Monday, October 06, 2008

Col Frank T Birk 1946-1993

Colonel Frank Birk's career as a combat and test pilot began with two tours as a Raven Forward Air Controller in Southeast Asia. He served as a C-141 instructor pilot, a test pilot for the 6512th Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, B-1A Test Program Director of Operations, B-1B Combined Test Force Director of Flight Test, Chief Test Pilot for three different joint NASA/USAF F-111 experimental programs, Chief of the B-1B Division at Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Commander of the 412th Test Group and Director of the B-2 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base. Birk piloted the first flight of a “classified advanced technology demonstration prototype” at Groom Lake in August 1983. He flew two additional flights for envelope clearance, stability and control, and initial systems evaluation.

He graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School in 1976. He flew 7,200 hours in 65 different aircraft, logging 1,000 hours of experimental flight test time. When he retired, Colonel Birk was the most highly decorated pilot on active duty in the Air Force. He continued flight testing for Rockwell International until his death in August 1993.

He flew more than 800 combat missions in Southeast Asia, flying the O-1, O-2, OV-10, U-17 and T-28. His decorations include the 1986 General Robert M. Bond Memorial Aviator Award, two Silver Stars, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 27 Air Medals, the Aerial Achievement Medal and the Purple Heart. Colonel Birk was honored by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots with their Ray E. Tenhoff Award in 1986 and was awarded the Laotion Order of the Elephants.