Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Edward A.Gillespie 1928-2015

 Ed Gillespie was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on July 28, 1928, a licensed pilot at age of 16, he joined the US Navy at 17 and was accepted into the Navy flight training program. As a carrier based fighter pilot during the Korean conflict he flew many combat missions in service of his country. Passing on an opportunity to join the Blue Angels, he entered Test Pilot Training school where he graduated in 1956. He remained in the Navy Reserve where he retired at the rank of Captain after 26 years of additional service. In 1956 he took a position with North American Aviation, Columbus, Ohio, where he was employed for 30 years, retiring as Chief Test Pilot for Rockwell International. With over 15,000 flight hours primarily accumulated in short, intense flights in single cockpit high performance aircraft, in over 100, jet, rocket, recip, helo and turbo prop military aircraft, his record of aviation accomplishment during his long career is matched by very few, living or dead.

Ed first soloed in September of 1944 at a small airfield near his hometown of Ann Arbor, MI. Ed was a recognized high school athlete who excelled in swimming, football and track. He was always physically active and as much he enjoyed participating in various sports, flying was his true passion. He enlisted in the US Navy’s Aviation Midshipman Program while still a 17-year-old in high school. After schooling in Engineering, at Syracuse University and Western Michigan University, he began Navy preflight training in the summer of 1948 with over 200 civilian flight hours already logged. He completed flight training without a “Down” and carrier qualified in SNJ’s and F4U Corsairs aboard the CVL’s USS Wright and USS Cabot. He was awarded his Wings of Gold, in May of 1950 and was selected to attend Jet Transitional Training (a choice assignment in those days), while still a Midshipman. The airplanes utilized were single-seat TO-1’s (Air Force P-80 Shooting Stars) as there were no two-place jet trainers at that time.
Fleet duty as carrier based F2H Banshee pilot, Ed covered several oceans and as many ships during the next three years, including 80 combat missions in Korea. As the high man in the F2H he also served as technical director and pilot for four USN training fly on to fly the Banshee. This assignment almost cost him his life during filming of an intentional inverted spin when he finally regained level flight barely above the ocean. At that time he was still so naïve that he didn’t know the contractor had not yet successfully tested inverted spins in this airplane!
After three years of squadron duty, Ed was offered the very envious choice of either joining the Blue Angles or attending the US Navy Test Pilot School (TPS). He decided it would be better for his career to know more about aerodynamics instead of joining the air-show circuit, and subsequently graduated in TPS class Eleven in early 1954. From there on Ed was test flying continuously until he was in his 70’s. Ed flew every propeller or jet attack / fighter airplane in the navy’s inventory while serving as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center. An example was the infamous F7U Cutlass. Before it entered the fleet, Ed was one of the high time USN pilots in the unusual fighter. Unlike some of the other pilots, he almost began to enjoy the airplane and he believes that it’s rugged airframe later saved his life on at least two occasions.
Following his 1956 graduation from the USN Line School in Monterey, CA, Ed left active duty Navy and began to work for North American Aviation in Columbus, OH as an experimental test pilot. He found that he still had to deploy regularly as more than half his time was spent flying contractor test flights at NATC Patuxent River, NATF Lakehurst, NAWC China Lake, Edwards AFB, or NASWF Albuquerque.
In 1964 he applied for the Astronaut Program when it first opened to civilians but was disqualified because he was few months older than the maximum age limit, which was 36 at the time. That year he also became the Chief Test Pilot at North American Aviation, unfortunately due to the tragic death of one of his best friends during a test flight. For the next 24 years Ed continuously performed almost daily experimental flying in all series of Trojans, Buckeyes, Furies, Vigilantes, Savages, Broncos, Phantoms, Voodoos, and other lesser known, but just as demanding, types. Hundreds of these flights were at or approaching the structural/aerodynamic limits estimated for the aircraft. He further completed USN helicopter training and qualified in AV-8 Harriers and the X-22, both also vertical risers.
Shortly after becoming a civilian, Ed also wanted to continue to serve his country. He missed the tradition and camaraderie of the Navy. He joined the USNR and stayed active in the Reserves for the next 26 years. He eventually commanded an A4 Skyhawk, squadron, tested Phantoms at NAS North Island, performed carrier suitable tests in maximum gross weight Vigilantes at NATF Lakehurst, and instructed at the US Navel Test Pilot School as part of his Reserve commitment. His last assignments were Annual Training as the Commanding Officer of NAS Brunswick, NAS Oceana, and NAF Loges (Azores). In 1982 he retired as a Captain with 36 total years of service in the Navy.
After also retiring from North American Rockwell in 1988, Ed thought his test flying was over…thinking who would want to hire an aging test pilot? It so happened that there were jobs where experience was appreciated and he was soon employed to establish a test program and fly the structural and flutter flight tests on a major modification of the Air Force T-37. In order to satisfy the Air Force that a senior citizen could still safely fly a jet, he completed a three-month training program in the airplane at age 62. This made him the oldest graduate of pilot training ever at Randolph AFB! After two years with the T-37 Tweet, he did test work on a French designed amphibian biplane. Most of this was done while flying from Canadian lakes and seemed to be more fun for Ed than dangerous, however, two other pilots were later killed in the airplane and the effort ended. He also flew first flights in some WW1 replica biplane fighters. This lasted for another two years and proved to Ed that the airplanes of that day were indeed structurally limited, and marginally stable.
In the middle 90’s he began a lengthy flight test program on a civilian single-engine jet the BD-10J. It looked like a small F-18 and climbed like one! It was powered by a 3,000-lbs thrust engine and the airplane weighed only 4000 lbs. Needless to say it was a real screamer and provided plenty of unwanted scares and adrenaline rushes. Most of the testing was done at the Civilian Flight Test Center at Mohave, CA. Ed did all of the first flights (five different wing/tail configurations) and demonstrated the capabilities of this airplane to the US Military at several military installations. A fatal crash of a skilled, but impatient, ex-fighter pilot almost ended the program. With increased emphasis on engineering, and a steadier paycheck promised, Ed resumed testing a modification of the airplane with another company near Lake Tahoe, NV. Unfortunately, due to a mechanical failure, the president of the company was also killed in the airplane, which ended this promising program.
Ed was elected a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots in 1977, but has never been in the right time frame or position to participate in any high visibility programs such as Space. On the contrary, he was always a work-a-day test pilot who always managed to complete the often “hairy” mundane test tasks and deliver the necessary engineering data without ever losing an airplane.
Capitan Gillespie served in the US flight test community longer, continuously, and successfully, than any other civilian or military pilot. He was very proud of the fact that he always landed every airplane that he took of in. Some were not all in one piece or they were on fire, but they all got back. Having been within microseconds of death several times during his long career, he credited his survival on a combination of good flight planning, conservative flying, moderate skill and lots of luck! Ed had 15,000 hours of flight time, most in single pilot military airplanes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jacques Rosay 1949-2015

Jacques Rosay joined Airbus as a test pilot in 1995 and two years later became the project pilot for the A380, then known as the A3XX. In 2000 he was appointed vice president chief test pilot of Airbus’ flight test division. Prior to joining Airbus, he was chief test pilot at the French flight test centre in southern France, where he became project pilot for several military aircraft and tested almost 150 different models of military and civilian aircraft. He also worked as a certification test pilot for the Joint Aviation Authorities on various aircraft including Airbus’ A320, A321, A330 and A340 while also working part-time as a pilot for Air France. Jacques Rosay performed the maiden flights of the A318, A340-500 and the A380. He has some 10,000 flight hours to his credit, including 6,000 hours of flight tests. Jacques Rosay was born in 1949 in Valréas, France.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Glen L "Snake" Reaves 1926-1984

Lockheed test pilot Glen L "Snake" Reaves (left) with Johnnie Walker

W/Cdr Anthony 'Tony' F. Martindale AFC* 19xx-1959

Aero Flight 1944 L-R, Martindale, Nelson,Brown and Weightman
Tony Martindale, chief development engineer of the Motor Car Division of Rolls-Royce Ltd died on july 14th 1959. After five pre-war years with the company he joined the R.A.F., in which he had a distinguished career, particularly as a pilot of high-speed aircraft and captured German machines. After the war he was a Rolls-Royce test pilot for five years before resuming his car-development work.

The highest accurately recorded dive speed in a piston-engined fighter was Mach 0.91 (620 mph at 27,000 ft), recorded in Spitfire Mk.XI EN 409 by Squadron Leader A.F. "Tony" Martindale during a high-speed dive test from 40,000 feet at Farnborough on April 27, 1944. The aircraft lost its propeller and reduction gear, but in an extraordinary display of airmanship, Martindale managed to glide the aircraft back to base and land safely!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Anatoly Nikolayevich Kvochur 1952-

 Anatoly Kvochur (centre) with Serge Dassault

Anatoly Nikolayevich Kvochur was born in Mazurovka village of Mogilev-Podolsk Area of Vinnitsy Region. Served in Army since 1969. In 1973 graduated from Yeisk high military aviation pilot school. Served in Air Force front-line units (till 1977). In 1978 graduated from Test-pilot school, in 1981 graduated from MAI. In 1978-1981 worked as test-pilot at Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation plant.
In 1981-1991 worked as test-pilot of A.I.Mikoyan EDB. Tested more than 80 types of aircraft. Carried out flight tests of MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-27, MiG-29, MiG-31. From 1991 he has been working as test-pilot at FRI. He is is the M.M.Gromov FRI Deputy Chief on flight testing.
Awarded with Orders of Labor Red Banner, ''For Achievements made for Fatherland'' 3rd degree Order, medals.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

S/Ldr Douglas Richard 'Dickie' Turley-George DFC 1918-1991

Dickie' Turley-George
Dickie' Turley-George (right) with Maurice Rose'Meyer
Turley-George (left) and F/O C Fenwick (in front of their Hawker Hurricane on board the SS Empire Tide

Douglas Richard Turley-George was born in Finchley, London on 8th August 1918. He joined the RAFVR in 1937 and did his weekend flying at 19 E&RFTS Gatwick. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1938 and, with his training completed, he was posted to the Test Flight at RAF Henlow.

Turley-George joined 54 Squadron at Rochford on 15th July 1940. He made a crash-landing near Dover on the 25th after combat with Me109's and wrote off Spitfire P9387.
On 12th August he made a crash-landing at Denton after again being damaged in combat with Me109's. Turley-George was admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital with shrapnel wounds to the head and eye. After leaving hospital he was grounded and sent on a 2nd Class Navigator's Course, after which he was posted to 54 OTU as a navigation instructor.
He later regained his full operational category and was posted to the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit in September 1941.
In June 1942 Turley-George was senior pilot on the Camship Empire Tide in Russian convoy PQ 17. The convoy was ordered to scatter when it was thought an attack by German warships was imminent. After the scatter order came, the ships were subjected to six days of bombing and torpedo attacks, until only eleven remained of the original forty-two.
Empire Tide was one of the survivors. It lay in a bay for two weeks, joined a small Russian convoy and finally reached Archangel on 24th July 1942.

Later in the year Turley-George went to the newly-reformed 198 Squadron at Digby as a supernumerary Flight Lieutenant. In early 1943 he was attached to 231 Squadron as an instructor. It was originally an army co-operation unit which had converted to a fighter-reconnaissance role.
In March 1943 he went on to the squadron strength as 'A' Flight Commander. Turley-George was wounded in November during a ground-attack sortie over Normandy. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 3rd October 1944).

In December 1944 he was posted to 88 Group Communications Squadron at Turnhouse as a Flight Commander. The unit later moved to Fornebu, Norway. In December 1945 Turley-George took command of the Reserve Command Communications Squadron.

He was released from the RAFO in November 1949 as a Squadron Leader and became a test pilot with Shorts Bros. He was involved with the Canberra U.10 and Canberra PR9 programmes.
Turley-George was awarded the Norwegian Medal of Liberation.

Paul Hopkins 19xx-2014

Paul Hopkins joined the RAF in 1969. He was an outstanding pilot and went on to become one of the first 1st tourist pilots to be trained onto the Harrier. His first tour was with No 1(F) Squadron (1973-75), before moving to No 3(F) Squadron and then No 233 OCU as a QWI.

 Paul was selected for test pilot training on exchange with the US Navy before returning to the UK for 3 years with A Squadron at RAF Boscombe Down. He left the RAF in 1985.
He had an outstanding career with BAE Systems where he was involved in test flying on the Harrier GR5, Hawk 100/200, Tornado GR1 & ADV, Gripen & Typhoon. He became Chief Test Pilot in 1997. In 2004 he was awarded the GAPAN Derry & Richards Memorial Medal for his contribution to test flying and finished flying in 2005, moving into project work until his retirement in 2012.

Maurice Rose'Meyer 1928-

 Maurice Patrick Rose'Meyer was born in 1928. He spent his early years in India where he travelled extensively. His father was a captain in the Indian army who later was an executive in the Indian railways. His mother was the daughter of a rubber plantation owner in Burma, now Myanmar who later owned a tea estate in Southern India. Armed with a science degree and a diploma from the College of Aeronautical Engineering in London UK, Maurice was first employed by AV Roe in 1951, in Woodford, Cheshire in the UK, as a Flight Test Observer, and took part in tests on the Shackleton Submarine Hunter, Ashton, Vulcan Bomber, Anson and the delta wing 707 research aircraft.
In 1953 he was employed in N.Ireland with Short Brothers and Harland as Senior Flight Test engineer. he took a major role in research and development tests. His first task was to participate in water handling tests on the Sealand Seaplane on which he experienced severe porpoising. He was also given the task of flight testing modifications, on a large Solent Seaplane.  Military aircraft tests were conducted on the Seamew Submarine Hunter, Sturgeon.
In 1956 he joined the Air Registration board in London England now the CAA.  There, he represented the Board during certifications tests on the Blackburn Beverly and flew in many aircraft to check and certify major modifications on a variety of aircraft, such as the DC 8, Stratocruiser, Dakota, Pioneer, Auster, and Dragon Rapide.
He also conducted pilot examinations to test their knowledge of the flight manual.
In 1958, he returned to Shorts as a Senior Flight Test Engineer and conducted tests
On several models of the Canberra including the SC 4 Drone Canberra and the PR 9 high altitude spy plane. During tests on the PR9 aircraft he took part in the development of early pressure suits, as the aircraft often flew at altitudes near outer space (67,300ft). He planned and directed research tests on the SC 1 vertical take off and landing aircraft and the SB 5 swept wing research aircraft.
In 1963 Maurice emigrated to Canada where he was employed by De Havilland and soon was promoted to Chief Flight Test Engineer. Aircraft tested, were the Beaver, Turbo Beaver, Caribou, Twin Otter and it's many variants including the float and ski plane and land and float water bombers. STOL research was conducted on a "super STOL Twin Otter.  He was both Project and Test Engineer during the development of the Tracker Water Bomber. Other development and certification tests were conducted on the Buffalo, Dash 7 and Dash 8 series of aircraft. He conducted tests on the ACLS (Air Cushion Landing and take off System), he planned and participated in the development tests of the Augmentor Wing Buffalo. ( A Super STOL Research Aircraft) and conducted development of cargo drop systems. Maurice was the test director on the first flights of the Twin Otter, Dash 7 and Dash 8 Aircraft.
  After retiring in 1991, Maurice continued testing aircraft as a consultant. He planned and conducted tests to certify narrow runway operations on the Dash 7 and Dash 8.  He also planned and conducted gravel runway certification tests on a Dash-8 and certification tests on the Turbo Caribou and high (13,500ft) airfield certification tests on a Series 200 Dash 8. Participated in a NASA contaminated runway test program.
At age 86. Maurice is now on a consultant contract with the International Test Pilots School in London Ontario, to advise on flight testing.
A grand total of 63 years flight testing, with perhaps more to come.
Maurice has authored two aviation books: "Adventure In The Air" and Project Silver Bullet".

Friday, January 09, 2015

Hans Häfliger 1924-

On April 25, 1955, test pilot Hans Häfliger made the first flight of the prototype FFA P-16 serial No J-3001. He also made the first delivery flight of the first Swiss Hunter Mk58, J-4001 on 3rd April 1958.

He was the first Swiss pilot to break the sound barrier and succesfully eject from an aircraft.

William Herbert Baxter Ellis AFC KStJ 1921-2014

Herbert Ellis was the son of a First World War flier, and first flew as a toddler sitting on his mother's knee. He had cadet air-rides while a teenager at Oundle School, Northamptonshire, then trained in medicine at Durham University, applying to join the Royal Navy while doing so.
He was posted to hospitals in Malta, then back to England at Gosport, where the future Rear-Admiral Ian Robertson  gave him four hours' unofficial tuition in a Tiger Moth before letting him go solo. He gained his wings in 1948, the same year he qualified as a doctor.

Ellis's speciality as a naval doctor with the Fleet Air Arm in the early 1950s was G-forces, a vital area of research for fliers of the new generation of jet planes, and he possessed unrivalled experience of what harsh thrusts of acceleration can do to the human frame. He had often used himself as a guinea pig, coming close to unconsciousness in airborne trials with a modified Spitfire at the RAF's institute of aviation medicine at Farnborough in Hampshire.
Ellis, driven by fascination to disregard danger, was, as Naval Medical Liaison Officer at Farnborough, doing urgent work to determine how much strain pilots' bodies could take with the new device for take-offs from Britain's five aircraft carriers: the steam catapult.
Pilots supposed the catapult's power would flatten their eyeballs, disabling them just as they got airborne. Ellis tested the probable forces by being shot by rocket in a trolley along a makeshift railway track at Farnborough. The idea sprang from track-runs at more than 600mph, with sudden stops, that were performed by Colonel John Stapp in the United States in the early 1950s to test deceleration. Stapp's eyes bled; for Ellis, the bodily punishment of speed broke his neck – for the rest of his life he endured the effects of a compression fracture. He was nevertheless able to reassure the Royal Navy that the catapult would not blind or disorientate.
Ellis worked on and tested pressure suits and helmets for use with ejector seats, endured "the bends" (nitrogen bubbles in the body) while flying in unpressurised cockpits, flew so low and fast the buffeting burst his aircraft's rivets out, and explored high-altitude physiology in the then-new Canberra jet bomber.
Naval squadrons still used propeller aircraft such as the Firefly, but Ellis introduced senior officers to Farnborough's experimental Canberra. That coup, together with his ability to fill a gap when a squadron was one pilot short, and land one of the Fireflys on the deck of HMS Theseus off Plymouth, charmed his Navy bosses into letting him stay longer at Farnborough to do more research.
Ellis studied the way pilots in fast jets used their eyes, and concluded that they were so busy that audio, rather than visual, signals were best for communicating height and speed as they came in to land. The type of bleeps he developed for naval airmen have since become universal as car-parking sensors.
His work brought him a PhD, the Gilbert Blane Medal for advances in naval medical science, and the almost unheard-of award for a non-RAF man of the Air Force Cross.
But the sun was already setting on what Ellis later described as a "carefree period in the development of British aviation". The year 1954 brought two epoch-ending crashes, from metal fatigue, of the Comet –Britain's, and the world's, first civilian jet passenger aircraft.
Ellis had also begun to notice how American research was pulling ahead of Britain's and focusing on space exploration. Finding himself sent on a US tour as part of a team assessing Cold War defence measures, he accepted an invitation to spend two years "on loan" to the US Navy. He arrived just as the Suez debacle of November 1956 sent a chill through US-UK relations, and spent his first weeks barred from most tasks beyond talking to some chimpanzees kept at the base he was sent to, Johnsville near Philadelphia.
The chimps were used for early space trials with a centrifuge, and as soon as affairs thawed he proposed some human spins on the machine, pioneering them himself. The trials would pop out his tooth-fillings and leave him with permanent balance problems.

Ellis left the Royal Navy in 1959 and had a spell in the motor industry before becoming director general from 1971-73 of the children's charity Barnardos. He was also an industrial medical consultant and served as a government health adviser for 20 years from 1972.

W/Cdr Stan Hubbard DFC AFC* 1921-2014

Stanley John Hubbard was born in York on March 25 1921 and attended Manor School in the city. He joined the RAF in October 1941, training as a pilot in the United States. After returning to Britain he joined No 78 Squadron, flying the four-engine Halifax. His arrival on the squadron in October 1944 coincided with Bomber Command’s “Final Offensive”, when oil targets and railway centres were a priority. By the end of 1944 it was possible for some of these to be attacked in daylight. During the final phase of the campaign, Hubbard and his colleagues continued to attack oil targets in addition to selected cities in support of the Allied advances on both the western and eastern fronts. Having completed 30 operations, he was rested and awarded a DFC.
After the war Hubbard flew transport aircraft in the Middle East, where he was personal pilot to the Commander-in-Chief. Then, in January 1948, he started the one-year course at the ETPS. This was followed by three years at Farnborough testing and evaluating the RAF’s fighters, including the various marks of Meteor and Vampire jets.
In August 1950 Hubbard was walking across the airfield when he heard a humming, hissing sound. He reported: “I turned round and saw a strange object approaching. It looked like an edge-on view of a sports discus.” A month later he was with five other officers when they had a similar sighting, and the MoD’s chief scientific officer, Sir Henry Tizard, established a Flying Saucer Working Party to investigate.
Despite the calibre of the RAF witnesses, the working party summarily dismissed Hubbard’s sighting as an “optical illusion”. It also concluded that the five additional witnesses “saw some quite normal aircraft at extreme range and were led by the previous report to believe it to be something abnormal”. The report was classified as secret and did not come to light until 2001. When advised of the working party’s conclusion, Hubbard responded: “Absolute rubbish. My engineering experience convinced me it was not of this earth.”
Hubbard’s next appointment, in 1952, was flying Meteor day fighters with No 92 Squadron, based in Yorkshire, initially as the flight commander and then as squadron commander. He then progressed to the Day Fighter Development Squadron at West Raynham, where he and his fellow pilots developed tactics and assessed the new generation of fighters, including the Hunter and the Swift.
After his tour at Aero Flight, Hubbard attended the Indian Air Force Staff College before spending two years on an exchange appointment with the USAF. He served as Deputy Director of Fighter Operations at HQ Tactical Air Command, where his two years culminated in planning operations during the Cuban missile crisis.
In November 1962 he returned to ETPS as the chief test pilot instructor, an appointment that gave him the opportunity to fly many different British, American and European aircraft. In 1965 he decided to take early retirement. He was awarded an AFC in 1948 and a Bar in 1952.
In September 1965 he and his family left for California, where he worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft as director of special projects. In 1973 he moved to Virginia, where he established his own defence technology company .

Monday, June 23, 2014

Al McDicken

Al McDicken was born in Glasgow and joined the RAF in December 1965.In the mid 1960's, early officer training was carried out at South Cerney and it was here that he first flew the venerable Chipmunk.In 1966 he was posted to No. 6 Flying Training School at RAF Acklington.The aircraft flown were Jet Provosts Mks 3 and 4 and by this time he had married, much to the irritation of the training staff!
More interested in developing a social life, he and Ann, his new wife, decided that Cambridge would be more convivial than RAF Valley, so it was to RAF Oakington.

At that stage Al realised it was time that he woke up and did some studying.Until then all exams passes had relied more on the power of prayer than hard graft!On completion he was posted to IX(B) Squadron at Cottesmore, a happy coincidence as the Squadron was headed to Cyprus in early 1969!
In 1970, a Captaincy was offered with 50 Squadron at RAF Waddington and promotion to Flight Lieutenant came with the job.Two children were born and life was very happy; until a ground tour was threatened.
Alarmed at the prospect, swift research revealed that application to the Empire Test Pilot School might just confound things sufficiently that some other poor chap might get the ground tour!It was then that Al became crewed with Andy (Sponge) Marston as the Wing Operations Crew, a happy, carefree few months ensued as the duo waxed lyrical in various bars around the world!

The ploy worked and Al was posted to Maintenance Command in 1974.It was hard work but a challenge and privilege to be there.From having flown only about four types of aircraft, ETPS offered a great opportunity to fly all sorts of machines, including helicopters.At the end of the course a posting to B Squadron, Boscombe Down ensued and Al remained here until 1980, as a test pilot and then as Senior Pilot, gaining promotion to Squadron Leader in 1976.A ground tour finally caught up with him but then British Aerospace offered employment as a test pilot engaged on military and civil projects. 

After brief forays into management, but missing flying he went back to flight testing in 1989; becoming Chief Test Pilot in 1993.Al has around 10000 flying hours on some ninety types of aircraft, being a display pilot for over thirty years.The zenith of this last activity being with the Shuttleworth Collection.
Al was involved in the return to flight of Vulcan B2 XH558, which after being in store or under under restoration since 1992,  returned to the air on 18 October 2007 flown by Al and Dave Thomas.

He is now self employed as a freelance test and delivery pilot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lt Col B C Thomas

B. C. Thomas - High Time SR-71 Pilot with 1,217 hrs and 18 min

BC Thomas attended U.S. Air Force pilot training. He began his Air Force career flying the KC-135 tanker over Europe, Vietnam, and Thailand, and then flew the C-130 in Vietnam. Returning stateside, Thomas transitioned to the B-57 and RB-57F, and subsequently attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif., where he flew the F-104, A-7, T-33, and T-38. From there he joined the U-2 test program, and in 1976 was assigned to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., to fly the SR-71. In 1984, Thomas was again assigned to Edwards to serve as an operational test pilot on the SR-71. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1988, and has the most time in the SR-71 (1,217.3 hours), and is the only pilot to have flown all three of the Air Force's high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft (the U-2, RB-57F, and the SR-71). 
Upon retirement he joined Northrop's B-2 test program as a civilian flight test engineer/pilot, where he served until joining United Air Lines at the end of 1989. He served as a test pilot for the airline flying its Boeing 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777, as well as the Douglas DC-8 and DC-10.

Lt Col Raymond 'Ed' Edward Yeilding

Raymond Edward Yeilding, known as Ed to all of his many friends, was born in Auburn, Alabama in 1949 where his father, William, was an engineering student after being discharged from the Navy after World War II. His mother, Carolyn, had studied to become a nurse during the war, and was working in Auburn at the time. Ed’s ancestors lived in the Blountsville area during the 1800s. Ed showed an early interest in aviation, but also, by age 7 months, he was showing evidence that he would like to be in control. After graduation from Auburn, his father Bill joined TVA as an Engineer, where he remained for 35 years. Ed was an active youth, and became an Eagle Scout in 1963. He graduated from Coffee High School in 1967, and then entered Auburn as an Electrical Engineering student.He became interested in aviation in a serious way while a student at Auburn, and learned to fly and received his pilot’s license in a Cessna 152 in 1971, and did his first parachute jump the same year. He did not neglect his studies, however, and graduated in 1972, shown here with his mother, Carolyn, and another great Auburn engineer, his father, Bill. The United States Air Force had been on Ed’s mind for some time, and he had even dreamed of the possibility of someday being able to fly the SR-71 Blackbird. After graduation from Auburn, he joined the Air Force, and reported initially to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, but had his flight training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. Already being a pilot, he perhaps had a head start. His first training plane at Williams was the T-37, but he soon moved up to the T-38. He received his commission as a second lieutenant on July 8, 1972. He received his Pilot’s Wings December 18, 1973.Stationed next at Bergstrom AFB flying the RF-4 Phantom, he became an Instructor. He was transferred to Okinawa, where he maintained combat readiness in high speed, low altitude reconnaissance. Returning to the United States, he was stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, from 1980 until 1983, where he was an F-4E Phantom Instructor in air-to-ground, and air-to-air weapons delivery. From July of 1983 to November 1987, he served as an Instructor and Evaluator for the SR-71 Blackbird at Beale Air Force Base, California, flying for the United States Air Force. During that time, he flew 93 reconnaissance missions in the Blackbird at Mach 3, over 2000 miles per hour, at altitudes of 80,000 feet, on the edge of space. From 1987 until 1990, he was based at Palmdale, California as SR-71 Operations Officer, Instructor and Evaluator. On March 6, 1990, Lt.Colonel Ed Yeilding set the coast to coast speed record for aircraft, flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C in 67 minutes and 54 seconds. On the same flight, he established three city to city speed records. His top speed was 2,190 MPH. And guess who was at Dulles to meet him when he landed - Bill and Carolyn Yeilding, Ed’s mother and father, as well as the national news media and government and military dignitaries.  This flight effectively closed down the SR-71 Blackbird program, and the record-breaking aircraft was turned over to the Smithsonian Udvar Hazy Museum at Dulles, where it can be seen today.Ed spent the next six years with the 89 Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, flying dignitaries such as the Vice President, the First Lady, senators, generals cabinet members and other VIPs to many world destinations.He retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Col. In 1996.

Lt. Col. Tony Bevacqua 1932-

Lt. Col. Tony Bevacqua, son of a Sicilian immigrant, was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 7 Oct 1932. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the USAF on 29 February 1952. He began Aviation Cadet Pilot Training Program in January 1953, graduating 14 April 1954, rated and commissioned the same day. First assignment following fighter gunnery training was 508th Strategic Fighter Wing, Turner AFB, GA, flying the F-84 G and F. The 508th was deactivated in 1956 and became the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, with RB-57D and U-2 aircraft.Tony checked out in the U-2 at Groom Lake (Area 51), March 1957. The 4080th was moved to Laughlin AFB, TX in 1957, and moved again in 1963 to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. Tony reported to Air Command and Staff College, AL, leaving the U-2 program in the summer of 1965 after accumulating 2002 flight hours.  Following ACSC, assigned to Beale AFB, CA to fly the SR-71. Retired at Beale AFB, 31 March 1973 with 738 hours in the SR-71.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fred J. Cuthill 1929-2013

Fred Cuthill was born on 2 July 1929 and passed away on 3 October 2013.

He was a 1960 graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School and held a B.S. Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Washington State University and a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University. Prior to attending test pilot school, Fred flew F-86 and F-100 aircraft in fighter squadrons in the U.S. and Europe. After Test Pilot School, he flew various test programs on the F-101, F102 and F-106 aircraft.

After Command and Staff College he reported to Edwards AFB and served as test pilot in Special Projects (U-2’s) and later spent 2 years as Chief of Fighter Test at Edwards. During this period he flew test programs on the F-4, A-7 and various foreign classified programs. After one year’s combat in F-4’s in SEA, which included being Commander of the 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, he returned to Edwards AFB as F-15 Project Director and was later appointed the F-15 Joint Test Force Director. Fred distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as chief performance test pilot for a highly classified project at the time, flying the MiG-21 jet fighter. The data contributed immeasurably to the understanding of a foreign weapon system; intelligence from a Soviet fighter that Israel and the United States would face in battle in the coming years. Fred then moved on to duties as Staff Assistant to the Director, Test and Evaluation Office of the Secretary of Defense. He later served as Deputy Commander of an Air Force Fighter Wing.

Col. Joseph “Joe” Aloysius Guthrie, Jr., USAF 1926-2013

Joe Guthrie was born March 24, 1926 in Pittsburgh, PA to Joseph Aloysius Guthrie and Margaret Hommel Guthrie. In 1940 his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he attended Elder High School.  He was an honor student all four years and earned letters in football, basketball and track.  After graduation in 1944, he received an appointment to West Point.  The appointment was for the 1945 class.  In the meantime he accepted a football scholarship to Indiana University. (While at West Point he played football on the Plebe and “B” squad teams with daily scrimmages against the great Blanchard-Davis teams of that era.)
Joe graduated from West Point in 1949 and was commissioned in the Infantry which was not his Service of choice. He wanted to be in the newly (1947) formed Air Force.  A week after graduation Joe wrote a request for transfer and walked it through the Pentagon. The request was turned down. Joe’s classmate Doug Bush also suffered the same fate.  Bush, who was a veteran of WWII and knew how to get things done, talked his way in to General Omar Bradley’s quarters one evening and convinced the General to transfer him, Joe and four others to the Air Force. 

Thus began Joe’s 28 year career in the Air Force. He flew as a Forward Air Controller during the Korean War and piloted classified reconnaissance missions during the Cold War. During the Vietnam War he was assigned to Udorn Air Base in Thailand as squadron commander of the 602nd Fighter Squadron flying A-1Es for close air support, forward air control and escort for Jolly Green rescue helicopters.  Following his tour in Vietnam he was assigned as Chief of Test for the C5A Transport Aircraft.  From 1972-1975 Joe was Commandant of the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base.  Then he was assigned as the Air Force Flight Test Center’s Deputy Commander for Operations (Test Wing Commander) until his retirement in 1977.
He continued his career as a test pilot and director of flight operations for the next fourteen years, first for American Jet Industries (now Gulfstream American) and Tracor Flight Systems.
In 1991 he moved to Montana. He continued to work part time for Flight Systems in the 90’s and flew light planes locally. He enjoyed taking his neighbors flying and especially giving young folks their first ride in a light plane.
Joe was a Fellow and past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, a member of the Montana Pilots Association, the Helena Hangar of Quiet Birdmen and other military and aviation organizations.