Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stanley A. Beltz 1911-1955

Stanley Beltz with P-38 (photo courtesy of Willy Logan)

Lockheed YC-130 First flight

Aug 23, 1954 Lockheed YC-130 Hercules First Flight with pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer

The youngest of 12 children in a Russian-German immigrant family in Kansas, Beltz had worked his way up from humble beginnings to a well-paid test pilot's job. He landed his first job at Lockheed in 1936, as a sheet metal fabricator on twin-engine Electras. In 1940, after tackling flight training and ground school, he received his pilot's license.
When World War II began, Beltz left Lockheed in search of flying experience. He spent most of 1942 working for the Clenn L.Martin Company in Omaha, Neb., testing B-26C bombers. He returned to Lockheed after a crash that lefr him unscathed but unnerved.
Beginning in 1945, when chief test pilot Tony LeVier promoted him to engineering test pilot, Beltz would fly almost every aircraft type produced by Lockheed until 1955. He helped to test the Constellation airliner and the giant Constitution Navy transport. But his specialty was another Navy plane, the twin-engine
P2V Neptune patrol bomber. Between 1946 and 1954, Lockheed produced seven different versions of the P2V. Beltz test flew each new Neptune model,also serving as Lockheed's sales representative to the Navy.
The defining moment of Beltz's career came on August 23,1954, when he took the YC-130 Hercules prototype up for its first flight. Beltz and copilot Roy Wimmer raced down the runway and 
took off after eight seconds, using just 855 feet of runway.
On what would be his last mission, Beltz conducted a secret test for the Air Force and Boeing, carried out as part of the BOMARC cruise missile program. Lockheed technicians mounted the missile's long ogival nose cone on the front of an F-94B to test subsonic flight performance. During previous tests, Tony Le Vier and Herman "Fish" Salmon had found that the modification made the aircraft nose-heavy. This test called
for Beltz to perform three "clean" stalls and three "dirty" stalls {with landing gear and flaps extended).
After Beltz took off from Palmdale on August 31,1955, the first tests. In dean configuration, went smoothly. But Beltz did not climb back to altitude before beginning the dirty stalls. At 10,000 feet, 8,000 feet above
Lancaster's outskirts, he dropped the landing gear and fully extended the flaps. Applying full right rudder to put the jet into a stall, he cried, "Here she goes!"—his last transmission.
Test monitors waited in anxious silence for a minute. Then the pilot of a chase helicopter reported a fire on the ground 3 miles north of Lancaster. He also reported having seen no parachute.  Stanley Beltz had died at age 44.