, a three-week period in June of 1944 was pinpointed as offering the most favorable weather. A SHAEF weather officer in England received the report and selected a specific date as the best bet. This was how D-Day was chosen.

In November of 1945, Frank again had a hand in a major Army endeavor. This time it was the "Dreamboat Project," an attempt to set a new record for a continuous non-stop flight from Guam to Washington, D.C. When the squadron of B-29's went aloft at Guam, the fate of the Air Force men aboard was in the hands of God and the weather servicemen who had plotted the weather charts for the long journey. Davis was one of the plotters and for his accurate work (the flight was a success) he received a commendation from the Army.

During his MIT stint for the Army, Frank had picked up his Master's degree. When he returned to civilian life he joined the teaching staff at Drexel Institute of Technology and has been a professor of physics and meteorology there since 1946. Meantime, he has received another physics from Penn and is working on his Ph.D.

In 1947 Frank joined WFIL radio as a weather analyst and in ?49 brought his twice nightly, Monday-through Saturday weathercasting to TV, via Channel 6.

Next time you see and hear Frank's What's the Weather? report, remember D-Day and "Dreamboat"and take the man's weather word as gospel.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Article originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Francis Davis
© 2001, All Rights Reserved

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