Col Russell E.Schleeh 1919-2012
Colonel Russell E. Schleeh tested nearly every bomber from America's war-winning B-17 Flying Fortress to its strategic workhorse, the B-52 Stratofortress, during his 20 years in the United States Air Force.
Schleeh learned to fly in 1940 under the Civilian Pilot Training Program while working as an apprentice aircraft mechanic. As an aviation cadet in 1941, he sought fighters, but found his niche in bombers.
A 1947 graduate of the Air Materiel Command Flight Performance School, Schleeh was the Chief of Bomber and of Fighter Flight Test at Wright Field, Ohio. He also tested in-flight refueling systems, including rigid tow, two B-29s nose to tail, probe and drogue with the B-47, B-36 and KC-97 and the flying boom with the B-47, B-52, KC-97 and KC-135.
He led the 4017th B-52 Combat Crew Training Squadron, preparing the Strategic Air Command's B-52 and KC-135 crews, and was Director of Safety, 15th Air Force, for 5 years. In the late 1940s, Schleeh took over the flight testing of the YB-49 Flying Wing at Edwards Air Force Base.
He ultimately flew over 8,000 hours in more than 30 different aircraft including the B-17, B-24, A-20, YB-49, B-45, B-47, F-86, P-51, Spitfire, XB-28, XB-19, XB-36, XP-58, XP-87 and Me109. Retiring from the Air Force in 1962, he joined Douglas Aircraft Company as Deputy Directory of Military Marketing.