Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Chris 'Duff' Guarente
Randy "Laz" Gordon, Lt Col (USAF)
Commands a developmental flight test force consisting of 330+ contractor, civilian, and military personnel responsible for modernization of the F-22A Raptor. Manages a $37 Million annual operating budget and oversees $1.6+ Billion in national security assets. Led future capabilities, innovation, and experimentation for the US Pacific Command. Managed multi-billion dollar portfolio of advanced technology programs. Developed state of the art aerospace technologies as an experimental test pilot with experience in the F-22A, F-15C/E, A-10A/C, Bombardier BD-700 Global Express business jet, as well as 70 other military and civilian aircraft. Holds a Strategy PhD and Masters(summa cum laude) from the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, graduate aeronautical engineering degree, mathematics, and systems engineering studies (magna cum laude) from the Air Force Institute of Technology and United States Air Force Academy. Competitively selected as a DARPA US Air Force Service Chief Fellow, 2 time White House Fellowship finalist, US Air Force Thunderbirds Commander finalist, and 2 time NASA Astronaut finalist.
Robert A. Rowe, Col. (Ret.), USAF
Rowe flew the U-2 aircraft on world-wide reconnaissance missions between 1986 and 1989. In May of 1988, after hydraulic loss and other landing gear and aircraft complications, he successfully crash-landed a “dead-stick” U-2, with a flamed-out engine and main gear up, on Beale AFB’s runway.
Rob Rowe is a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School’s ‘89B class, and was assigned as an Operations officer of the Edwards AFB Bomber Test Squadron after his graduation, working the B-1 and B-52 programs from 1990 until 1992. The programs he oversaw were the B-1 conventional weapons integration, Advanced Cruise Missile, and the Tri-Service Stand-off Attack Missile (TSSAM). Rob was at the controls during the first successful launch of a TSSAM off a B-52.
After retiring from the USAF in 1993, Rowe worked briefly as an FTE on the C-17, then as a test pilot on the U-2 until he became the U-2 Chief Test Pilot with Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in 1997. In September of 1994, Rob piloted the first flight of the U-2 “S” model (new engine and autopilot), and in December of 1998 he flew the first U-2 PEMI jet (power and electrical upgrades).
Overall, Rowe has over 31 years of pilot experience on AF/DARPA projects and 20+ years on Lockheed Martin projects, including being the first flight pilot of the X-55A/Advanced Cargo Composite Aircraft’s flight on June 6th, 2009. He has logged a total of 9300 flight hours, 5300 of them on the U-2 aircraft.
Rob Rowe retired from the USAF Reserves in 2006 as a Colonel.
Louis C. Setter, Col. (Ret.), USAF
During the next two decades Louis Setter became a pioneering Air Force combat aviator.
In 1952, he flew an F-84G across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, in a first ever jet fighter crossing of the Pacific. By 1954 Setter was operations officer for the F-84F Fighter Squadron and heavily involved with flight testing the supersonic version of the fighters. He was involved in developing and testing celestial navigation techniques and cruise control computers, all of which had never been done in a fighter jet before and were required as part of SAC’s concept for using the F-84G for the delivery of atomic weapons, later becoming standard for U-2 and other aircraft.
It was at this time he was called to the legendary U-2 program, a highly classified strategic reconnaissance program headed by the CIA. In October of 1955 Setter became the fourth Air Force pilot to fly the aircraft, and participated as an instructor pilot training three detachments of CIA pilots, including Gary Powers. While flight testing the U-2, Setter credits the early model partial pressure suit for saving his life three times while soaring to altitudes of nearly 70,000 feet, during airstart testing and three engine flameouts. Of the four instructor pilots on the early U-2 program, Colonel Setter is the only living instructor left. He was awarded the CIA Bronze Medallion for instructing civilian pilots and for the engineering contributions he made later in the program.
In 1959, when the U-2 flight test organization moved to Edwards North Base, Setter became the North Base Commander and U-2 Ops officer. After that he had assignments as the AFFTC pilot, FTE, and Flight Test Manager at EAFB (1960-64); SPO Director of Flight Test & Training at Wright-Patterson on XC-142, X-19, & X-22 programs (1965); Base Commander of Antigua Air Station (1965-67); combat pilot, IP, and FE in Viet Nam (1967-69); Chief of Engineering of Oklahoma City air Logistics Depot (1969-1973); Deputy for Systems at Wright-Patterson AFB (1973-76).
Louis Setter retired from the USAF as a Colonel in 1976, after 30+ years of service. In his civilian life he was asked to come out of retirement several times, and held numerous positions as a Site Manager and Director in United States and abroad. He just recently retired for the third time in March of 2015, which Louis does NOT promise is his last retirement. Louis Setter was honored as an Eagle in 2005 and again in 2015, on the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the U-2 aircraft.
David Kerzie, Lt. Col. (Ret.), USAF
Kerzie graduated from USAF Pilot Training in 1960 and the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School (Test Pilot/Space Pilot School) in 1968. His 20 year Air Force career included operational tours in both multi-engine and fighter aircraft, as well as eleven years of experience flying within the USAF test and evaluation community. He also completed a 186 mission combat tour in Southeast Asia flying the F-4 Phantom as a 480TFS Flight Commander.
Employed by the Lockheed Company in 1979, Kerzie was initially assigned as a test pilot on the high technology L-1011 commercial transport program. He transferred to Skunk Works in May of 1983 as a U-2 test pilot, and remained on the U-2 program for 14 years, retiring as Lockheed’s U-2 Chief Test Pilot in 1997.
Dave Kerzie was the 1986 recipient of the Iven C. Kinchloe Award as the industry’s Test Pilot of the Year for his work in performing extremely high-altitude flutter investigations. Among his other contributions to the U-2 program, of note were numerous test flights for the successful integration of the GE-118 engine and the digital autopilot development. Kerzie was also honored as a recipient of the USAF Test Pilot School Distinguished Alumni Award and was elected by his peers as a Fellow and President of the prestigious Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Kerzie has logged 12,000 hours of pilot time, with almost 4000 hours in the U-2, and the remainder in more than fifty different aircraft types and sailplanes. He built an RV-6 experimental aircraft in his garage and has been flying it around the country since 1998