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Information Sheet:
Experimental Research Test Pilots
with brief flight history

(and links for further information)

This page was updated on 08 June 2009.

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  • ALFRED LEMONT "AL" ATWELL, TEST PILOT, Early experimental Aerospace research test pilot. For more information click on this link:
    Atwell Biography


  • CHARLES C. BOCK, JR., TEST PILOT, In the 1950's Bock was a USAF test pilot assigned to test the two B-52 launch aircraft when they were modified to carry the X-15 research aircraft. Bock helped study and develop flight techniques needed to fly the launch aircraft with these modifications. Bock was chief test pilot for the B-1 bomber and made the first flight in this aircraft Dec. 23, 1974. Bock also flew the B-50 as a drop pilot for the X-2 program, including copilot with Fitz Fulton for the fateful flight that killed Mel Apt in the X-2. For more information click on this link:
    Combat & Test Pilot Page, (Scroll down to see info. on Bock)


  • STANLEY BOYD, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot. Boyd is an engineering test pilot for NASA and USAF.
    Can anyone provide more information on this test pilot?


  • BOB CARDENAS, TEST PILOT , Cardenas was the "Officer in Charge" of the Bell X-1 project, of which research pilot Chuck Yeager made his historic supersonic flight in the Bell X-1 aircraft on Oct. 14, 1947. Cardenas was the B-29 pilot, from which the X-1 was launched from, for all of Yeager's flights. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Robert L. "Bob" Cardenas


  • ROBERT A. CHAMPINE, TEST PILOT, Robert Champine worked at the the NACA's High-Speed Flight Research Station in the Mojave Desert of California and in October 1948 he flew the X-1 and later flew the first NACA research flight of the D-558-I #3 (Skystreak) on April 22, 1949, and the first NACA research flight of the D-558-II #2 (Skyrocket) on May 24, 1949, beginning the supersonic research program for these aircraft on June l, 1949. For more information click on this link:
    NASA Dryden Biographies - Pilots Biographies - Robert A. Champine


  • + SCOTT CROSSFIELD, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Crossfield worked at the High Speed Flight Research Station, Edwards, Calif., as a research pilot in June,1950. During the next five years, he flew the X-1, X-4, X-5, XF-92A, and D-558-I and -II aircraft, accumulating 87 rocket flights in the X-1 and D-558-II aircraft, plus 12 flights in the latter aircraft employing only jet power. Crossfield was killed in his private plane which crashed in Georgia 20 April 2006. For more Crossfield information click on this link:
    NASA Dryden Biographies - Pilots Biographies - Scott Crossfield


  • JOE H. ENGLE, TEST PILOT AND SPACE SHUTTLE ASTRONAUT, Engle was a test pilot in the X-15 research program at Edwards Air Force Base, California, from June 1963 until his assignment to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. He also flew on the X-15 high enough to qualify as an astronaut, where he exceeded an altitude of 50 miles. Joe also flew on the STS-2 and STS-51I Space Shuttle flights. Engle was a test pilot in the X-15 research program at Edwards Air Force Base, California, from June 1963 until his assignment to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. For more information click on this link:
    Astronaut Bio: Joe Henry Engle


  • + FRANK K. "PETE" EVEREST, JR., TEST PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental research test pilot for the X-1 aircraft and other aircraft. USAF General Everest tested the X-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; XF-92 and YB-52. He also took part in test programs for the F-100, 101, 102, 104 and 105; the B-52, 57 and 66 aircraft. On Oct. 29, 1953, he established a world speed record of 755.149 mph in a YF-100. Everest died 1 Oct. 2004. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Brigadier General Frank K. Everest Jr.


  • FITZHUGH "FITZ" FULTON, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot for the XB-60 and X-15 aircraft and other aircraft. Fulton Completed the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School in 1952 and flew the B-29 and B-50 which launched the X-1 and X-2 rocket plane. In 1966 Fulton became chief test pilot at NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility where he tested the X-15, 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, and SR-71 Blackbird prototypes. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Fitzhugh "Fitz" Fulton.


  • + JERRY GENTRY, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental research test pilot. Gentry was the "Chuck Yeager" of the 1960s. He flew the first-run fighters and the lifting bodies for NASA such as the M-2, HL-10 and X-24. Gentry died 3 March 2003. For more information click on this link:
    Gentry: Chronology.


  • + CHALMERS H. "SLICK" GOODLIN, X-1 TEST PILOT, A Navy test pilot, he later went to work for Bell Aircraft and in 1946 he was selected to be the first test pilot for the second aircraft in the Bell X-1 program. He piloted twenty-six successful flights in both of the X-1 aircraft from September 1946 until June 1947, when Bell Aircraft's contract was terminated and Goodlin was replaced as test pilot by Chuck Yeager. Goodlin died of cancer 20 Oct. 2005. For more information click on this link:
    X-1 Biographies--Chalmers H. (Slick) Goodlin


  • + HENRY C. GORDON, EARLY TEST PILOT (Deceased), On Sept. 19 1962 Gordon was selected as X-20 Dyna-Soar pilot; then trained at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California; He resigned Nov. 10, 1963 after the program had been given up and worked in different departments of the USAF. Gordon died on 24 Sept. 1996, of natural causes. For more information click on this link:
    Astronaut Biography: Henry Gordon


  • JOHN H. GRIFFITH, X-1 PILOT. Griffith flew as a Test Pilot for NACA, on the X-1, X-4, experimental test aircraft, as well as the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak, which was a high-speed jet-powered aircraft designed to investigate the aerodynamic effects of flight at transonic speeds and the much more advanced and capable D-558-2 Skyrocket aircraft. For more information click on this link:
    Griffith: Chronology


  • + HORACE HANES, X-1 PILOT (Deceased). Hanes participated in early development evaluations of many of this nation's aircraft. In addition he has flown the Bell X-IB and several British and French jets. He became Director of Flight Test at the Air Force Flight Test Center Edwards Air Force Base, CA, from 1953 thru mid 1957. On 20 August 1955, an F-100C, piloted by Colonel Horace Hanes, gained a new world speed record of 1323.06 km/hr [Mach 1.25]. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Horace A. Hanes


  • RICHARD J. HARER, X-1 PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot for the X-1 aircraft. For more information click on this link:
    Harer


  • PETER C. HOAG, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot. On 18 February 1970 Air Force test pilot Maj. Peter C. Hoag reached mach 1.86 [2072 kilometers per hour], in the HL-10, the fastest lifting body flight ever made. For more information click on this link:
    Hoag: Chronology


  • MAJOR GENERAL J. STANLEY HOLTONER, X-1 TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot for the X-1 aircraft and other aircraft. In 1952, Holtoner became the commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. This center, performs the experimental flight tests on all new Air Force aircraft. While stationed at the Test Center he flew every test aircraft that was assigned there, including the world-famous Bell X-1 Rocket airplane under full power. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Major General J. Stanley Holtoner


  • BOB HOOVER, X-1 PILOT, Early experimental test pilot for the X-1 aircraft and other aircraft. After WWII Hoover tested the first jet aircrafts, later became a test pilot on the X-1 project. Hoover was Yeager's backup pilot in the Bell X-1 program, and he flew chase in a Lockheed P-80 when Yeager first exceeded Mach 1 on Oct. 14, 1947. Later he test-flew the T-28 Trojan, FJ-2 Fury, AJ-1 Savage, F-86 Sabre, and F-100 Super Sabre. For more information click on this link:
    Bob Hoover - National Aviation Hall of Fame


  • + VIC HORTON, FLIGHT TEST ENGINEER (Deceased), Early experimental research flight test engineer for various aircraft including the YF-12. (The tests of the YF-12 aircraft was for the development of commercial and military supersonic aircraft and the space shuttle).

    Very little info. is available on Vic Horton on the internet, however his daughter, Kathleen Bennett (Horton) has graciously supplied the below information:
    Victor Horton of NASA Dryden was my father. He began work at Edwards AFB at the Thiokol rocket site then moved down onto the base when NASA first began.
    Dad was a flight test engineer. He flew launch panel for X-15, backseat in the hopped up Pontiac for the Parasev program, intimately involved in the entire lifting body program, flew RSO (Rear Seat Officer, this is the person who handles navigation, experiment packages [research] or weapons [military].), with Fitz Fulton in both the YF-12 and SR-71, he also flew as flight engineer on the 747-Shuttle flights and took the shuttle to the Paris airshow. His is the voice talking the pilot down on the NASA footage of the lifting body crash used in the opening scenes of the TV show "Six Million Dollar Man". The ban on sonic booms over national parks resulted from one of his blackbird flights that boomed me at church camp in Yosemite one summer. He once said the hairiest flight he ever had was backseat to Chuck Yeager above the treetops down the Kern River Canyon in a T-38.
    Dad's mentor was Milt Thompson. Dad himself mentored many young people at Dryden, including Bob and Marta Meyer, married RSOs for the Strategic Reconnaisance.
    Richard Hallion's book about NASA Dryden history "On the Frontier", Milt Thompson's "Flying Without Wings", and Dale Reed's "Wingless Flight" are excellent resources to read for information about the glory days at Edwards. (Edwards AFB, NASA Dryden RFC, and Muroc Dry Lake are all the same place, different names at different times.) Dad died in 1991.


  • + WILLIAM J. "PETE" KNIGHT, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental research test pilot for the X-15 aircraft and other aircraft. Besides being an X-15 test pilot, Knight test flew the F-100, F-101, F-104 and the F-5 aircraft. In addition, he was one of six pilots selected for the X-20 Dyna-Soar project; a program that would have been the forerunner of the space shuttle vehicle, In 1967, Knight received his astronaut wings for an X-15 flight that reached an altitude of 280,000 feet, a little more than 53 miles. Knight died 7 May 2004. For more information click on this link:
    Pete Knight x-15 pilot bio.


  • GEORGE LUCK, B-52 TEST PILOT, Flew the B-52 mothership for the X-1 flight. (The "Mothership" is the aircraft from which the X-1 aircraft is launched from).
    (If you can supply more info. on George Luck, it would be appreciated.)


  • GUSTAV E. "GUS" LUNDQUIST, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot for the X-1 aircraft and other aircraft. Lundquist was an early test pilot dating back to 1942, who tested the Bell XP-63 Kingcobra in 1943, later flew the XS-1 aircraft 6 times. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Gustav E. "Gus" Lundquist


  • THOMAS C. McMURTRY, TEST PILOT, McMurtry has been a research pilot at Dryden since joining NASA in 1967. McMurtry had been project pilot for the AD-1 Obliquing body dropped from the sky for the last time, which he piloted on this 36th flight. He also co-piloted the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as it transported the prototype Shuttle Enterprise on its first launch on August 12, 1977. he has also flown the U-2, the KC135 winglet, the triple-sonic YF-12C, F-8, and the F-104. He also held other positions at the NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center rising to Associate Director for Operations on July 27, 1998, and he also served as Dryden's acting Chief Engineer from February, 1999 until his retirement in June 1999 after 32 years of service. For more information click on this link:
    NASA Dryden Biographies - Pilots Biographies - Thomas C. McMurtry


  • DONALD L. MALLICK, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot for the YF-12 aircraft and other aircraft. Mallick became Chief Pilot in 1967 and was project pilot on both the YF-12 and XB-70A research programs of the late 1960s and 1970s. He later flew on the NASA Lockheed JetStar Prop-Fan, and Laminar Flow Wing programs. For more information click on this link:
    NASA Dryden Biographies - Pilots Biographies - Donald L. Mallick


  • FRANCIS GREGORY NEUBECK, TEST PILOT, Neubeck, a test pilot, was selected in 1963 as a Military Astronaut - Class-3, later selected as a MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory) pilot in 1965, when the MOL program was cancelled in 1969 he became Vice Commander, Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin AFB, Florida. For more information click on this link:
    Neubeck


  • ROBERT K. PARSONS, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot Parsons was a test pilot for the F-104A North American Eagle, which was a chase plane for the X-15 supersonic aircraft.
    (www.astronautix.com dropped its background info. on Parsons, If you can supply more info. on Parsons, it would be appreciated.)


  • + FORREST S. PETERSEN, TEST PILOT (Deceased), In 1956 he was selected to attend the Naval Test Pilot School and remained as an instructor following graduation. in August 1958 he was assigned duties as Research Pilot in the X-15 Program and served with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Flight Research Center at Edwards, California until January 1962. During that time he made five free flights in the X-15 and achieved a speed of 3,600mph (Mach 5.3) and an altitude of about 102,000 feet. Admiral Petersen was the only active duty Navy pilot to fly the X-15 (John McKay, Milton Thompson, Scott Crossfield and Neil Armstrong were former Navy pilots). Petersen died at age 68, on 8 Dec 1990. For more information click on this link:
    Wikipedia: Forrest S. Petersen


  • + BRUCE PETERSON, LIFTING BODY TEST PILOT (Deceased), Peterson was a NASA Dryden research pilot from the early 1960s until 1967. Peterson was one of the project pilots on the Rogallo paraglider research vehicle (Parasev) program, which was the use of an inflatable, flexible wing for the recovery of manned space vehicles, and over 100 research flights were made between 1962 and 1964. in 1963 he also flew the M2-F1 Lifting Body, his first of 15 flights in these wingless research vehicles. He made the first flight of the HL-10 on December 22, 1966. Peterson retired from research flying after his fourth flight in the M2-F2. He lost his sight in one eye as a result of a landing accident in the aircraft on May 10, 1967. Peterson continued at NASA Dryden as the Research Project Engineer on the Digital Fly-By-Wire program of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Peterson died at age 72, on 1 May 2006. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Bruce Peterson


  • CECIL W. POWELL, TEST PILOT, Experimental research test pilot for the lifting body aircraft (space re-entry vehicles): the X-24 and M2-F3 and other aircraft including the F-4E (slats), and the F-15. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Cecil W. Powell


  • + RUSSELL LEE ROGERS, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Rogers was an experimental test pilot at Edwards AFB when selected for the X-20/Dyna-soar program in April 1960. He left in Dec. 1963 when it was cancelled. After the X-20 program, he remained in the U.S. Air Force on active flight duty as a pilot with the rank of Lt. Colonel at the time of his death. Rogers was killed in the explosion of his F-105 fighter plane near Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Japan on 13 September 1967. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Russell Rogers


  • ROBERT W. SMITH, RECORD HOLDER/PILOT, Early pilot who set the Worlds Altitude record in 1963. Smith made this record setting flight in a NF-104 Space Pilot Trainer aircraft which was capable of takeoff/landing from conventional runways under its own power. This aerospace plane was a low cost and quick means to skim the boundaries of space. When this aircraft flies a ballistic arc, and is going “over the top” the pilot experiences over a minute of weightlessness or no gravity. For more information click on this link:
    Autobiography of Smith, Robert W.


  • DONALD M. SORLIE, TEST PILOT, Early experimental research test pilot M2-F1 & M2-F2 lifting body aircraft (space re-entry vehicles). For more information click on this link:
    Sorlie: Chronology.


  • + MILTON ORVILLE (MILT) THOMPSON, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental research test pilot, Thompson was the only civilian selected to fly the X-20. He became the first person to pilot a lifting body, the lightweight M2-F1, in August, 1963. After the cancellation of the X-20/Dynasoar, he was assigned to the X-15 program and began flying on October 29, 1963, and flew the aircraft 14 times during the following two years, reaching a maximum speed of 3712 mph [Mach 5.48] and a peak altitude of 214,100 feet on separate flight. In October 1966 he became Director of Research Projects at NASA's Dryden Research Center, Edwards AFB. He died of natural causes on 6 August 1993. For more information click on this link:
    Biography & Chronology: Milt Thompson


  • + JOSEPH A. WALKER, X-15 PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental test pilot for the X-15 aircraft. Walker was selected in 1960 for X-15 Program and had 24 flights; he died in an air-crash of a F-104 and a XB-70 on 8 June 1966. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Joseph A. Walker


  • + ALVIN "AL" WHITE, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Early experimental test pilot for the X-15 aircraft and Supersonic aircraft: XB-70 and F-107A. He worked for North American Aviation. For more information click on this link:
    White, Al: Chronology


  • ROBERT M. WHITE, TEST PILOT, Early experimental test pilot for the X-15 aircraft. On Nov. 9, 1961, he became the first man to fly a winged craft six times faster than the speed of sound when he flew his X-15 at 4,093 miles per hour. On July 17, 1962, General White flew the rocket-powered X-15 research aircraft 59.6 miles above the earth. For this feat, he won the Air Force rating of winged astronaut--the first one awarded to a pilot. For more information click on this link:
    Biography: Robert M. White


  • + JAMES WAYNE WOOD, TEST PILOT (Deceased), Wood was serving as an experimental test pilot at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB, California when selected as an astronaut for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program. Colonel Wood was slated to be the first astronaut to pilot the Dyna-Soar on its first sub-orbital mission amd was the senior test pilot on the Dyna-Soar project. After the Dyna-Soar program was cancelled in December 1963, he remained with the U.S. Air Force and served as Commander of Test Operations at Edwards Air Force Base. He retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Colonel. He died on 1 January 1990 of natural causes. For more information click on this link:
    Wood: Test Pilot/Astronaut


Additional Links that may be of interest:

Derek Horne's Combat & Test Pilots Page, Highly Recommended & Informative.
A russians webpage on America's Forgotten Astronauts.
NASA Dryden Biographies - Pilots Biographies
People of the X-15 and related programs
X - 15 Hypersonic Research at the Edge of Space
NASA Dryden Flight Research Pilots Photo Collection
NASA Web Page: Fiftieth Anniversary of X-1
X-Planes -- from X-1 to X-34
USAF X-20 "Dyna-Soar" Program
USAF X-20 "Dyna-Soar" Information


See Related Pricelists

Autographed Covers of Experimental Research Test Pilots (Part 1)
Autographed Covers of Experimental Research Test Pilots (Part 2)
Related Pricelist (unautographed covers):
Experimental Test Covers, Various Flights, Various Cachets



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