Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Louis C. Setter, Col. (Ret.), USAF


At the end of World War II, the then Seaman-navigator Louis Setter was discharged from the Navy and went back to Georgia Tech where he earned a bachelor degree in aeronautical engineering, after which he joined the Army Air Corps.  He says one of his most memorable years was 1949, when he was discharged from the Army, sworn in to the U.S. Air Force, and assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base in Georgia.  I got my pilot’s wings and was commissioned to 2nd lieutenant, got married, and bought a new car –  all in the same day,” he said, adding, “That was a very busy day.”
During the next two decades Louis Setter became a pioneering Air Force combat aviator.
In 1952, he flew an F-84G across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, in a first ever jet fighter crossing of the Pacific. By 1954 Setter was operations officer for the F-84F Fighter Squadron and heavily involved with flight testing the supersonic version of the fighters. He was involved in developing and testing celestial navigation techniques and cruise control computers, all of which had never been done in a fighter jet before and were required as part of SAC’s concept for using the F-84G for the delivery of atomic weapons, later becoming standard for U-2 and other aircraft.
It was at this time he was called to the legendary U-2 program, a highly classified strategic reconnaissance program headed by the CIA. In October of 1955 Setter became the fourth Air Force pilot to fly the aircraft, and participated as an instructor pilot training three detachments of CIA pilots, including Gary Powers.  While flight testing the U-2, Setter credits the early model partial pressure suit for saving his life three times while soaring to altitudes of nearly 70,000 feet, during airstart testing and three engine flameouts. Of the four instructor pilots on the early U-2 program, Colonel Setter is the only living instructor left. He was awarded the CIA Bronze Medallion for instructing civilian pilots and for the engineering contributions he made later in the program.
In 1959, when the U-2 flight test organization moved to Edwards North Base, Setter became the North Base Commander and U-2 Ops officer.  After that he had assignments as the AFFTC pilot, FTE, and Flight Test Manager at EAFB (1960-64); SPO Director of Flight Test & Training at Wright-Patterson on XC-142, X-19, & X-22 programs (1965); Base Commander of Antigua Air Station (1965-67); combat pilot, IP, and FE in Viet Nam (1967-69); Chief of Engineering of Oklahoma City air Logistics Depot (1969-1973); Deputy for Systems at Wright-Patterson AFB (1973-76).
Louis Setter retired from the USAF as a Colonel in 1976, after 30+ years of service.  In his civilian life he was asked to come out of retirement several times, and held numerous positions as a Site Manager and Director in United States and abroad. He just recently retired for the third time in March of 2015, which Louis does NOT promise is his last retirement.  Louis Setter was honored as an Eagle in 2005 and again in 2015, on the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the U-2 aircraft.