Alvin S. "Al" White 1918-2006
North American Test Pilot Alvin S. White with ejection seat
NA XB-70 Valkyrie on taxi - signed by Al White and Joe Cotton
North American XB-70 Valkyrie on take off
A veteran engineering test pilot, Al White has been awarded the nation’s highest achievement awards in flying.
Early in his career, White was a combat fighter pilot in World War II. Later, he served as Assistant project Engineer at the Parachute Research Unit at Wright Patterson AFB. He worked on projects which included the development of drag chutes for the XB-51 and B-47. He was then assigned to the Experimental Parachute Group at El Centro as Chief of Test Operations. He worked on the development of guide surface personnel parachutes, drogue stabilization, and entire systems for aerial delivery of heavy equipment.
Assigned to the Air Force Flight Training Center in 1952, he worked on the F-86D and the E-4 Fire Control System, and the F-84F and J-65 engine development. He was Project Pilot on the F-89D and E-6 Fire Control System development. He served his last year at the Flight Test Center as the Assistant Chief of Flight Operations.
White joined North American Aviation in 1954 as an engineering test pilot. In 1961, he was appointed Chief Test Pilot. He flew the first flights of the prototype F-100C and F-100F aircraft. He conducted the Mach 2 store drop demonstration and the zoom climb program in the F-107. He was Assistant project Pilot of the X-15 Research Aircraft, and Chief Project Pilot of the XB-70 Weapons Systems. White flew the first flights of both XB-70 aircraft, flew the first 2000 mph flight and all subsequent Mach 3 exploration flights.
He has been honored by the Distinguished Flying Cross, 10 Air Medals, Iven C. Kincheloe Award, Octave Chanute Award, Harmon International Trophy, American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, the Burroughs Flight Safety Award and the Aerospace Walk of Honor (1994).