Sunday, January 07, 2007

James D. Eastham 1918-2016

James D. Eastham tested the world’s first three Mach 3+ jet aircraft: the A-12, YF-12A, and SR-71. He entered Civilian Pilot Training in 1942. Following World War II, he served in Europe for four years and was one of the original Berlin Airlift pilots. He was also a fighter pilot during the Korean War. In 1956 Eastham joined Hughes Aircraft Company as Project Engineering Test Pilot for the Falcon Missile project, flying 800 missions and firing 350 missiles, a record for any one person. He was Hughes’ B-58 Project Test pilot for the development of the ASG-18 radar system and AIM47A missile. In 1962 he joined the Lockheed California Company A-12 and YF-12A Blackbird program. On August 7, 1963, he was the first man to fly the YF-12A. Later, he moved to Edwards Air Force Base and was the second man to fly the SR-71. He flew the YF-12A through speed courses to perfect the techniques for setting the official world records in 1965. He logged 10,000 hours