Monday, April 04, 2011
James Joseph Stegman was born Aug. 23, 1920, in Offerle, Kansas. In 1940, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a Private. As he worked up in rank to Sergeant, he also was sent to pilot school. He received his wings in 1943, and soon after that, married Elinor Allison in Golden, Colorado. A few months later, he was sent to the South Pacific for 14 months duty in World War II flying dive bombers. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty in Korea where he flew 87 missions in F9F Panthers and was awarded the Air Medal (3 stars) for gallantry-in-action and attaining the rank of Major.
After his combat tour, he was assigned to maintenance squadrons in Japan and ferried many planes to Korea. He returned to US in 1954 to El Toro, then on to Corpus Christi as an instructor in advanced training in F6F, TV-2, and F9F. He was released from active duty in 1955 as a Major and hired on with Douglas Aircraft as production and delivery pilot.
He participated in many test programs and flew most of the Douglas Aircraft : DC3, R4D, MD8O, F3D, A4D, F4D, DC-9, DC-10, A3D. In 1958, they assigned him to Palmdale Plant 42 as Chief Production Test Pilot. He was there for 21 years until the last of the A4 Skyhawks was rolled out. He retired in 1982. He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.