Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Robert O. Rahn 1920-1998

Cover flown on 1st flight of A4D Skyhawk,signed by 1st flight pilot,Bob Rahn

Born in Harvey, Illinois, on December 29, 1920, Bob attended the University of Cincinnati, intending to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. While there, he learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and, in early 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and entered flight training. After graduating, he became a member of the first United States fighter group to deploy to England, where he flew the Spitfire with the 309 Fighter Squadron.

After completing his overseas tour, Rahn returned to the U.S. and wrangled an assignment to Wright Field to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilots School. With World War II all but over, in August 1945 Bob accepted employment as a test pilot at Douglas Aircraft Company, where he subsequently made first flights in 18 different aircraft between 1946 and 1956. Around the Douglas Aircraft Company flight test department, Bob had the reputation as being "a cool and thorough pilot." There were several instances in the flight test programs of the AD Skyraider, the F4D Skyray, and the A4D Skyhawk where his unflappable demeanor during test flight emergencies literally saved the programs. Bob also participated in the F3D Skyknight and F5D Skylancer flight test programs.

In 1957 he joined the Rockwell Company as an Apollo Space Capsule simulator research pilot. Rahn retired from the aircraft industry in 1984 to devote much of his time to skiing and flying his Navion aircraft in speed enhancement and point to point flight competition with other Navion owners.

Rahn accumulated many honors in his flying career. He was inducted into the Navy Test Pilots Hall of Honor, set a world speed record in the Douglas F4D Skyray, served as a founding member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, was a charter member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, and an original member of the Skyhawk Association.