John Silva

John Silva

American engineer
Date of Birth: 20.02.1920
Country: USA

Biography of John Silva

John Daniel Silva was born on February 20, 1920, in San Diego. He was the youngest of three children of Guy Silva, a fisherman, and his wife Lottie. Silva attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years and then graduated from Stanford University two years later.

During World War II, Silva served in the Navy, maintaining radar equipment in the Pacific Ocean. After the war, he worked as an engineer at the experimental television station at Paramount Pictures, which later became KTLA.

Silva joined KTLA in 1946 and worked there until 1978 when he became a consultant for electronic design. He was known for his innovative work in the field of engineering and was awarded two Emmy Awards for his contributions.

In 1958, Silva transformed a small helicopter into the first virtual television studio in the air, known as the "Telecopter." This revolutionary invention allowed television stations to capture live footage from a moving aircraft, providing viewers with a bird's-eye view of events such as wildfires or high-speed chases.

The Telecopter became the main tool for live coverage of traffic situations, disasters, and celebrity events at KTLA. Silva collaborated with fellow engineers at KTLA to stabilize the onboard cameras and reduce the weight of the equipment for easier transportation. These efforts resulted in a significant reduction in weight, from 2000 pounds to 368 pounds.

KTLA faced increasing competition in the late 1950s, and the Telecopter helped the station gain an edge over its rivals. Reporters were able to quickly reach the scene of incidents, saving time and providing viewers with more engaging stories.

Silva's technical ingenuity was already evident in 1949 when he served as the technical director at KTLA. One of his notable achievements was the coverage of the failed rescue operation of three-year-old Kathy Fiscus, which is considered a landmark event in the history of American television. This live coverage served as a precursor to future news broadcasts.

John Silva passed away on November 27, 2012, at the age of 92, in Camarillo, California. His death was confirmed by a representative from KTLA-TV, where Silva had worked for over 30 years. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Steinkraus-Silva, and three daughters.