Friday, April 01, 2011
Harry Schmidt with Carl Christian (F-101 Engineer) planning to (unofficially) break the World Speed Record
Pratt & Whitney's modified B-17G used to test turboprop engines
Harry Schmidt joined the USAF and he served during the Korean War. He was stationed at Okinawa and flew F-94 Starfires on missions to intercept U.S. B-29 Superfortress bombers returning from missions over North Korea. The Air Force feared that the Soviets would try to infiltrate the returning bomber flights with their own TU-4 bombers, which were copies of B-29s that the Soviets had obtained during World War II. Schmidt said he'd fly among the returning B-29s, checking tail identification numbers.
Harry Schmidt was hired in 1955 to be a test pilot for Pratt & Whitney. He was to work at Edwards Air Force Base in California, testing the performance of Pratt jet engines in the F-100 Super Sabre fighter. For his first three or four months with the company, however, Schmidt remained in East Hartford and was assigned to fly the company's modified B-17G bomber from Rentschler Field. The Allies used B-17s to bomb Germany into submission in World War II. Pratt's B-17, which was completed late in the war and never saw combat, was used to flight-test the company's turboprop engines. To test turboprop engines, Pratt had the aircraft's builder, Boeing, move the cockpit back and re-balance the aircraft. Pratt then installed a turboprop engine in the nose.