Wednesday, March 04, 2020

James B. Reichert 1925-1995

James Barnum Reichert was a senior research specialist for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, he passed away 23rd May 1995. 
Jim worked for the Lockheed Skunk Works from 1977 to 1995 and made major material technology advancements for several aircraft programs, including the F-117A Stealth Fighter.
He was a World War II veteran, helicopter test pilot, aviation and sailing enthusiast, and multiple patent holder/inventor.He was the test pilot for the Doak 16.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Vergil C.Givens 1925-2019

After graduating from Union High School at age 16, he attended West Virginia Tech before entering the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1945. Vergil served as a USAF Fighter pilot in the Philippine Islands and Japan from 1945-8 before returning to the US and getting his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While there he met Janet Louise Eckert who was attending nearby Russell Sage College and they married in 1951. After a brief stint at Wright Patterson AFB, they moved to Edwards AFB in Southern California, where Vergil was an Experimental Flight Test Pilot during the "Right Stuff" era. He was the Project Control Officer and Test Director for the Lockheed F-104, in which he was the second pilot to break Mach 2. He joined Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank as a civilian test pilot before joining the Lockheed Missile & Space Company in Sunnyvale in 1960. After retiring from Lockheed Vergil continued to work in the aerospace industry.

Capt Robert Langley

Capt. Robert Langley served in the  R.A.F. from 1941-46, and was awarded a D.F.C. in 1944. Was an instructor at Upper Heyford in 1944, and was seconded to B.O.A.C on contract until 1952, when he joined Air Charter, Ltd. Chief pilot for Channel Air Bridge,he also acted as PTP for Aviation Trders Carvair conversions circa 1962-1964. Had over 10,300 hrs on 14 types.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Ejection Seat History - courtesy of Hartley Moyes

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eddie McNamara DFC QCVS

Eddie McNamara (right) with John Cochrane

Richard A. Henson 1910-2002

Richard A. Henson was born in 1910 in Hagerstown, Md., and was raised in the village of Paramount by Frank and Ora Belle Henson -- both of whom were business owners. Their influence upon their third child stayed with him throughout his lifetime. From Ora Belle, who owned a ladies hat and dress shop, he learned to appreciate fine clothing and the art and value of dressing well. From Frank, who ran a coal and ice business and applied his accounting education to bookkeeping for the dress shop, he learned to put all of his talents to good use and to work hard. From both parents, he learned deep and abiding religious beliefs and to practice these in his daily life.

By the time young Mr. Henson was 17, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in aviation. After completing advanced mechanical training at Mountain Park Institute in North Carolina, he returned to Hagerstown. Although the Kreider-Reisner plant he had planned to work at had ceased production, the factory later began selling some used aircraft at "very reasonable prices."

Although this was during the Depression, Mr. Henson convinced two friends to go in with him on a C-Z Challenger plane for $1,500. For his part, he had to obtain a loan, co-signed by his mother, to raise the $375 he needed. Immediately after the sale, he begain taking pilot lessons. After soloing in 1930, he acquired a commercial license a year later, which allowed him to fly passengers for hire.

The Kreider-Reisner plant was sold, shortly thereafter, to Fairchild Aircraft Corporation, and began manufacturing planes again. Mr. Henson, with his pilot's license and mechanical training, was hired as a test pilot for $40 per week -- a vast sum, during the Great Depression. Meanwhile, he offered occasional charter flights and sight-seeing flights, as well as managing the Hagerstown Airport's grass field, as sideline businesses.

By 1932, he purchased the Blue Ridge Flying Service and renamed it Henson Flying Service, managing hi operations from the airport while continuing test flights for Fairchild. As his flying business increased, Mr. Henson began adding planes to his stable: a used Brunner Winkle Bird biplane in 1934 and an Aeronca C-3 just a short time later. Combined with his lengthy flight hours at Fairchild, Mr. Henson quickly earned the governement's top rating of an Airline Transport Pilot.

In the following years, he established a major Civilian Pilot Training Program in response to the need for pilot training brought on by the war, and continued flight testing for Fairchild, which was also responding to the war.

In 1936, he became a member of "The Caterpillar Club," an exclusive pilot's club reserved for those who are forced to eject from an aircraft. It was a dubious "badge of honor" -- he later rued that he had not tried harder to save the plane. Throughout the following years, however, Henson accumulated great numbers of awards for his accomplishments in aviation, business, and philanthropy, and earned a stellar reputation for running a safety-oriented, well-maintained fleet of aircraft.

By 1955, Mr. Henson had begun selling Beechcraft Aircraft, in addition to piloting, being a fixed base operator, executive aircraft fleet manager and chief of flight test operations for Fairchild. At the time, Mr. Henson also operated a 230-acre cattle farm with more than 100 white-faced Herefords on a farm near Smithsburg, Md.

By 1962, Henson started the Hagerstown Communter airline, providing air service between Hagerstown, Md., and Washington, D.C., some 70 miles south. It was the first time anyone had applied the idea of "commuting" prices for repetitive travel. And even with just very basic amenities and service levels, the Hagerstown Commuter soon outsold competitors providing fancier -- and more expensive -- flights on the same route.

In time, the Hagertown Commuter joined with Allegheny Airlines to create the Allegheny Commuter operation. At this point, service to Salisbury, Md., was added, and in later years, Henson's network of cities served expanded to include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York.Through mergers, Allegheny had become the new USAir, and was associated with several smaller, commuter-type airlines which still operated under the "communal" name "Allegheny Commuter." The lack of independent status in operating his airline bothered Mr. Henson, and in 1983, he took his airline business to Piedmont Aviation.
The new alliance allowed Mr. Henson to update his aircraft with de Havilland Canada DHC-7s and DHC-8 turboprops, and expand service throughout the southeast U.S. as "Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline." On July 1, 1989, USAir bought Piedmont, and by 1993, the Henson logo was phased out. At age 80, Mr. Henson wasn't quite ready to retire, but was ready to "move on." In 1990 had established the Richard A. Henson Foundation, to facilitate his philanthropic endeavors and to create a legacy which would reach beyond his lifetime.

Mr. Henson died at age 92, on June 12, 2002

Gilbert Defer 1935-2017

Gilbert Defer had flown 70 different aircraft totaling 8500 hours of flying time 1450 on Concorde He was a fighter pilot in the French Air Force and became experimental test pilot, French Government. He then became an experimental Test Pilot, Aerospatiale – Senior Test Pilot for Aerospatiale and flight test manager.Gilbert Defer made the first flight of the ATR42 in 1984 followed in 1988 by the first flight of the ATR72

Elie Buge 1923-1967

Elie Buge was born in Corrèze on February 14, 1923, the youngest of eight children in a family of modest means. He began attending the municipal school Saint Augustin at age six, obtaining his primary school certificate at age 12.
Encouraged by this success, he was determined to continue his studies and insisted on being enrolled in the Corrèze secondary course. He was a brilliant student and received his lower secondary certificate (BEPC) in 1939. It was at this secondary school that he met his future wife. They would marry some years later, in 1946, and have two daughters. After his school years, Elie Buge decided to join the French Air Force. In the spring of 1941, he set off for Châteauroux, which was then in the Free Zone, where he stayed for several months before embarking on a series of experiences abroad. He spent time in French-speaking North Africa (Morocco and Algeria) and then in the USA in 1943, where he obtained his fighter pilot’s license.
From there, Elie Buge went to England, where he was assigned to the 145th Wing of the Royal Air Force. At the end of World War II, he transferred from his squadron based in Germany to the second fighter squadron in Dijon.
In 1946, he was sent to Indochina, in a Spitfire. He returned to France in 1947, to Mont de Marsan, where he remained until the end of his military career. He held the post of instructor at the Center for Transformations on Jet Aircraft (CTAR) and was a pilot in the Fighter section. He was one of the first French pilots to fly a jet plane (the Vampire). He took part in experimentation on the Ouragan and the Mystère II and Mystère IV, becoming the first non-commissioned officer to break the sound barrier, on board a Mystère II. He excelled in solo aerobatic demonstrations and was also the leader of a formation flying trio of Mystère IIs.
His reputation as a skilled pilot earned him a job offer from Avions Marcel Dassault, and he joined the company on the March 1, 1956. Assigned to acceptance testing in Mérignac, he drew attention when he went into a spin during a low-speed test.
He joined the Test circuit at Villaroche and Istres. During the winter of 1956-1957, he flew the Super Mystère B2 and executed an additional component of the Mystère IV spin program. In response to Swiss interest in the Mystère IVA 210, he presented an excellent flight demonstration in the Swiss valley of Meiringen.
With his aim of earning test pilot certification, Elie Buge spent a period of time training at the Flight Test Center (CEV) in Bretigny. He first obtained his acceptance pilot’s license and was awarded his test pilot’s license on November 30, 1959 during a second training course.

He was copilot to René Bigand on the prototype of the Mirage III B01 at Melun Villaroche. At Istres he took part in high-altitude flights on the Mirage III, and in the test program on engine shut-off up to the flight envelope limit.
Promoted to prototype test pilot at Avions Marcel Dassault, René Bigand transferred him to Bordeaux, where he acceptance tested the Super Mystère B2, the Etendard IV M, and the Mirage III, registering more than 1,000 flight hours on the latter.
Elie Buge received a number of distinctions during his lifetime, including the Legion of Honor, France’s Military Medal and Aeronautical Medal, and the French military award for combat in foreign operational theatres (Croix de guerre TOE). Elie Buge died in service on November 8, 1967

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

W/Cdr Moreshwar Waman Tilak 1933-

MW Tilak made the maiden flight of the HAL Ajeet

Jack Zanasso

An original photograph of the Promavia Jet Squalas F1300 prototype I-SQAL signed by the test pilot on it's maiden flight, Jack Zanasso. Designed by the Italian Stelio Frati, the Jet Squalas first flew in April 1987. The aircraft was to be built by the Belgian firm Promavia but despite many attempts over several years the project eventually floundered.

Hans Galli

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brian 'Dutch' Deas

Chris 'Duff' Guarente

The first guided launch of the AIM-9X from an F-22 Raptor was Feb. 26, 2015, by Maj. Christopher Guarente, 411th FLTS assistant director of operations and F-22 test pilot

Lt Col (Ret) William 'Bill' Gray

Bill Gray (Far right)

Randy "Laz" Gordon, Lt Col (USAF)

Decorated, multi-discipline leader with a demonstrated 16-year track record of professional excellence.
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

Rob “Skid” Rowe graduated 8th of 902 graduates from the USAF Academy in 1979 with a bachelor degree in Ops Research, Aero, and Math – he was the only triple-major of his class.  As a 2nd lieutenant, he attended Princeton University from 1979 to 1981 under a Guggenheim Fellowship, earning a Master’s degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  Assignments that followed were pilot training (distinguished graduate) and flight instructor (initial cadre) of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard AFB, Texas

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

At the end of World War II, the then Seaman-navigator Louis Setter was discharged from the Navy and went back to Georgia Tech where he earned a bachelor degree in aeronautical engineering, after which he joined the Army Air Corps.  He says one of his most memorable years was 1949, when he was discharged from the Army, sworn in to the U.S. Air Force, and assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base in Georgia.  I got my pilot’s wings and was commissioned to 2nd lieutenant, got married, and bought a new car –  all in the same day,” he said, adding, “That was a very busy day.”
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

Dave Kerzie graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1958.  Almost every day since then, has been an adventure in a career as a pilot and test pilot flying high performance multi engine and fighter jet aircraft.
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

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Herman H 'Knick' Knickerbocker 1928-2015

Knick Knickerbocker completed his Navy Test Pilot training and put his skills to work flying carrier-suitability demonstrations of the U. S. Navy’s new TA-4 aircraft. That was the beginning of his career in commercial aviation, working on the development testing and FAA certification of the highly-successful DC9 and DC10 passenger planes that are still carrying passengers well into the 21st Century.
As a result of his military service, Knick Knickerbocker was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the 100 very hazardous missions he flew during the Korean War. He became a charter member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots after he was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base as an experimental test pilot for McDonnell Douglas, flying many test flights and FAA certification flights. In 1978 he was promoted to chief test pilot of all military and commercial test programs and to Director of Flight Operations in 1982, in charge of all test flying, production flights, test flying, and flight training. In 1990, he retired, after 38 years with McDonald Douglas.
In spite of the many years he spent flying military and command aircraft, on thousands of FAA certification flights, as a test pilot for the U. S. Navy and major aircraft builders and designers, Knick emerged from all the years he spent flying experimental aircraft unscathed. His last assignment was testing the MD 80 aircraft in its certification for the FFA.  As a finale to his long and rewarding career, Knick was honored to be given the opportunity to debut the MD 80 at the Paris Air Show and to fly VIP scenic flights with some of the historical legends of American aviation and the U. S. Air Force.

James 'Jimmy' Holt Phillips

Jimmy Phillips learned to fly as a National Serviceman at 6 FTS, Turnhill in 1949 and subsequently served with 604 Sqd. and 610 Sqd. Royal Aux. Air Force flying Vampire and Meteors. He joined de Havilland at Chester in 1953 flight testing Vampires and Venoms. He moved to de Havilland's Propeller Division at Hatfield in 1955 and then transferred to the de Havilland Aircraft Co. in 1960 where he was engaged in Comet and Trident test flying.

Max Fott

Dassault test pilot Max Fott in Falcon 20F

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

W/Cdr Andrew McDowall DFM* DSO* AFC 1913-1981

Andrew McDowall was born in 1913 at Kirkinner, Wigtownshire, Scotland. McDowall was working as an engineer on Clydeside before the war.

He joined 602 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force before the war as an Aircraft hand. He later re-mustered as an Airman u/t Pilot and did some flying training before being called to full-time service on 24th August 1939.
McDowall completed his training and rejoined 602 Squadron around May 1940. During a night patrol on 24th/25th July he attacked a He111 caught in searchlights. It jettisoned two parachute mines and, although his attack had no apparent result, the enemy aircraft was later reported to have crashed in the sea.
On 18th August McDowall destroyed a Me109, on the 26th a He111, on 9th September a Me109, on the 11th a Me110, on the 15th a probable Do17, on the 30th a Ju88 destroyed and another shared, on 27th October a Ju88 destroyed and another probably destroyed, on the 29th two Me109's destroyed, on the 30th a Me109 destroyed and on 6th November a Me109 destroyed and another shared.
McDowall was awarded the DFM (gazetted 8th October 1940) and a Bar (gazetted 17th December 1940).

Commissioned in November 1940, McDowall was posted to 245 Squadron at Aldergrove on 15th April 1941 as a Flight Commander. In July he was OC 'B' Squadron at 52 OTU Debden.
On 10th April 1942 McDowall took command of 232 Squadron when it reformed at Atcham. He was posted away to a staff job at HQ 13 Group in September.

In July 1944 McDowall was given command of 616 Squadron at Manston. Flying a Meteor, he destroyed a Ju88 on the ground on 24th April 1945.
He left the squadron in May 1945 and was released from the RAF later in the year as a Wing Commander.
He went to work for Rolls Royce a s a test pilot and then to Glosters, testing Meteors being sold to foreign air forces. He died in 1981

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

John N. Dennis 1921-xxxx

L-R Ron Gellatly, John Dennis and David Masters
Fairy Gyrodyne
Fairey Aviation at WhiteWaltham test pilot signatures Gordon Slade,Peter Twiss,Roy Morris and John Dennis

John Dennis joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1938 and served with Nos. 3 and 139 Squadrons.  In 1942 he joined the Autogiro Squadron at Halton, and in 1944, after taking the No. 1 Helicopter School course at Andover, went to the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment at Beaulieu, Hants, for rotating-wing research and  development duty.

In 1945 he was posted to R.A.E., Farnborough, as a Service Pilot, and a year later became a civil pilot there. More than 750 hours of his 3,000 hours' flying  at that time in 1949 had been on rotating-wing aircraft. On June 1st 1949 .F/L. John Norman Dennis was appointed rotating-wing test-pilot to the Fairey Aviation Company's Rotorcraft Division.

With the Jet Gyrodyne, Faireys were first in the world to secure a complete and realistic transition cycle in flight, the feat having been achieved on March 1 1955 by John Dennis as test pilot.
The Jet Gyrodyne, as the Fairey Gyrodyne was redesignated, was the subject of a Ministry of Supply research contract. Its function was to continue testing the tip-jet principle and develop procedures for the convertible helicopter, as represented by the Rotodyne. While the Jet Gyrodyne retained the basic appearance and engine of the earlier model, it had a two-bladed main rotor with pressure burners at the tips in place of the conventional three-bladed rotor, and at the end of the stub wings were two Fairey variable-pitch pusher propellers. These were driven by the Leonides engine which no longer drove the main rotor; instead, two Rolls-Royce Merlin compressors pumped air under pressure to the rotor tips.
Tethered flights at White Waltham were followed by the first free flight in January 1954, but a full transition to horizontal from vertical flight was not achieved until March 1955. System proving continued and by September 1956, 190 transitions and 140 autorotative landings had been made.

Lieut Cdr (ret) Royal (Roy) Valentine Morris RN 19xx-1975

Roy Morris served in the  R.A.F. 1943-44 and then Royal Navy till 1950. He was recalled six months later and served as pilot and deck landing officer till February 1952, when he joined Fairey as a test pilot. He attended No. 12 E.T.P.S. course in 1953.

In 1959 Deck-landing trials of the Gannet AEW3 took place in the English Channel and were ompletely satisfactory. The aircraft concerned was XL 451 (the prototype was XJ 440
and production machines started at XL 449). Three pilots were involved in the trials: Roy Morris of Fairey Aviation, and Cdr.C. E. Price and Lt-Cdr. T. C. Evans from Boscombe Down. Observers were H. J. M. Lawrence of Fairey Aviation (ex-849AEW Sqn.), C. O. Clark and Lt. P. J. Oldridge