MAE Remembers Dedicated Mentor Who Shared His Love of Rockets

Charles and Janet Hoult with students at a rocket competition
Charley Hoult, right, accompanied by wife Janet, at the ESRA launch site in Green River, Utah.

Charles Hoult, a longtime Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering mentor, has passed away after a short illness. Hoult shared a half-century of rocketry experience with students involved with the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA). Students plan to pay tribute to their beloved mentor by propelling some of his ashes skyward during their next rocket launch.

Hoult first began working with research rockets in 1958 while an Air Force 2nd lieutenant assigned to the Cambridge Research Lab in Bedford, Mass. He continued working at the lab for a decade, seven years after he left the service. While there, he performed systems engineering and flight testing on a variety of research, or sounding, rockets, from the Nike-Cajun thru the Aerolab Argo D-4.

After leaving the lab, Hoult worked for El Monte-based Space General on the Aerobee and Astrobee rockets; Space Vector Corp. of Canoga Park on the Aries guided sounding rocket and guidance and attitude control systems; and in the late 1970s as a consultant.

He spent the next three decades supporting the Titan launch vehicle and various classified satellite and missile defense projects while working for the Aerospace Corp. and TRW, retiring in 2007. He had been working as a CSULB mentor and adjunct professor for the past decade, most recently working with the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association.

Hoult, who went by “Charley,” was often accompanied by his wife, Janet, a Culver City poet laureate and retired Cal State University Los Angeles professor. On his website, Hoult referred to Janet as: “my wife, soul mate and boon companion. She has been a den grandmother to a whole generation of aerospace engineering students who have gained much from her insights, warmth, and wisdom.”

During his career, Hoult participated in launches from White Sands, N.M.; Fort Churchill, Manitoba, Canada; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Barreira do Inferno, Natal, Brazil; Western Test Range, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, Fla.; and the Friends of Amateur Rocketry Site in the Mojave desert.

Hoult was an alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UCLA, and a member of the American Institute of, the Planetary Society, and the Air Force Association. During his career, he published 17 papers on mission planning, structural loads, trajectory dispersion and post-burnout attitude.

“The College mourns the loss of a true friend and supporter,” said College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani. “Charley impacted numerous COE students and nurtured many young minds. He and Janet were an inspirational team. Our thoughts are with Janet.”

MAE Department Coordinator Leanne Hayes said the couple inspired many. “He and Janet were so active and involved with so many things, mentoring young people, and giving all of us an excellent example of how to live well by helping others and staying active long after retirement,” she said.

Hoult succumbed to leukemia on Wednesday, Nov. 23, less than a month after being diagnosed. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Grace Lutheran Church, 4427 Overland Ave., Culver City, CA 90232. Donations may be made in Hoult’s memory to ESRA via Paypal.