Thursday, May 17, 2007

Richard L. "Dick" Johnson 1917-2002

Richard Johnson flew 4,500 hours piloting more than 35 aircraft before leaving the Air Force in 1953 for civilian flight testing of the F-102. He was chief engineering test pilot for the F-102 and F-106 supersonic interceptor programs. After graduating from the Air Materiel Command Engineering Test Pilot School in 1946, he established the 1948 world speed record of 670.981 miles per hour in the F-86. He also performed aeromedical research flights in the F-84 and F-86 to demonstrate high negative "G" capabilities by doing outside loops. As a Convair test pilot, he made the first flights in the YF-102, YF-102A and YF-106A. Johnson joined General Dynamics as Chief Engineering Test Pilot in 1953 and rose to become Director of Flight and Quality Assurance.

He made first flights in the variable sweep wing F-111. In addition to directing the flight testing of the F-111, he made many of the test flight himself. he made the first wing-sweep demonstration and the first F-111 supersonic sortie. Johnson joined the United States army Air Force in 1942 and flew 180 missions as a fighter pilot in World War II. He later flew six missions in Korea in the F-86.

Richard Johnson has been honored with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Iven C. Kincheloe Award, the Air Foce Meritorious Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, 14 Air Medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Henri de la Vaulx Award, the Thompson Trophy, MacKay Trophy, Flying Tiger Trophy, Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Medal and Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement and the Aerospace Walk of Honor.