John A. Manke 1931 -
John Manke was a NASA Research Pilot for more than 11 years and has flown over 4,500 hours. His career was highlighted by NASA research flights to test lifting body aircraft, preparing the way for the Space Shuttle and follow-on space programs.
He piloted the first unpowered lifting body approach to a precision landing on a concrete runway in 1975, providing data needed by the Space Shuttle Program to prepare for unpowered landings from orbital flight.
As a principal NASA lifting body pilot, his first flights included the first sustained rocket-powered flight of a lifting body vehicle, the first supersonic flight of this type of vehicle and the first flight of delta shaped X-24B. He flew all four rocket-powered lifting bodies: the HL-10, X-24A, X-24B, and M2-F3.
As Director of Flight Operations at NASA Dryden, Manke had operational responsibility for the flight test program of the mated Shuttle/Boeing 747. He flew exploratory flight tests in the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire aircraft to develop control system design changes for the Shuttle Orbiter.
Manke participated in high-technology programs including the X-15, Lifting Bodies, Space Shuttle, AFTI/F-16, AFTI/F-111, B-2 Stealth Bomber and X-29.
Manke has been honored with the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service, was nominated by NASA in 1984 for the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive and was named to the Aerospace Walk of Honor in 1997.