Thursday, May 17, 2007

Neil R. Anderson 1933-2006

Neil Anderson (left) and James McKinney at the Paris Air Show,Le Bourget 1981

Born Dec. 2, 1933, in Omaha, Neb., the son of a career Army soldier, Anderson planned to enter the priesthood. Then one day in college he met a Navy pilot."That was the end of priesthood and Creighton University, I said, 'I'm flying.'"He entered the Marine Corps as a pilot, flying active duty for five years until 1958. During that period he flew the Douglas AD-5 Sky raiders and Grumman F9F-6P and -8P.
He later went from active duty to the reserves (eventually retiring in 1974 as a lieutenant colonel) and into the mainstream aviation market working for Convair, designing Atlas missile silos, at the Chrysler Corporation's Space Division as a rocket design engineer on the Saturn 1B, at NASA training astronauts. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1961 from St. Louis University.
In 1967, Anderson joined General Dynamics - now Lockheed Martin - which sent him to the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.He flew versions of the F-111 Aardvark for several years, but he clearly made his name with how he flew the F-16 in air shows.Mr. Anderson was no hot dog but a pilot deeply committed to safety, one who lived the cliché that there are old test pilots and bold test pilots but there are no old, bold test pilots. He belonged to the Society of Experimental Test Pilots for 36 years and was active in the group, promoting air safety and contributing to aeronautical advancement. He had a legendary name even with Soviet test pilots. Neil R. Anderson accumulated over 15,000 flight hours in over 200 types of aircraft, some of them still very much experimental.