Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rodney Maurice Randall 1916-2007

Flown cover from the maiden flight of the Boeing B-52D Superfortress, signed by Boing Test Pilot R.M.Randall.

Rodney Maurice Randall was born Dec. 21, 1916 in Berkeley, Calif., to Maurice W. and Winifred (Sexton) Randall. After graduation from high school in Berkeley, he attended college of the Pacific in Stockton for three years. Money became tight and Rod left school and found a job as a passenger agent for United Airlines. Flying became Rod’s passion. He soon applied for cadet training to become a pilot. While waiting to enlist as a cadet, he worked for the Emporium in San Francisco and was assigned to the receiving department.
On Dec. 7, 1941, World War II began. Rod went on active duty with the U.S. Army Air Force and began his training as a pilot at Oxnard, Bakersfield and Stockton, Calif., aboard the PT-12 (AT-6). After obtaining his wings, Rod was sent to flight instructor’s school and trained on the twin engine Curtis AT-9. He was then transferred to Roswell, N.M.. Rod became a single engine instructor on the Cessna AT-17. He began flying the B-17 and the B-29. He spent the remainder of the war as a training instructor at Roswell. Rod was discharged in January of 1946 as a captain. He was soon hired by United Airlines as a pilot. He flew intermittently for United for three years, but during the winter months, flights were limited due to weather.

Rod moved to Seattle and found temporary work flying non-scheduled flights to Alaska and elsewhere aboard DC-3’s. After six months, he was hired by Boeing Aircraft as a test pilot and worked for Boeing for the next 32 years. Rod flew the C-97 Stratocruiser, which Boeing based on the B-29 bomber. The Stratocruiser became Boeing’s first luxury commercial aircraft. He also flew the B-50 bomber and the B-47. He was transferred to Wichita, Kansas, where he remained for 25 years. From 1951 to 1963 he flew the B-47, a six-engine swept wing bomber with a three-man crew. He flew the B-52 upgraded models and became Chief Pilot for the production line.
In 1977, he was transferred to Alamogordo, N.M., where he flew B-52’s with the new Short Range Attack Missile (SHRAM) and led a flight crew task force for missile development. He became the Air Base Manager for Alamogorda, working up to the launch of a new aircraft/missile system. Rod returned to Wichita. Flying was slowing down and the B-52 was coming to the end of its military life. He stopped flying and became head of the Safety Department for Boeing. Rod was transferred to Seattle. For a time he was assigned to Lancaster, Calif., Air Force Base, an experimental center for the new SHRAM missiles. Rod returned to Seattle, retired from Boeing in 1980