Monday, April 25, 2011

Maj David W. Peterson

F-15 Streak Eagle pilots (from left) Maj. W.R. Macfarlane, Maj. Roger Smith and Maj. Dave Peterson.









Colonel Roger J. Smith

F-15 Streak Eagle pilots (from left) Maj. W.R. Macfarlane, Maj. Roger Smith and Maj. Dave Peterson.






Colonel Roger J. Smith, as the first Air Force pilot assigned to the F-15 program, was responsible for much of the early development and testing of the F-15. A tactical fighter pilot in F-100, F-105, A-37 and F-15 aircraft, Colonel Smith flew 203 combat missions over Southeast Asia. He graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1965. Returning to Edwards AFB in 1969 after his combat tour, Smith was the first USAF pilot assigned to the F-15 program. Serving as Deputy Test Director until 1975, he was the ninth overall pilot to fly the Eagle and attained several firsts as well. Project Streak Eagle set all eight world time-to-climb records and was the result of a proposal instigated and directed by Smith and performed by him along with two other test pilots. Colonel Smith took the F-15 to Bitburg Air Base in Germany, where he commanded the first F-15 squadron in Europe from 1977 to 1979. Retiring as Director of Flight Test at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, he completed his career with Sverdrup Technology at Eglin AFB in Florida as their Deputy Director of Test and Evaluation. Colonel Smith is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and recipient of the Mackay Trophy in 1975. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Air Medal with 19 Oak Leaf Clusters. He has logged more than 6,000 hours in over 45 types of aircraft.

Col Willard R. MacFarlane

F-15 Streak Eagle pilots (from left) Maj. W.R. Macfarlane, Maj. Roger Smith and Maj. Dave Peterson.






Col Willard R. MacFarlane was awarded the prestigious Mackay Trophy by distinguishing himself in the most meritorious flight of 1974. Then-Major Macfarlane, with Major Roger Smith and Major David Peterson, demonstrated the outstanding performance of the new McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle during Operation Streak Eagle at Edwards AFB, California, and Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota. Macfarlane set eight world time- to-climb records, his highest being to 12,000 meters in just 59.38 seconds. His extensive background included duty in Southeast Asia flying missions in the F-4, F-104, and O-1E, exchange duty with the Royal Air Force flying the Hawker Hunter, instructor in combat tactics for the German Fighter Weapons School and as Deputy Director of the F-15 Joint Test Force. A graduate of the USAF Academy, he is a native of Ogden, Utah.

Col Joseph W. Rogers 1924-2005



Born on May 28, 1924 in Chillicothe, Ohio, Joseph W. Rogers began his historic aviation career when he joined the Army Air Corps on May 23, 1943. After graduating Aviation Cadet Training Class 44H at Williams Army Air Field, Arizona, in 1944, Rogers served as an instructor pilot flying AT-6 Texan and BT-13 Valiant training aircraft at Minter and Merced AAF’s.
In 1946, Rogers received orders to join the 431st FBS of the 475th FBW based at Kempo, Korea to participate in United State’s effort to reinforce U.N. forces in that nation. On November 8, 1950, the then Capt. Rogers achieved a rare MiG-15 jet kill while flying in his piston-engine F-51D Mustang named Buckeye Blitz VI. After four years of combat in the F-51, Joe transitioned into the F-80 Shooting Star with the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing. By the end of his involvement in the War, Rogers logged almost 200 missions in the Korean Theater.
Back on US soil, the newly appointed Major continued his flying career with the famous 71st Fighter Squadron flying F-86A Sabre. In 1954, Rogers entered F-86D Maintenance School and later USAF’s Test Pilots School, among the students in his class were future astronauts L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. and Virgil' Gus' Grissom. After graduation, Rogers joined the F-86D Test Program, and later the F-102A/B / F-106A/B Interceptor Development Programs. During his next assignment as Project Officer for F-106 integration at Air Defense Command Headquarters, Joe was chosen for a project that changed his life.
After the Air Forces selection of the F-106 Delta Dart to make the Services latest attempt at the Absolute Speed Record, there was no question who would pilot the aircraft in this joint USAF / Convair project, Maj. Joe Rogers. On December 15, 1959, the Major became the fastest Jet Pilot in the World after flying F-106A # 56-0467 to an average speed of 1525.95 mph. F-106 # -0467 flew the record flight after F-106A # 56-0459 experienced technical problems throughout the project. On its last flight in Firewall # -0459 became uncontrollable, fortunately Rogers was able to “settle her down” and land the aircraft. In honor of his skillful airmanship demonstrated during the "Firewall Project" Rogers received worldwide recognition and was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross, The DeLavaulx Medal, and the 25th recipient of the Thompson Trophy, an award that can be traced back to the National Air Races in 1929.
In 1960, Lieutenant Colonel Rogers took command of the Air Force's largest Fighter Squadron, the 317th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron formerly based at McChord AFB, now headquartered at Elmendorf AFB, AK. Joe proved to be one of the Squadrons best Pilots flying in the F-102 Delta Dagger, this fact confirmed after winning the USAF’s Air to Air Weapons Meet, "Top Gun" award in 1963. The Fighter meet named William Tell is a competition that pits the best Fighter-Interceptor aircrews from around the Air Force.
After a four year command of the 317th FIS, Joe was lured back to flight testing when he took command of the SR-71A / F-12A Test Force. On December 18, 1969, Joe cheated death once again. While flying a test mission with SR-71A # 64-17953, Colonel Rogers and his RSO, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Heidelbaugh experienced an in-flight explosion causing a very dangerous high-speed pitch up. Unable to regain control of the aircraft, both men were forced to eject from the aircraft.
In 1973, Joe was thrust back into combat in the skies of Asia as the Vice Commander of the 3rd Fighter Wing in South Vietnam. He flew more than 40 missions, most of them in the A-37 Dragonfly and the F-4 Phantom II. Later, Rogers served as Asst. Deputy Commander of the 7th and the 13th Air Forces in Vietnam.
In February 1975, during his final assignment as Chief of Staff for Operations at Aerospace Defense Headquarters, Joe Rogers retired from the Air Force after a 29 year career. After retirement Joe signed on with Northrop Aerospace, where he worked in the companies Fighter Division, Asian-Pacific Region, marketing F-5 Tiger & F-20 Tigershark fighter aircraft. Rogers retired after 13 years, but provided his valuable aviation knowledge to the company as a consultant.

Capt Walter W. Irwin


Capt. Walter W Irwin established a new world speed record of 1,404.1 mph over the precision speed measuring course at Edwards AFB, CA., in a Lockheed F-104A Starfighter.




Col Adrian Eason Drew 1920-1985





December 12, 1957, Operation Fire Wall: Maj. Adrian Drew, of the 27th Fighter Bomber Wing, Bergstrom AFB, TX, established a world speed record of 1,207.6 mph in a F-101A Voodoo (sn 53-2426) in a course over Edwards AFB, CA.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thomas W. Attridge 1923-1997

Born in 1923, and the son of a native-Irish New Jersey pastor, he graduated from the elite Phillips Exeter Academy in 1942 amidst the war clouds of the Second World War. Going into the Navy, the young Ensign married, and was sent to the Pacific, where he flew Hellcats with Air Group 21 (Fighting Squadron 21 - VF-21), aboard the USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24). In June of 1944, the unit was engaged in air support of ground mop-up operations on Guam, followed by initial strikes on Palau and the Philippines. In October, the unit launched strikes on Okinawa, Formosa, Luzon, and Leyte, and participated in the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, striking the northern Japanese force, consisting of four carriers, two battleships, and multiple cruisers and destroyers.
He became a test pilot for Grumman and in 1956 was the centre of a bizarre occurence when he 'shot himself down' when he flew into its own ordnance trajectory during a test firing of its 20 mm cannons. Attridge continued his work with Grumman, returning to flight status less than six months later. Afterwards, he would become the project manager for LEM-3 - the first lunar module rated for human flight. It flew as "Spider" with the crew of Apollo 9. He would also go on to become vice president of Grumman Ecosystems, the company's environmental management and research venture, which resulted in advances that resulted in the digital camera. He passed away in 1997.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kevin L. Bredenbeck











Kevin L. Bredenbeck is Director of Flight Operations and Chief Test Pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft. Kevin is responsible for the global oversight and operations of the Sikorsky Flight Office, and Flight Operations. Kevin’s charter is to provide the leadership and oversight ensuring that Sikorsky continues its outstanding flight test development safety record across global operations, including definition and implementation of processes and procedures that guarantee that success.

Since joining Sikorsky Aircraft in May of 1994, Kevin has performed in a variety of assignments from Test Pilot to Director Test & Evaluation and been instrumental in developing new technologies for the various production models and the test flying on numerous growth and development programs.

At present he stays busy with the test teams responsible for the six ongoing development programs at Sikorsky. The FBW H-92, the FBW U.S. Army UH-60MU Black Hawk, S-70i International Black Hawk, the S76D, the FBW U.S. Marine Corp CH-53K Super Stallion and the FBW X2 high speed demonstrator helicopter in which he has been involved with since its inception back in 2004.

Prior to joining Sikorsky Aircraft Kevin was an officer in the U.S. Army where his responsibilities ranged from aviation maintenance and contracts, to aero-medical combat operations. Prior to the Army he was an engineer with Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, Connecticut and an engineer with United Space Boosters Incorporated, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Kevin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Studies & Avionics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is a graduate of National Test Pilot Schools Rotor-Wing Course. Professional training includes the Center for Creative Leadership and the Darden United Technologies Corporation Executive Leaders Program.

He has flown over 24 different fixed-wing and over 35 different rotary-wing types including all Sikorsky series production aircraft. Both military and civilian has accumulated over 6000 total safe flying hours rotary wing and fixed wing in all environments; domestic, international, test and combat. Kevin has received numerous decorations * and awards for aviation safety, performance, and combat service and set an NAA world record in the S70. As for the X-2 Technology Demonstrator in

Professional Affiliations include; Army Aviation Association America, American Helicopter Society, National Aeronautics Association and Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

George Gordon

Pratt and Whitney B-52 Test Crew, Stan Hopperstead, George Gordon, Dan ? Drost and Dan Culhane







B-52 with Pratt and Whitney JT-9D test engine


George Gordon joined the AirForce during the Korean war, having never thought about a military career, however, he did like to fly and had taken lessons in an Aeroncia while in high school. He applied for Aviation Cadets after he enlisted ( had 2 years of college at the time). He flew the T-6 & B-25 graduated and went to SAC to fly B-50's, when he reached the 1000 hours needed to check out as Aircraft Commander (he had 1008), he then went to B-47 school, flew for part of a year, got out and back to college to finish his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Whilst in college (Stevens Institute of Engineering) he joined the NY ANG; and started to fly B-26's, changing to F-94B's (for a year), then changed to F-86H's, in which he had a couple of flights. He then flew C-119's, shortly after that he quit (that was the worst thing he ever flew!)

After college, he went to work at North American to work on the B-70, in a group called Flight Test Projects (where he met Scott Crossfield there; the X-15 was just starting to fly). When the B-70 (and F-108) were canceled, NA laid off 2000 engineers, including George. He joined PWA as a test engineer in mechanical components. After a year and a half he joined the Mass Air National Guard (F-86H's); two months later he was called up for the Berlin Wall build-up, spending a year in France, mostly flying the T-33, as he had not yet checked out in the F-86. He retired from the Guard (& AF) in 1978 as a Lt/Col. He also left PWA at that time to pursue other interests (going into business with his brother)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stanley J.Kakol 1926-2006

Stanley Kakol in X-22
Stanley Kakol (left) with fellow test pilot Paul Miller


Mr. Kakol attended the University of Rochester, Hobart College and the University of Pennsylvania. During the early Navy V-5 and V-12A flight training program he graduated from the U.S. Navy Flight School at Pensacola on his 21st birthday in November 1947, and after completing a tour of duty with a patrol squadron flying the PB4Y-2, was assigned to VX-1, where he served as a Project Pilot in the low altitude night searchlight and auto-pilot evaluation of the only Douglas AD-5S. He was also a Project Pilot on OP-VIO9 in the development of helicopter sonar both day and night, and project BU-V77 minesweeping with helicopters. He joined General Electric in early 1958 as an Engineering Test Pilot and flew the HSS-IF (S-58T) and the HSS-2 (S-61) helicopter on development flight tests of the GE-T-58 turbo-shaft engine. Flight tests covered the engine starting envelope, inlet distortion, load sharing, transient and steady state free turbine droop, salt water ingestion, power management, performance, and emergency throttle operation. He left GE for Bell Aerospace as their Chief Experimental Test Pilot and flew the V/STOL ducted propeller X-22A aircraft on its first and subsequent 100 flights. He conducted all of the structural demonstrations and handling qualities investigation per mil spec. 8708 to the limit of the aircraft's capability, and after experiencing a double hydraulic failure in the flight control system, survived an emergency landing in which the airplane was destroyed. He delivered a technical paper on the X-22A to the X1 SETP 1966 Symposium, and the East Coast Section. He left Bell for Overseas National Airways (DNA) as a Lockheed Electra Captain, and later upgrading to the DC-9. He left DNA for a position as a Flight Test Pilot for the FAA's Eastern Region. He was then employed by General Electric again as an Engineering Test Pilot assigned to Construcciones Aeronáuticas, S.A. (CASA) of Spain performing engineering test flights of the CN-235 Regional Air Transport powered by GE CT-7-7 turbo-prop engine leading to FAR-25 certification. He participated in the 1984 Farnborough Air Show, and the 1985 Paris Air Show demonstrating this aircraft. He had flown over 40 different aircraft; has amassed over 20,000 flight hours,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Richard A. Balzer 1931-1995



Richard A. Balzer, Sr., of Malvern, Pennsylvania died in January 1995 in a hunting accident. Balzer was a former test pilot for Boeing Defense & Space Group, Helicopter Div. for more than thirty years and over his lifetime he had amassed more than 15, 000 flight hours.
He graduated from Springfield College (in Massachusetts) with a degree in physical education. As a major in the Marine Corps he flew helicopters and the renowned "SPAD" (AD). After being released from active duty, he flew for New York Airways flying the Piasecki H-21 and V-107.
He joined Boeing in 1963. There he was the project and demo pilot for the BO105 and the Model 234. In 1981 he became the Boeing project pilot for the V-22 tiltrotor, conducting its first flight, and logging more than 170 flight test hours. In 1992 Balzer began working with Piasecki Aircraft Corp. on the company's piloted simulation of the Vectored Thrust Combat Agility Demonstrator (VTCAD). The project explored the compounding of the AH-64A and the AH-1W with the Piasecki Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP). Balzer then worked on the handling qualities of the Piasecki 16H-7, a compound helicopter design under Navy contract for the Medium Lift Replacement.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Robert L. Hall 1905-1991





















Robert L. Hall was born in was born in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1905. In 1931, Robert Hall won $3150 at the Cleveland National Air Races. Hall was chief engineer and test pilot at Grumman. In 1936, becoming the first pilot of the XF4F-2 Wildcat, the G-21 Goose in 1937, the XP-50 in 1941, the XF6F-1 Hellcat in 1942 and the F-8F Bearcat in 1944.

Julius Barr 1905-1939


On March 18, 1939, a prototype of the Boeing Stratoliner crashes on Mount Rainier on a test flight, killing the Boeing Company's Chief Engineer and Chief Aerodynamicist and eight others.
According to the findings of the accident investigation, the aircraft was at 10,000 feet when the maneuver was attempted. The airplane stalled and went into a spin. This failure was traced to ailerons and a tail fin too small for this design (plans to modify the original bomber flight surfaces had already been finalized, but had not been incorporated into the prototype). Boeing test pilot Julius Barr and von Baumhauer attempted to recover from the spin, but their struggle against the control column resulted in the wings and tail section separating from the fuselage. Also killed in the crash was Boeing Chief Engineer Earl Ferguson, a representative from TWA, and five other Boeing employees.

Roma Lee Stephens 1901-1982










R.L Stephens, Chief Test Pilot for Goodyear. He made the maiden flight of the FG-1 Corsair.

Maj Phil Neale 1930-1965



With Dassault Balzac

in cockpit of XV-5A



With the CL-757




Major Phillip E. Neale Jr was born in El Paso, Texas on the 24th January 1930. He graduated from Las Cruces New Mexico High School where he distinguished himself as a letter man in three sports and served as president of the student body. He worked his way through college and won his letter in football for 3 years, service as co-captain in his senior year. His collegiate activities merited his inclusion in the Who’s Who of American Universities. He graduated from New Mexico State University in January 1952 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering and he received his commission in the USAF through his campus ROTC.


He entered active service 7th April 1952. He received his pilot training (Primary and basic) at Stallings AFB, North Carolina and Bryan AFB, Texas, graduating as a jet qualified pilot. In succeeding months he graduated from the Day Fighter Gunnery School, Nellis AFB, Nevada, the Jet Instrument School, Moody AFB, Georgia and the All Weather Interceptor School, Perrin AFB, Texas. While assigned to Kirtland AFB he flew F-86’s for two years with the 93rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. His next assignment took him overseas to Germany where he served with the 525th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Bitburg.

He returned at the end of this tour to the Zone of Interior and was assigned 3rd January 1959 as a student in the USAF Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. While there, he continued the excellent work characteristic of his collegiate and early military career. He graduated first in flying, receiving the Ekerern Award and he was rated second in overall proficiency in his graduating class. Major Neale then served for two years as an instructor in the Pilot School before being named as chief of the newly established Aerospace Research Pilot’s training and research division. While an instructor he co-authored two handbooks which are still used as the basic text books in the Performance phase of flight testing. He became qualified in rotary wing aircraft and then instructed a special US Army test pilot course using the UH-1A helicopter. While temporarily grounded for physical reasons he was assigned the task of writing, promoting and managing an Engineering Service Project which ultimately resulted in the school receiving 18 additional century series aircraft, 17 additional officer positions, and approximately $15 million for aircraft modifications. He also co-authored a Qualitative Operational Requirement for an Advanced Aerospace Trainer. For his work at the school he received the Air Force Commendation Medal.


In September 1963 he was reinstated to flying status and assigned to the V/STOL branch of the Directorate of Flight Test Operations. He flew test programs on several models of the UH-1 and the CH3C helicopters, made evaluation flights on XV-5A and XC-142 experimental aircraft. He was considered and expert in the field of V/STOL aircraft. He was sent to the French Flight Test Centre (CEV) as the pilot member of a four man USAF Test Team to evaluate the Dassault Balzac, a nine-engined jet direct lift aircraft. He was killed on September 8, 1965 when the Dassault Balzac crashed during a test flight from Bretigny, near Paris, France.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

John Bernard Fornasero 1904-1967


John Fornasero was born March 5, 1904 at Tulare, CA. He attended the National Automotive Engineering School, Los Angeles, CA from 1922-23, and the Ryan School of Aeronautics from 1928-29. He was Chief Pilot and Instructor at the Ryan School of Aeronautics from 1929 to 1937, having also served as aircraft mechanic from 1929-30. He took on the role of engineering flight testing for Ryan from 1934-37. From 1937 to 1943, Fornasero worked for the Department of Commerce as Aeronautical Instructor and Flight Engineering Instructor. He was responsible for examination of airmen and aircraft for certification, and for examination and flight testing of aircraft, components and accessories for Type Certification. From 1941-43 he was Chief, Flight Test and Factory Inspection Branch, CAA Region 1, La Guardia Field, NY. From May 1943 to March 1944 he worked for Fairchild Aircraft, Burlington, NC where he was Director of Flight Test and Delivery. He was responsible for testing military aircraft and preparation of these aircraft for delivery to the Armed Services. In March 1944 he went to work for Boeing Aircraft Co., Seattle, WA as a Project Test Pilot on the B-17G. He became Chief Test Pilot and performed engineering flight testing of Boeing’s aircraft, including the B-47 and B-52. He was with Boeing until 1955.

Curtiss Test Pilots


Curtiss-Wright P-40B/C Warhawk/Tomahawk/Kittyhawk Production in Buffalo, Kenmore Avenue Plant, winter 1941 Curtiss test pilots, from left to right: Robert Fausel, William Webster, H. Lloyd Child (writing on a clipboard), Herb Fisher (on wing), Ed Elliott, and Barton T. 'Red' Hulse. At the time this photo was taken, Child was the chief test pilot. Herb Fisher's work for Curtiss during World War II was so remarkable that he was the only civilian pilot to be awarded the USAAF’s Air Medal. Behind the group is one of the first Curtiss P-40B fighters to be delivered to the Air Corps.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Raymond A.Popson 1922-1953

Raymond A.Popson was the youngest Air Force pilot, commissioned at 19. He was the first squadron commander at Iwo Jima and was a World War ll Helicopter test pilot at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, working with Werner von Braun and other German scientists. He became and Experimental test pilot at Edwards AFB,testing several aircraft including the Bell X-5. Early on in the flight test program, the X-5 had acquired a reputation for being somewhat difficult to fly and, in fact, was considered "absolutely vicious" when in a stalled condition. The X-5 program suffered its blackest day on 14 October 1953, when Air Force Major Raymond Popson, while performing stall tests in #1839, entered a spin from which he was unable to recover. Popson tried unsuccessfully to eject and died instantly when the X-5 hit the desert floor.

Paul Balfour 1908-1951

Paul Balfour North American Aviation test pilot.

Maiden flights of the NA-40, NA-40B,B-25D.

He was killed in the crash of a modified CB-25J on the 10th November 1951.

Robert 'Bob' G.Chilton 1912-1987

The XP-51D made its first flight at Inglewood on Nov 17, 1943 with test pilot Bob Chilton at the controls. The initial NA-146 prototype, designated the "XAJ-1 Savage", performed its initial flight on 3 July 1948, with test pilot Bob Chilton

Edward W 'Ed' Virgin 1906-2002



Edward Warren Virgin, Test Pilot North American Aviation.

Edward Warren Virgin was born in Montgomery, Ala., and graduated from Auburn University.During the 1930s, he was an Army Air Corps test pilot. From 1941 until 1950, he had been chief of engineering flight tests and the chief engineering test pilot for North American in California.This included directing the efforts of test pilots in the development of World War II aircraft, including the B-25, P-51, and Navy fighter aircraft. He made the initial flights of the B-25C Mitchell, XB-28, XB-28A and the B-25G Mitchell.

He came to the Washington area from California in 1950 for North American Aviation as eastern representative for North American Aviation. He joined Bell Aerospace Corp. and served in Washington as vice president. He retired rom Bell Aerospace in 1970 after seven years as the company's lobbying and public affairs officer in the national capital.
In retirement, he was the chief vintner in a small wine-producing operation, Virgin Vineyards, at Royal Oak on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
In 1996, Mr. Virgin was named a fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
 

Russell William Thaw 1910-1984







Russell William Thaw



The first prototype XF3D-1 made its initial flight on 23 March 1948, with test pilot Russell Thaw


Russell Thaw was born in Berlin, Germany on 25 October 1910.

He participated in two of the cross-country Bendix trophy races, which were instituted in 1931 and held annually to promote and encourage the achievements of U.S. aviation. Flying the Gee Bee "Model R-2" - P&W Wasp, he withdrew from the 1933 race. Flying the Northrop Gamma - Wright Cyclone, he came in third in the 1935 race from Los Angeles to Cleveland, ahead of Amelia Earhart in 5th place.

On December 10, 1935 he crashed in Atlanta, Georgia while on his way to rescue Lincoln Ellsworth after leaving from Caldwell, New Jersey. During World War II, Russ Thaw became one of the most noted American pilots, obtaining five air victories, three of them as part of the 103rd Squadron. He also served as a private pilot to the Guggenheim family.

He became a test pilot for Douglas Aircraft and participated in several programs.The first XB-43 took off on its maiden flight on May 17, 1946 , with test pilots Bob Brush and Russell Thaw. He flew the first prototype XF3D-1 Skyknight on its initial flight on 23 March 1948. He took over the test flying program for the XF4D-1 Skyray when test pilot Larry Peyton gave up the program to return to bigger aircraft.

Benjamin 'Ben' O. Howard 1904-1970



At 17 Howard's interest in flying was sparked when he saw a band of gypsy fliers performing in their flying circus. By 18 he had saved up enough cash to buy an OX-5 powered Standard biplane. In those days learning how to fly was often self taught and Howard thought he was up to it. The Standard was a safe plane and he seemed to be learning fine when while flying was unable to pull out of a spin, crashed breaking his leg and writing off the plane, as well.

Howard moved to Dallas and started working in the Curtiss Aircraft factory. The pay was not as good as what others jobs paid but what he learned about design and construction of aircraft was worth more than money. Over the next few years he tinkered with aircraft design using spare parts to build his first plane, later called the DGA.His second attempt at aircraft design was at the request of a Houston bootlegger, who dubbed the resulting "rum-runner" a "Darned Good Airplane," giving it and future Howard aircraft their trademarked initials of DGA.


In his plane Pete, Howard won five air races. As competition increased, he and his partner, Gordon Israel, built two larger, low-wing, wire-braced monoplanes, Mike and Ike. Ike was particularly quick in flying in an inverted position, and for a time held the world record for inverted speed. His sixth plane was called Mister Mulligan. It placed in competition for several pilots before it was destroyed in an accident in the 1936 New York - Los Angeles Bendix Transcontinental Race, a propellor failure costing Howard both the plane and his leg. Mister Mulligan's fame led to the DGA-8 and the DGA-9 as well as the 1937 formation of the Howard Aircraft Corportaion, which ran until 1944.
The first Douglas DC-3 aircraft were ordered by American Airlines (1935) and powered by Wright Cyclone engines. Soon after, United Air Lines ordered the DC-3, but specified Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines. Benny Howard was dispatched to Douglas to oversee the installation of the new engine. His career at Douglas continued for many years, including piloting the initial tests of the DC-4E, A-26 Invader, and DC-6 aircraft. He also served as test pilot on the Budd RB-1 Conestoga and other aircraft. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of SETP.

George Krebs 1918-1948

On the 17th March 1947 the XB 45 took to the air for the first time, piloted by George Krebs

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Walter P.Jones 1924-1953


Walter P. Jones was born on August 24, 1924, in Struthers, Ohio. He entered the Army Air Forces on December 8, 1942, and served until August 18, 1946. He earned bachelor and masters of science degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and was employed for a time by Douglas Aircraft of Santa Monica as a flight test analyst.

He became a research pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' High- Speed Flight Research Station in September 1950 until August 1952. During that time, he made five research flights in the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, seven flights in the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, fourteen flights in the Northrop X-4, and eight flights in the Bell X-5. In addition, he was copilot on the B-29 launch aircraft.

After leaving the High-Speed Flight Research Station, he joined Northrop as an engineering test pilot in August 1952 and was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base to perform flight testing on Northrop's F-89. He was killed in a crash of the YF-89D all-rocket-armed, twin-jet, all-weather interceptor on October 20, 1953.

Besides the aircraft listed above, he flew the NC-45, the P-47, F-80, F-81, F-84, the Beech Bonanza, and the Lockheed Lodestar.

Carl A. Bellinger 1913 -1986



Carl Bellinger helped develop and test the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter of World War II. He set an unofficial speed record of 621 miles per hour in the F-84B and made the first flight of the combined jet and rocket powered XF-91 Thunderceptor at Edwards Air Force Base. He earned his private pilot's license in 1930, soloing in an OX-5 Eaglerock. He flew many aircraft of that era, including Wacos, Stinsons and Traveliars. After earning a degree in industrial Administrations from Yale university, he opened and ran an airplane repair station on Long Island until joining Republic Aviation Corporation in 1939. A P-47 test pilot, he was appointed Senior Production Pilot and then was promoted to Experimental Test Pilot. Throughout these years, he tested all models of the P-47 and was project pilot for the XP-72.


In 1949, Bellinger became the Chief Experimental Test Pilot for Republic. Bellinger was one of the first pilots to use an ejection seat. He rose to manager of Republic's Edwards facility and later, its Farmingdale, Long Island facility. He logged more than 4,000 flying hours in more than 50 different aircraft, including the OX-5 Eaglerock, all models of the P-47, F-84, XP-72, XF-91, XF-12, F4F, F6F, F4U, F-80, F-51, C-47 and the Republic Seabee. He was a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Carl Bellinger was killed in a car accident in 1986.

Robert E.Drew 1924-


Robert Drew was born in southern California, and like many other draft-age Americans during the early days of World War II, decided he preferred to fly rather than spend the next few years in the infantry or at sea. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943, and earned his commission and silver wings at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. Beginning on May 13, 1943, he graduated in 13 months plus 13 days. He completed transition training and was assigned to the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific. After 13 months overseas, he returned to the United States.


Drew's assignment in the South Pacific Theater in 1945 was as a fighter pilot in P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang aircraft. He became a flight commander and squadron operations officer by the time he was discharged in 1946.Drew joined the California National Guard in 1946 as a flight commander, and during his CNG service joined the Douglas Aircraft Company as flight test engineer, in 1952.

His work on various test programs led to transitioning to production test pilot status at Douglas Aircraft on the Navy AD Skyraiders, and later to engineering flight test on the F4D Skyray at Edwards AFB.The Douglas F4D Skyray was no doubt named for its resemblance from above or below to a giant manta ray. It was designed during the Cold War as a high-altitude interceptor for defense of the U.S. fleet against possible Soviet air attack. The XF4D-1 prototype first flew on Jan. 23, 1951; only 419 were built during its service life from 1956 to 1962. It was primarily known for its fantastic climb rate, providing outstanding capability to scramble against high-flying bombers. This airplane holds the unofficial world record from brakes-off to 10,000 feet altitude, at 56 seconds. The F4D was also the first delta-wing aircraft to attain supersonic flight and it held the world speed record for both three-kilometer and 100-kilometer courses, as well as five Time-To-Climb records in the early 1950s. It was the first Navy airplane to hold world speed records since a Navy seaplane set the record in 1934. For his design and development of the record-setting Skyray, long-time chief engineer at Douglas Aircraft, Ed Heinemann, was awarded the Collier Trophy.


Bob Drew served as the project test pilot for the Skyray and, after the preliminary tests at Edwards, completed the formal structural and aerodynamic demonstration tests required at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland, in 1956. Some of his chase pilots at both NATC and Edwards were future astronauts Deke Slayton and Al Shepard, pilots Ivan Kincheloe and Mel Apt of the altitude and speed record holder X-2, and Captains Bob White and Bob Rushworth, pilots of the hypersonic X-15.


He made the maiden flight of the A-4C Skyhawk on the 21st August 1958. He continued flight test work for Douglas Aircraft until 1962, flying everything from subsonic and supersonic fighters to four-engine, commercial airliners and military cargo craft. He also flight tested and competed in Formula One Pylon Racers across the country for 40 years, between 1953 and 1993.In total, this combat, test and racing pilot accumulated nearly 10,000 hours of flight time in more than 75 aircraft types over the past 50 years.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Stuart G. Madison 1927-1967



Stu Madison (left) with John Omvig both Vought test pilots who were killed in the crash of the XC-142A

Monday, April 04, 2011

James Joseph Stegman 1920-2009



James Joseph Stegman was born Aug. 23, 1920, in Offerle, Kansas. In 1940, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a Private. As he worked up in rank to Sergeant, he also was sent to pilot school. He received his wings in 1943, and soon after that, married Elinor Allison in Golden, Colorado. A few months later, he was sent to the South Pacific for 14 months duty in World War II flying dive bombers. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty in Korea where he flew 87 missions in F9F Panthers and was awarded the Air Medal (3 stars) for gallantry-in-action and attaining the rank of Major.

After his combat tour, he was assigned to maintenance squadrons in Japan and ferried many planes to Korea. He returned to US in 1954 to El Toro, then on to Corpus Christi as an instructor in advanced training in F6F, TV-2, and F9F. He was released from active duty in 1955 as a Major and hired on with Douglas Aircraft as production and delivery pilot.


He participated in many test programs and flew most of the Douglas Aircraft : DC3, R4D, MD8O, F3D, A4D, F4D, DC-9, DC-10, A3D. In 1958, they assigned him to Palmdale Plant 42 as Chief Production Test Pilot. He was there for 21 years until the last of the A4 Skyhawks was rolled out. He retired in 1982. He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Robert E. Rostine 1925-1979




On 25 November 1968 the first A-7C made its maiden flight, piloted by Robert Rostine.