Tuesday, January 31, 2006

John David Eagles AFC 1936-

David Eagle's route into flying was via UK National Service. In 1953, all boys had to do 2 years with one of the Services . Dave had read a glamorous account of the lives of Fleet Air Arm pilots during WW2, so he applied. He did 6 months as an Aviation Cadet on HMS Indefatigable, mainly tied up in PortlandHarbour.

Then, after 15 months flying training with the US Navy (1954) flying Harvard‘s (SNJ‘s) at Pensacola Florida and T28‘s and F9F2 Panthers at Kingsville Texas he returned to the UK to convert to Vampire and Seahawk.
He then spent 2 years on loan service with the Australian Fleet Air Arm at Nowra,flying Firefly and SeaFury.

On his return to the UK , Dave entered the Empire Test Pilots School (1963) and spent 3 years at Boscombe Down flight testing Buccaneer, Sea Vixen Mk 2, Scimitar etc and stealing the odd trip in RAF aircraft like Javelin, Lightning , Vulcan and Gnat. He familiarised himslef with the Martin Baker ejection seat during a Buccaneer catapult launch trial off HongKong in 1966 and returned to the Navy proper to lead the BuccaneerAeros team at Farnborough in 1968.

Dave joined BritishAerospace as a test pilot, getting involved in Strikemaster, Lightning, Canberra, Jaguar, Tornado and finally the EAP (making the 1st flight on the 8th August 1986) which was the forerunner of today‘s Eurofighter Typhoon.

He became Chief Test Pilot and then Director Flight Operations for BAe (Military) and as such, enjoyed the perks of flying the Spitfire and the English Electric Wren. Due to age limit of 50 for military test flying,aged 51 he became Deputy MD of Panavia. Panavia is the tri-national Company based in Munich which co-ordinates the manufacture and support of the Tornado aircraft, which is still the main weapon system for the RAF, the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force. Dave retired early to NZ, which is his wife‘s birthplace, and joined McGregor & Co. as a consultant. In 1996 he was invited back to Germany for a year to help DASA sort out their ailing FlightTest Department, where they were running the Eurofighter, the German F4, the Mig 29 and the C160 programmes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

John W.Knebel 1921-

Lt. Col (Ret) John Knebel has been an Air Force pilot, a test pilot and a commercial airline pilot. His father was a pilot in World War I; planes were nothing new to him when he joined the Army Air Corps as a civilian pilot. During WWII he was an Air Transport Command ferry pilot. He was among the first pilots to get checked out in the Lockheed P80, known as the “Shooting Star” and America’s first jet fighter.
After leaving the Airforce he joined Convair as a production and engineering test pilot, where he worked for 8 years. He worked on the Convair XFY-1 Experimental VTOL “Pogo ”,the B-36 Peacemaker and B-58 Hustler amongst others. He left Convair to become an airline pilot for American Airlines, eventually retiring as airline pilot from Trans International Airlines/TransAmerica
He holds the transcontinental speed record for R3Y 8-engine Tradewind flying boat

Harold 'Hal' C. Farley 1936-

Harold “Hal” C. Farley was born in Oklahoma City in 1936. Farley was an ensign in U.S. Navy in 1959 (Navy ROTC), completing U.S. Navy flight training and receiving his wings in 1960. He graduated from U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 1964. Farley served in the Navy from 1959-67 and was assigned to Attack Squadron 164 (VA-164) flying A-4D aircraft aboard the USS Oriskany. In the Navy, he performed tests on a variety of aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom, F-8 Crusader, A-6 Intruder and others.
After joining Lockheed in 1979, he was assigned to the then top secret Stealth Fighter Program where he participated in all phases of the F-117A project and logged over 600 hours of flight time.

At 6:05 AM on June 18, 1981 Lockheed Skunk Works test pilot Hal Farley lifted the nose of YF-117A #79-780 off the runway of the test site in the Nevada desert. The F-117A became the latest in a series of aircraft to make their first flights at this remote location located XXX miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Although officially designated Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center, this remote facility is known in the popular press as Area 51.

In 1983, he was named chief test pilot, and in 1989 he became director of flight operations and chief pilot of the Lockheed Advanced Development Company.
Farley is a fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. In 1996, Farley was awarded the Iven C. Kincheloe Award by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots for tests performed in the F117-A. He lives in Sequim, Wash.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Col. Charles C. "Charlie" Bock, Jr., USAF 1925-2019

Charlie Bock (right) and Jack Allavie(left) having a discussion with unidentified person prior to a mission.
This is the sixth flight of the first prototype of the B-1 taken on April 10, 1975 It is signed by the Flight Commander Charlie Bock, the Pilot Ted Sturmthal and the Flight Engineer Richard Abrams.

A veteran of Korea with the 3rd Bomb Wing and Vietnam with the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, Charlie Bock flew 103 combat missions. During his military career he was trained as a test pilot and later as a military astronaut-designee. He was twice assigned to Flight Test Operations at Edwards AFB.

He joined the YF-12/SR-71 Test Force in 1965. As Operations Officer on the Blackbird Test Program, he piloted stability, control and performance flights, which surpassed Mach 3 and 80,000 feet. He successfully participated in the extension of the operational envelope of the SR-71.

Bock retired from the Air Force in 1973 to take a position with Rockwell International Corp. as chief test pilot for the B-1 bomber program. In December 1974, he piloted the first flight of the bomber. He was responsible for all aircrew training and had a major influence in the formulation of the B-1 flight test program priorities and objectives.

He retired from Rockwell in 1981, and from 1984 to 1987 was a consultant to Northrop Crop. on the B-2 Stealth bomber. During his flying career, Bock logged over 10,000 hours in more than 70 types of aircraft.
Born in Iowa in 1925, he received a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1949. Bock was also a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, the Air Command and Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

A fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, he received the Society’s Ray E. Tenhoff Award and the Iven C. Kincheloe Award. Bock has also been honored by the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, six air Medals and the Aerospace Walk of Honor (1994).

Robert J. Gilliland 1926-2019

Robert J. Gilliland, the first man to fly the SR-71 Blackbird, has logged more experimental supersonic flight test time above Mach 2 and Mach 3 than any other pilot.
A sailor in World War II and a 1949 Naval Academy graduate, Gilliland joined the newly formed United States Air Force. After flying P-47 Thunderbolts and F-84 Thunderjets in Germany, he flew F-84s during a combat tour in Korea in 1952. His first test flight was measuring the wing loads of the Thunderjet. When he finished, he analyzed the flight saying, "The wing didn't come off, so I felt pretty good."
As a fighter test pilot in 1953 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, he flew most of the aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Later, he joined Lockheed as a civilian test pilot flying the F-104 Starfighter.
In 1962, Gilliland began to test the fastest and highest flying airplanes, including the A-11/A-12, YF-12A and the SR-71. He made the first flight of the SR-71 on December 22, 1964, taking the aircraft to Mach 1.5 and 50,000 feet altitude. He served as the principal test pilot for the SR-71's development program.
He logged over 6,500 hours in many different aircraft, including the F-104, F-80, F-84, F-86, T-6, P-47, YF-12A and SR-71.
A Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Gilliland was awarded the Iven C. Kincheloe Award in 1964 for his work on the Blackbird program. He was named an Eagle by the Air Force Flight Test Historical Foundation in 1998 and received the Godfrey L. Cabot Award in 2001. He is a trustee of the Association of Naval Aviation.
Bob Gilliland was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1926 and splits his time between Tennessee and Burbank, California. He has a son and a daughter.
He speaks fondly of the lifelong flying friendships he formed at Edwards Air Force Base and promises the test pilot of the future that there will always be opportunities on the cutting edge of flight test in spite of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The United States will always have a need for pilots who are challenged by the inherent danger of the work. Does the danger bother him? "The work is exciting. You may get killed. So what!" he responded.

Alfred P 'Paul' Metz 1946 -

Alfred P. "Paul" Metz is the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Chief Test Pilot for the F-22 Advanced Tactical Fighter. He made the first flight of the F-22A Raptor aircraft on September 7, 1997.
Metz entered the USAF in 1968 and flew operational combat missions in the F-105G Wild Weasel in Southeast Asia.
He graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1976 and remained at Edwards, conducting avionics, flying qualities, engine and flutter tests on the F-5E/F. In 1978, he became an instructor pilot at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland.

Metz joined Northrop Aircraft in 1980 as an Engineering Test Pilot. He conducted flight tests on the F-5E/F, the F-20 and the Antonov Colt. In October 1985, he was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Northrop Aircraft, supervising flight tests of the F-20 Tigershark, the RF-5E Tiger Eye Reconnaissance Aircraft, the QF-86F Sabre and other programs. He made the first flight of the YF-23A Advanced Tactical Fighter in August 1990.
Metz has logged over 7,000 hours and has more than 37 years of experience flying more than 70 aircraft types including the F-86, F-105, F-4, F-5, F-15, F-20, YF-23 and F-22.

He was honored with two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals for his combat flights over North Viet Nam. He is a Fellow and Past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Metz received a Bachelor's Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Ohio State University, Summa Cum Laude, in 1968. His graduate studies have been in Aeronautical Engineering at Ohio State and California State University in Fresno and Aviation Safety at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California.
Paul Metz was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1946 and lives in Fort Worth Texas with his wife, Linda Rae. They have three sons, Aaron, Ryan and Jason.

Col Howard C. 'Scrappy' Johnson 1920-

Scrappy Johnson served his country as a pilot in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He won the 1958 Collier Trophy for breaking the world altitude in the F104A at 91,246 feet. In a career that spanned over 30 years, Johnson has flown over 7,000 hours in 15 different fighter planes. In 1967, he was a founder of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, building a philanthropy that provides scholarships to the dependents of American service personnel missing or killed in action- including those lost in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sep. 11, 2001.

MGen Cecil W.Powell 1935 -2011

General Powell was born in 1935, in Port Arthur, Texas. He earned a bachelor of science degree in military science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1959 and a master's degree from Auburn University in 1975. He completed the Air War College in 1975.

Upon graduation from the academy he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. General Powell completed pilot training at Spence Air Base, Ga., and Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and received his pilot wings in July 1960. He then received advanced fighter training in F-100s, and from June 1961 to January 1964 flew F-104s at George Air Force Base, Calif. He was subsequently assigned to the 80th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During this assignment General Powell flew 104 combat missions over Southeast Asia in F-105s.

The general completed the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 1968, and remained there as a test pilot involved in a variety of test programs, including the F-4E (slats), F-15 and National Aeronautics and Space Administration lifting bodies (space re-entry vehicle shapes).

In August 1973 General Powell became executive officer to the commander of 7th Air Force and the U.S. Support Activity at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. After graduating from the Air War College in July 1975, he transferred to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where he served initially as the ACEVAL-AIMVAL test planner, then as commander of the 422nd Fighter Weapons Squadron (operational test).
From August 1977 to January 1980 the general served as director of fighter and reconnaissance requirements at Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. He then became commander of the 363rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. From January 1982 to May 1983 General Powell served as assistant director for operational initiatives and joint matters in the Directorate of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

In June 1983 he transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe as inspector general and later served as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations. In June 1985 he became the first commander of the 316th Air Division and commander of the Kaiserslautern Military Community. The general was assigned as deputy commander for research, development and acquisition, Armament Division, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The general is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Space Ship One Pilots and Designer

Mike Melvill is Vice President/General Manager, a Test Pilot and one of 10 owners of Scaled Composites LLC in Mojave, California. He has worked for Burt Rutan for 27 years, and has 23 years of experience as an experimental test pilot.
He holds an FAA Commercial pilot’s certificate, ASEL, AMEL, instrument airplane, Rotorcraft-helicopter and Glider. He recently became the Nation’s first Commercial Astronaut, after flying SpaceShipOne to above 100 km on June 21st 2004.
He has accumulated 7050 flight hours in 128 fixed-wing types, and 12 rotary wing types.
He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
He was awarded the IVAN C. KINCHELOE trophy in 1999 by the SETP for high altitude, developmental flight-testing of the model 281 Proteus aircraft. He was awarded his second IVAN C. KINCHELOE trophy in 2004 by the SETP for his work flight-testing SpaceShipOne.
He holds NINE World and National speed and altitude records in Rutan’s Catbird, Proteus and SpaceShipOne aircraft.
He has flown 10 FIRST flights of Burt Rutan’s aircraft designs, including Burt’s latest, the SpaceShipOne.
He built his own Variviggen and Long-EZ homebuilt aircraft.
He and Dick Rutan flew their Long-EZ’s around the world in 1997!
He has been a member of AOPA for 36 years.
He has been a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association for 32 years.
Brian Binnie 1953-2022 is a Program Business Manager and Test Pilot at Scaled Composites. He has 21 years flight test experience including 20 years of Naval Service in the Strike-Fighter community. He has logged over 4600 hours of flight time in 59 different aircraft and is a licensed Airline Transport Pilot. Brian’s educational background includes a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an M.S. in Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics from Brown University and an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Princeton University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD and the Naval Aviation Safety School at Monterey CA.
He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a published member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Flight Test Experience
Scaled’s Model 318 White Knight
Scaled’s Model 316 SpaceShipOne
Roton Flight Test
F/A-18 Electronic Warfare Suite Testing and Integration
F/A-18 TSSAM Weapon Launch Envelope Expansion
A-6E TSSAM Weapon Launch Envelope Expansion
F/A-18 SLAM-ER Weapon Launch Envelope Expansion
A-6E SLAM-ER Weapon Launch Envelope Expansion
F/A-18 LEX Fence Performance Map
F/A-18 ATARS Transonic Handling Evaluation
A-7E Structural Flight Test Qualification Program
F/A-18 KC-10 Wing Tip Refueling Pod Evaluation
A-7E KC-10 Wing Tip Refueling Pod Evaluation
F/A-18 F404 2nd Source (Pratt & Whitney vs GE) Engine Envelope Expansion
F/A-18 Hi-Energy Nose Strut -T/Off and Landing Eval
F/A-18 First LGB Weapon Delivery Using Self-Lasing FLIR
Other Related Experience
Completed for the ROTON: Hazard Analysis / Aircrew Checklists / Normal & Emergency Procedures ,Conducted Flight Test / Developed Operational Flight Procedures (Tactics) / Provided Fleet Training (1 to 5 day course) for F/A-18 and AV-8B EW Suites. Expanded curriculum to include Foreign Military Customers and provided in-country training to Finland, Malaysia and Italy.Scaled Composites created the White Knight, Space Ship One Combo in their quest for the, "X-Prize."Burt Rutan and his pilots; Brian Binnie, Mike Melvill, Doug Shane, Peter Siebold.

Note the "N" number of Space Ship One is N328KF, a reference to the altitude required, in feet, to reach Space, 328K, or 328,000 Feet.

Flight 60L / 15P - Astronaut Mike Melvill piloted the first successful commercial flight into space June 21st, 2004 achieving an altitude of 328,491 feet in Space Ship One. White Knight pilot Binnie co-pilot Stinemetze.
Flight 65L / 16 P - X1 - First flight of the X-Prize was flown successfully by Mike Melvill on September 29th, 2004. Space Ship One achieved an altitude of 337,700 feet (radar data). White Knight pilot Binnie co-pilot Stinemetze.
Flight 66L / 17 P - X2 - Second flight to win the X-Prize was flown successfully by Brian Binnie on October 4th, 2004. Space Ship One achieved an altitude of 367,500 feet (radar data). White Knight pilot Melvill co-pilot Stinemetze.

Doug Shane is Vice President/Business Development, Director of Flight Operations and Test Pilot for Scaled Composites. He has 21 years experience in aircraft flight test, design, program management, and business development, with particular expertise in research aircraft developmental flight test. He has been the Flight Operations Director at Scaled since 1989, and has been directly responsible for the safe performance of more than 25 research flight test programs.
Mr. Shane holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 1982.
Flight Experience
First flight and large portion of developmental test of the ARES, a single-seat, single-engine jet fighter, including ground and flight firing tests of GAU-12/U 25mm cannon.
First flight and project pilot for a next-generation general aviation airplane, powered by a unique automotive-derived engine system.
First flight of an experimental jet-engine derivative of the Long-EZ aircraft.
First flight of the VisionAire Vantage business jet.
First flight of the Williams International V-Jet II.
First flight of the Adam Aircraft Model 309 piston twin-engine aircraft
First flight of the Scaled Model 318 White Knight
Total Flight Time: approximately 3500 hours, in more than 130 types of aircraft
Hold FAA Commercial certificate, with ASEL, AMEL, Instrument Airplane,Built and operate Rutan Long-EZ aircraft; own and operate 1948 Stinson 108-3,Fellow, Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) and currently President-Elect of SETP,Winner of prestigious Iven C. Kincheloe Award in 1997 from Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Peter Siebold is an Aeronautical Engineer, Experimental Test Pilot, and Flight Test Engineer at Scaled Composites, LLC. Pete holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and has been working at Scaled since 1996. Pete is a Design Engineer specializing in Avionics and Data Acquisition Design and Development. He was responsible for the development of the Simulator, Avionics/Navigation System, and Ground Control System for the SpaceShipOne Program.
Flight Experience
17 years of flight experience,2000 hours in 35 different fixed wing aircraft,Holds FAA Commercial ASEL, AMEL, Commercial Glider, instrument airplane certificates,Holds FAA Flight Instructor ASEL, AMEL, instrument airplane certificates,Member of the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association,Member of Experimental Aircraft Association,Associate Member of The Society of Experimental Test Pilots,Participated in the flight testing of the following.
VisionAire Vantage Model 247 prototype
Proteus Model 281 prototype
Adam Model 309 prototype
Toyota TAA-1 prototype
Scaled Model 318 White Knight
Scaled Model 316 SpaceShipOne
Wrote all the operational checklist and provided the Fleet Tactics Manual for the TSSAM Weapon System,Planned and executed the first (and only) radar chase of the Tomahawk cruise missile to demonstrate more effective surface fleet training,Prepared and briefed the Australian Air Force on new Operational Flight Software for their F/A-18 aircraft.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Joel Robert 'Bob' Baker 1920-2011

Bob Baker first soloed while a student at RPI,graduating with a BS in Aero Eng in 1941. He was unable to pass a military colour vision test, so taught at RPI then became a CFI.From 1943 through 1974, Bob flew 14,000 hrs in 120 aircraft types as a pilot with: Curtis Wright,NACA, Chance Vought,North American Aviation,Boeing and the Garrett Corp.

In his career he has made 6 first of type flights

XF7U Cutlass maiden flight on 29 September 1948,

F6U Pirate maiden flight 29 June 1949

XA2J Savage maiden flight 4 January 1952

YF-107 maiden flight on 10 September 1956

Volpar Turboliner

Casa 212 Aviocar maiden flight 26 March 1972

He bailed out twice, once due to a burning P-47N during high speed propeller runs, and the other on April 9, 1957, when the TF-100C he was testing was lost when it spun into the ground and crashed during a spinning test. Fortunately, test pilot Bob Baker ejected safely.,despite ejecting after the 12th spin!

Bob Baker passed away in Madrid on 14th November 2011

Willis Louis “Lou” Everett 1924-1965

Willis Louis “Lou” Everett was born on November 28, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. Lou graduated from high school at seventeen during World War II, and wanted to fly fighter aircraft for the United States Navy. Because he was too young for the Navy Cadet program, he enlisted in the Army. Within a few months he transferred to the Army Air Corps and began training as a fighter pilot assigned to fly P-51 Mustangs. Stationed in Florida, he was awaiting assignment to go overseas when the war ended.

Lou joined the Mississippi Air National Guard, attended Millsaps College, and continued to fly by crop dusting and instructing at a local air school. While attending Millsaps he married Betty June Coleman and soon after the couple moved to Starkville, Tennessee where Lou enrolled in the Aero Physics Department at Mississippi State University.

In 1950, Lou and June had their first baby, Tom. In December of that year the Mississippi Air National Guard was called to active duty because of the Korean Conflict. The family followed the unit to Albany, Georgia and then to Louisville, Kentucky, where in 1952 their second child, Kathy, was born. Shortly thereafter Lou was called to serve in Korea, where he flew AT-6 Texans on forward air control missions.

Lou returned to the states to resume his education at Mississippi State and graduated in 1954 with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and joined Chance-Vought in California as an engineer. However, Lou still yearned to fly.

In 1955 June gave birth to their third child, David. Lou was hired by Ryan Aeronautical Company as their second test pilot for the X-13 Vertijet, joining Ryan’s Chief Test Pilot, Pete Girard. The X-13 was the world’s first pure jet VTOL aircraft, and Pete and Lou were the only pilots to fly it. As a result of their research work on the X-13, both Pete and Lou received awards from the New York Academy of Sciences. During this time Lou became one of the original 17 members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. In 1957 June gave birth to their fourth child, Glen

During the test phase of Ryan’s VZ-3RY Vertiplane, Pete Girard resigned from test piloting, and Lou became Ryan’s Chief Engineering Experimental Test Pilot. Lou continued testing the Vertiplane and began testing the Flexwing, which was a Rogallo-wing aircraft and a powered fore-runner of modern hang-gliders.

The next project was the XV-5A Vertifan, jointly developed by Ryan and General Electric. The Vertifan employed the lift fan concept to achieve vertical flight, diverting jet thrust to spin louvered fans in the wings and nose.

On April 27, 1965, the two Vertifan prototypes made their public debut during a press demonstration at Edwards. One was to fly horizontally in front of the grandstand, while the other would convert from horizontal to vertical flight and descend. Lou was in the plane scheduled to descend. Flying at 180 knots and an altitude of 800 feet, Lou prepared to transition from conventional to fan mode, but unexpectedly the Vertifan violently pitched nose down. Lou ejected, but the ejection seat failed and his parachute caught on the plane’s high tail. Lou went down with the plane and was killed.

Lou was a devoted family man, an outstanding engineer, and a passionately dedicated test pilot during a seminal time in the history of United States aerospace.

Photographs and Biography kindly provided by David Everett, Lou's son. David has his own website which can be viewed from this link http://home.san.rr.com/everett/

Friday, January 06, 2006

MGen Horace A. 'Dude' Hanes 1916-2002

General Hanes was born in Fayette, Ill., in 1916. After graduating from Normal Community High School in 1933, he attended Illinois State Normal University where he received his bachelor of arts degree in education in 1937. He entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in October 1938, completed flying school at Kelly Field, Texas, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve in August 1939.
In October 1939 he was assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group in Hawaii, and received his commission as second lieutenant in the Regular Army Air Corps in July 1940. He returned to the United States in October 1941, and served with the Air Training Command for five months before being assigned as commander, 312th Fighter Squadron, 338th Fighter Group, flying P-47 aircraft.
In August 1943 General Hanes was transferred to the European Theater of Operations and was assigned to the 1st Fighter Group where he served as commander, 71st Fighter Squadron, then as group operations officer, and lastly as deputy group commander. He completed 30 combat missions in P-38 aircraft before he was reported missing in action over Yugoslavia in January 1944 and spent three months evading capture.
He returned to the United States in April 1944 and was assigned as commanding officer of the Fighter Station at Punta Gorda, Fla. In January 1946 he returned to Europe where he commanded the 31st Fighter Group, the first American group in Germany to be equipped with F-80 Shooting Star aircraft. He remained in Germany until November 1947, when he returned to the United States and was assigned as commander of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, March Air Force Base, Calif.
General Hanes entered the Armed Forces Staff College in January 1949. He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in July 1949, where he served in the Directorate of Research and Development as Chief of the Air Defense Division. He next attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from July 1952 to June 1953. He became director of flight test at the Air Force Flight Test Center Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in July 1953, and served in that capacity for four years.
General Hanes commanded the 58th Fighter Bomber Wing in Korea from July 1957 to May 1958 and received the Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service. For the next three years he was deputy chief of staff, operations, for Fifth Air Force in Japan. He returned to the United States in July 1961 and was assigned as assistant chief of staff, plans, Headquarters Air Defense Command, at Ent Air Force Base, Colo. He was reassigned as commander of the 9th Aerospace Defense Division in July 1964.
In June 1966 General Hanes was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Paris as assistant chief of staff, operations. He became vice commander of Aerospace Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., in August 1969. A command pilot, General Hanes has more than 6,000 flying hours and participated in early development evaluations of many of this nation's aircraft. In addition he has flown the Bell X-IB and several British and French jets. On Aug. 20, 1955, General Hanes set the world's first official supersonic speed record over the Mojave Desert when he flew an F-100C Super Sabre at an average speed of 822.135 mph. He was awarded the Thompson Trophy for his record runs made at an altitude of 40,000 feet.
In 1956 he received the Mackay Trophy. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon.
Major General Hanes sadly passed away on December 3rd, 2002.

Monday, January 02, 2006

James F. 'Skeets' Coleman 1918-2014

James “Skeets” Coleman joined the USMC in 1941. He gained a B.S. at UCLA in 1947. He joined the Convair Division of General Dynamics in 1952 and flew the CV-340, 440, R-3Y and F-102. He made the maiden flight and was the only pilot to successfully fly the XFY-1 “Pogo” VTOL fighter, and was awarded the 1955 Harmon Trophy. He was the first airplane pilot ever to accomplish a vertical takeoff, transition to forward flight, and change back to a vertical landing.
Worked in a wide variety of aviation companies North American Aviation, Aviation Values Corporation, Business and Commercial Aviation Magazine and the Fairchild Aircraft Company.


On April 29, 1954, James F. "Skeets" Coleman, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Reserve and a Convair engineering test pilot, made the first tethered flight in the Pogo. The XFY-1 was very much experimental. No other propeller-driven aircraft with similar size, weight, and engine power had ever attempted to take off and land vertically. The Pogo required safety lines to protect the pilot and the aircraft. Convair removed the propeller spinner and rigged a tether to a fitting in the nose. The tether streamed from a motorized reel controlled by Convair flight test engineer, Bob McGreary. McGreary could wind-up the reel and snatch the Pogo upright if Coleman lost control. Four more lines steadied each wingtip.
Coleman completed many tethered flights in the hangar, more than sixty hours of flying time, but it was dangerous work. The 4.8 m (16 ft) diameter propellers thrashed up a tremendous airflow that turned extremely turbulent as it washed against the inside of the hanger. Several times, Coleman called McGreary to "catch me, catch me" and the engineer slapped a button, spinning the reel to tighten the tether and steady the teetering Pogo.
By August, it was time to move outdoors. Coleman completed his first free flights on August 1st. He rose 6 m (20 ft) on the initial attempt but soared to 45 m (150 ft) on the second try. A short time later, Convair moved the aircraft to Naval Auxiliary Air Station Brown Field, California, to continue testing, including transition from vertical to horizontal flight. Coleman flew more than 70 additional takeoff-hover-landing flights in keeping with his conservative, safety-first approach to the XFY-1. He gained valuable experience with every flight. On November 2, 1954, Coleman finally transitioned and flew horizontally for 21 minutes. The test pilot spent seven minutes hovering. Just two days later, the aircraft made its public debut. Coleman launched and transitioned about 15 m (50 ft) above ground, thanks to tremendous engine power and a low-drag, streamlined airframe. The Pogo was fast too. Even with the throttle set at minimum power, the XFY-1 knifed through the air at well over 483 kph (300 mph). The airplane had no speed brakes or spoilers to help control airspeed and Coleman often outpaced the chase aircraft assigned to monitor him.
Trouble controlling low-speed velocity only aggravated the problems encountered during landing. Coleman's technique was interesting. He approached the field low with the engine set at flight-idle. At mid-field, he popped the control stick back into his stomach and pitched the airplane's nose straight up. The speed fell sharply but just as he reached the peak of his climb, Coleman applied power and stopped the Pogo in mid-air. With practice, the testpilot could stop the climb in a hover, reduce power and "back" down to a nice landing.
His descents often began higher than 300 m (1,000 ft). The aircraft was not stable and maintaining a hover required constant corrective action on the flight controls. Close above ground, the Pogo descended through its own, turbulent propwash, and Coleman fought the controls to get through it. With great skill and huge control inputs (stick and rudder pedal deflections), the test pilot brought this flying experiment back to earth safely, every time.
Yet another problem for the pilot made landings the most challenging part of flying the Pogo. When descending for touchdown from a high hover, Coleman found it almost impossible to judge rate-of-descent accurately with eyeballs alone. The Ryan Aeronautical Company developed a compact radar altimeter and mounted it in the left wingtip pod. Signals from the altimeter activated three lights: green signaled a stable hover or ascent, amber meant the rate of descent was safe, and red signaled an unsafe dive toward the ground at more than 10 feet per second.
Coleman climbed the airplane to 3,000 m (10,000 ft) on February 5, 1955. At this altitude during winter, temperatures can drop to freezing, yet he never closed the canopy once, during the entire time he flew the XFY-1. Convair installed an ejection seat but everyone thought it unreliable and technicians disarmed it. If serious trouble occurred in flight, Coleman's only option was to "step over the side" but it was considerably easier to leave the airplane if the canopy was already open.
No other pilot flew the airplane until May 19, 1955. John Knebel attempted to fly without tethered rig experience and the flight nearly ended in disaster. The Navy moved the tether rig from Moffett Field to Brown, and two other pilots began training in May 1956 but the end was already near. The giant gearbox had begun to wear and bits of metal were appearing in the lubricating oil. It was time for a major overhaul but the Navy was becoming enthusiastic about flying fixed-wing jets from aircraft carriers. Coleman had made his last flight on June 16, 1955. Interest in the program, and the funding, was disappearing and on August 1, 1956, the Navy closed the books on the XFY-1.
The Pogo proved that the VTOL fighter concept was theoretically possible but that much work remained to make the idea operationally practical. As it stood, flying the XFY-1 required above-average piloting skills and special training. It remained near San Diego for several more years until the Navy shipped it to Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia, and the Pogo sat "gate guard" there for a number of years. In 1973, the Navy transferred the aircraft to the National Air and Space Museum.