Monday, March 06, 2006

Stanley P. "Stan" Butchart 1922-2007

Stanley P. "Stan" Butchart made flight test history by launching the record-breaking rocket-powered planes of the early 1950s. As pilot of the B-29 and P2B, Butchart launched the rocket-powered X-1A once, the X-1B 13 times, the X-1E 22 times, and the D-558-II 102 times. In addition, he towed the M2-F1 lightweight lifting body 14 times behind a Navy R4D.
Butchart enjoys his work. He's been heard to say, "Flying isn't any good if it isn't fun."
From 1966, until his retirement in 1976, Stan Butchart was Chief, and later Director, of Flight Operations at NASA's Flight Research Center. He supervised flight operations for the X-15 and lifting body programs.
Before becoming Chief of Flight Operations, Butchart was Chief Pilot. He joined the Center (then known as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' High-Speed Flight Research Station) as a research pilot in May 1951.
He flew a great variety of research and air-launch aircraft including the D-558-I Skystreak, D-558-II Skyrocket, B-29, X-4, X-5, KC-135, CV-880, CV-990, B-52, Boeing 747, F-100A, F-102, PA-30 Twin Comanche, F-111, R4D, B-720, and B-47. He became the Center's principal multi-engine pilot during a period when the pilot of the launch aircraft (B-29 or P2B) directed the launch operations for rocket-powered experimental aircraft. It was he who called for the chase planes before each drop, directed the positioning of fire rescue vehicles, and released the experimental aircraft.
After receiving civilian pilot training, Butchart enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He piloted the Grumman-General Motors TBM Avenger from an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during World War II along with his good friend, ensign (and future president) George Bush and the other members of the torpedo squadron of Air Group 51.
A charter member and past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Butchart received the NACA Exceptional Service Medal for his decisions and actions when the X-1A exploded while attached to the B-29 launch aircraft on August 8, 1955. He has been honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Presidential Unit Citation and the Aerospace Walk of Honor.
Stan Butchart was born March 11, 1922 in New Orleans, Louisiana and earned bachelors degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering at the University of Washington.