Saturday, October 01, 2005

Gen J. Stan Holtoner 1911-2010





Stanley Holtoner was born in New York City. Following his graduation from Townsend Harris Hall in 1928, he attended New York University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1932. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1932. After earning his pilot’s wings in 1934, he was assigned to the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan. After stints in Hawaii, Michigan, and Florida, he began World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 342nd Composite Group, where he operated P-38, P-39 and P-40 fighters in defense of the transatlantic aircraft ferry route. This group distinguished itself by shooting down the first German aircraft shot down by an American unit flying American equipment in the war. The date was Aug. 17, 1943. The aircraft was a Focke-Wolfe 200K, which was destroyed over Reykjavik Harbor by P-39s from this group. Quite a few reconnaissance and bomber aircraft, JU-88s, FW-200s and B&V-138s were shot down despite the extremely adverse conditions for air defense on this Arctic Island.

In January 1952, Colonel Holtoner was ordered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to command the Air Force Flight Test Center. This center, at Muroc, performs the experimental flight tests on all new Air Force aircraft and equipment. In December of that year, Colonel Holtoner was raised to the rank of brigadier general. The following year, in the summer of 1953, General Holtoner was assigned the task of establishing a new world speed record. He participated in the Thompson Trophy Race with the North American F-86D Sabrejet. This was the single-seater radar interceptor with which he had been associated since its conception in the Pentagon five or six years before. On Sept. 2, 1952, he set a new 100-kilometer world speed record of 1,110.748 kilometers per hour, approximately 690.118 miles per hour and won the Thompson Trophy.

Subsequently, during his tour at the Flight Test Center until May 1957, General Holtoner flew every test aircraft that was assigned to the center. He established a reputation for being one of the first to fly any of the machines, For instance, he flew the delta wing supersonic interceptor March 12, 1957, becoming one of the first three pilots to fly the airplane. On Oct. 11, 1955, he joined the One Thousand Mile Per Hour Club, being the ninth pilot to fly the XF-8U Crusader. He was the fifth pilot to fly the F-104A Starfighter. On May 5, 1954, he became a Delta Pilot by flying the F-102. General Holtoner demonstrated his extraordinary skill and ability in the fall of 1953, when he flew the world-famous Bell X-1 Rocket airplane under full power and at altitude, making a drop from a B-29 at 30,000 feet and a deadstick landing on the famed dry lake.