Thursday, March 31, 2011

John M. Fritz 1930-2019

John M. Fritz's example of military service came from his father, Major General Lawrence G. Fritz, USAF Reserves who trained with the Royal Air Force in Britain and flew in WW1 as a US Army Signal Corps Officer. He also served as a fighter, bomber and pursuit pilot before joining Ford Motor Company as a test pilot. He was recalled for WW2 and culminated his military career as Commanding General, North Atlantic Division, Air Transport Command. He later became the Vice President of Operation for American Airlines. John's older brother also served as an Air Force Pilot.

John Fritz took two years of Air Force ROTC at Hopkins and 1.5 years of Army ROTC. Graduating with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in 1952. Fritz was accepted into USAF Flight Training as an aviation cadet. He trained at Columbus AFB,Mississippi and Foster AFB,Texas. In Augsut 1953 he gradated from flight training as 2nd Lieutnant. He then attended Jet Combat Crew Training at Laughlin AFB, Texas and Luke AFB,Arizona.

In December 1953 he reported to 325th Fighter Intercept Squadron, Air Defence Command at Hamilton AFB, California to fly F-86E and F-86D Interceptors. After all weather flight training, he was assigned from July-September 1954 to ferry new F-86D fighter jets from North American Corporaration facilities in California to bases across the United States. He closed out his active duty career in 1956 as 1st Lieutenant with the 325th FIS. He returned to the USAF reserves from 1968-1969 as a troop carrier pilot at March AFB, California, he was honorably discharged as a Captain.

From July 1956 until July 1957, Fritz was a production test pilot for Douglas Aircraft. There he tested the Navy's first supersonic fighter, the F-4D Skyray, and the A4D Skyhawk. From July 1957 until July 1963 Fritz was a General Electric Company Jet Propulsion Engineering test pilot at Edwards AFB,California, where he flew early propulsion tests of the J79 engine, the world's first production mach 2 power plant. He performed critical development tests of the F-104 Starfighter, which was the first US double-sonic producion fighter. In july 1960, he was awarded the Edwards' Fight Safety Award for the first succesful deadstick landing of an F-104 on the 4750ft runway at Mojave MCAS, California. He tested the J79 power plan in several other aircraft, including the XF4D Skyray, F101 Voodoo, F4A Phantom and Grumman's F11F-1F Super Tiger Prototype. He also flew the first General Electric commercial airline engine and the world's first aft-fan engine.

In the early 1960's, Fritz visisted all USAF bases worldwide that were equipped with F104 Starfighters to trainpilots on the new power plant. He later performed the same duty for all countries that purchased the F104 Starfighter throughout Europe, Japan, Taiwan and Pakistan.
In 1962 Fritzwas a finalist in the 2nd NASA Astronaut Selection Process. Although not selected, he cherished the opportunity to train with Gemini and Mercury astronauts such as Neil Armstrong.

From 1963 until 1965, Fritz was a Northrop Test Pilot at Edwards AFB where he tested th T-38 and F-5A and F-5B Freedom Fighter. He later led and F-5B Operational indoctrination and demonstration team to all T-38 bases in the US,Europe and Middle East. He also flew the first F-5B across the Atlantic Ocean to the Paris Air Show and continued to demonstrate the F-5B to allied countries from Norway to Iran. In 1965, he returned to General Electric as Chief Test Pilot where he continued to develop the J79. Fritz's tests of the advanced J85 power plant in the T-38 Talon led to tes flights of the engine in the B-52 Bomber. These tests spawned the next generation of engines that led to GE's dominance in providing powerplants for the majority of US civil and military aircraft. He then tested a significantly imroved J85-21 power plant in the highly modified YF5B-21 Test Fighter. He also flight tested the TF-39 installed on a B-52; the high-bypass TF-39 fan engine being the engine selected for the Lockheed C-5 transport.

After 4 years in the Air Force and 14 years as a test pilot, Fritz retired from professional flying in June 1969.Continuing with GE, Fritz became the manager of GE's SST Program and Comercial Engines rograms in Washington,DC where he representd GE to he Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and Congress. As an Engineering,Sales and Support Manager, he succesfully representedGE in the USAF C-5 Galaxy program and Boeing 747 program that led to the first USAF Airborne Command Post and Boeing's use of GE engines throughout its fleet of aircraft.
From 1985 until 1992, Fritz was Vice President of GE's Melbourne based Australia Aircraft Engines where he was responsible for marketing and support of all GE engine products in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. Autralian orders included the GE engines in F18A/F Fighters, Sikorsky Seahawk Helicopters, a 'marinized' version of GE's CF6-50 airline for use in Royal Australian Navy frigates, and engines for Australian Airlines and Qantas Airlines. Fritz retired from GE in October 1992.

Roy Pryor 1919-1999

Roy Pryor, a native of Dolores, Colo, began his aviation career with Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif. In World War II, he joined the Army's air cadet program and won his wings as a fighter pilot. With the 81st Fighter Group, stationed in Hawaii, he flew P-51s and P-47s. After the war, he remained in the service three more years, just for the opportunity to fly the new jets. He became an Air Force engineering test pilot, testing new systems as they became available for jet aircraft. Pryor joined the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and was elected a fellow in the society for his many contributions to the science of flight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rudy Haug

Rudy Haug made the maiden flight of the RAAF’s first F/A18 (A21-103) from Avalon on 26 February 1985. Phantom Works chief test pilot Rudy Haug made the maiden flight of the Boeing "Bird of Prey" technology demonstrator in 1996.

Joe Felock

Joe Felock had 14 years' active duty with the USAF as a fighter and test pilot before joining Boeing in 1997 and he still holds the rank of major in the Reserves. He holds a master's degree in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University. Joe has more than 3,000hours in more than 50 different aircraft types including the F-4, F-16, F-18, A-7, A-37, and T-38. His F-15 hours amount to more than 1,700. He was one of the three test pilots to fly the Boeing Bird of Prey. He made the maiden flight of the F-15K.

Doug Benjamin

Doug Benjamin grew up in La Crosse WI. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1978. He completed pilot training and became a T-38 Instructor Pilot. He then flew the F-106 and F-16 operationally. He attended EPNER ( French Test Pilot School), and then was assigned to the USAF Test Pilot School as an instructor. He then moved to the F-16 Combined Test Force, testing all F-16 models. After staff and acquisition schools, he served in the Flight Test Division of the F-16 Systems Program Office. He then moved to the black world where he flew on and commanded a variety of classified programs. He was the second of only three pilots to fly the Boeing Bird of Prey technology demonstrator and flew 21 of its 38 flights, including envelope expansion, mission utility and tactical applications. Doug retired from the Air Force in 2000 and became an Engineering Test Pilot with Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, where he has flown on multiple 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777 development and certification programs. He is currently the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Pilot for Military Derivatives. He was project pilot for the Airborne Early Warning and Control version of the 737 and is project pilot for the 747-based Airborne Laser. He has nearly 8000 hours flying time in 90 aircraft, FAA type ratings in nine aircraft, and is current on all Boeing models, as well as the T-33 and T-38.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kevin R Dwyer

Test Pilots Kevin Dwyer, left, and Dave Palmer

Monday, March 28, 2011

Col James G.Rider

Jim Rider is a graduate of the Test Pilots School at Edwards. He flew in many of the test programs at the base during the 1960's and 1970's including the NF-104. He commanded the Lightweight Fighter Test Force which pitted the Northrop YF-17 against the General Dynamics YF-16 and resulted in the ubiquitous F-16 fighter. In the mid-1960's he was assigned to direct the NF-104 program for the Aerospace Research Pilots School at Edwards

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Steven M. Rainey

Steve Rainey is a 1980 Engineering Mechanics graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and attended UPT at Vance AFB and flew F-4’s at Ramstien AB, GE. He conducted F-16 & F-4 flight test at Eglin AFB from 1988-1990 prior to attending TPS. Tests included safe separation, asymmetric flying qualities, and weapons tests. Steve received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Miami in 1990 and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School in 1991 (Class 99). From 1991-1994 he was assigned to Edwards AFB as an F-16 CTF Flight Commander & Primary Test Pilot for all F-16 avionics testing, night attack systems, flying qualities with external chin pods, HARM targeting system, High Angle of Attack FAM IP. From 1994-1996 Steve did his time in purgatory at the F-22 Program Office. This paid off because he was then selected to be the first F-22 Operations Officer responsible for setting up initial operations. He was the first USAF pilot to fly the F-22 Raptor; “firsts” include: 1st flight at Edwards AFB, 1st in-flight APU start, 1st in-flight engine shutdown/restart, 1st Air Refueling, 1st Loads test, 1st emergency landing gear extension. He conducted all categories of Raptor flight test and was then selected to be the 411th Flight Test Squadron Commander at the F-22 CTF. Steve retired in 2000 and was an American Airlines pilot for three years. His next position was as a Civil Service F-16 pilot at Edwards conducting test and chase. In 2005, The Boeing Company hired him as their test pilot on the F-22 program and regularly conduct F-22 flight test in all categories. He is currently the only dual-qualified F-22 & F-16 Instructor/Evaluator Pilot. He flew the first F-22 Loads test mission carrying Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs). Steve’s Raptor flight tests include Loads, flying qualities, engine tests, jet wake encounter tests, RVSM qualification testing, weapon safe separation tests, integrated weapon release tests, crosswind landing tests, avionics testing, Integrated Systems Evaluations, and Climatic Lab tests.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

James Lano Pearce 1919-2011

James Lano Pearce was born December 29, 1919 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and spent the last twelve years of his life in Costa Rica. A highly decorated WWII fighter Ace turned test pilot, Jim was the first man to break the sound barrier flying an F -86. He was the chief test pilot for North American Aviation and moved on from there to be the Assistant Program Manager for the Apollo space program. In 1967, Jim started American Marine Inc, a successful manufacturing business which is still thriving today. In addition he was a charter ship captain, airplane builder, successful land developer in Costa Rica, and wrote a book entitled, "A 20th Century Guy". Among his many accomplishments, Jim was the past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Chairman of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, member of the American Fighter Aces Association, the first recipient of the James H. Doolittle award, and inducted into the Carrier Aviation Test Pilots Hall of Fame in 1989.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

James M.Patton Jr 1927-2014

Commenced civilian flight training 1944, soloed 1945,College and USN flight training; designated as Naval Aviator 1949, Night attack carrier pilot 1949-51, Advanced Training flight instructor 1951-53, pilot in USN Reserve fighter squadrons 1953-66; 162 straight-deck carrier landings, 35 at night. (flew SNJ Texan, TBM Avenger, AD Skyraider, F8F Bearcat, F9F-6 Cougar, FJ-3 Fury, F-11F Tiger, F4D Skyray, F8-C Crusader, etc.)

University of Colorado - BS Degree, Aeronautical Engineering, 1956,Flight Test Engineer, Chance Vought Aircraft, Inc., 1956-58. Senior engineer on F8U Navy Spin Demonstration and other projects,Flight Test Pilot, Federal Aviation Agency, 1958-66, testing all classes of aircraft(rotorcraft, transports, and light airplanes) for civil certification. Assigned to Supersonic Transport Development Office 1964-66.

Graduate, US Naval Test Pilot School, Class 25, 1960 (Flight and Academic courses)research Pilot/Engineer, NASA Langley Research Center, 1966-87. Also Chief Test Pilot and Head of Aircraft Operations 1968-87. Author or Co-author of 28 technical publications. Conducted extensive testing in all classes of experimental aircraft and rotorcraft in the U.S. and abroad and in many research simulators. Retired from NASA June 1987. Independent Test Pilot and Consultant to 2003. FAA Designated Engineering Representative as Flight Test Pilot, FAR Parts 23 and 25, authorizing testing for FAA airplane certification.

(1) First flight and subsequent 3-year development testing of Cirrus VK-30 4-place Pusher (1988-91); (2) Performance and handling qualities testing of Learjet 35/36 with large target tow reel pods (1989); (3) Certification testing of Grob Egrett high-altitude turboprop reconnaisance airplane (Germany – 1989-90) ; (4) Deep stall tests of Velocity canard airplane (1989-90); (5) Brake testing of Lear 35 and Embraer 120 airplanes (1992); (6) Spin testing of 3 models, American Champion airplane (1992-94); (7) Complete certification testing of Maule MXT-7-420 turboprop airplane (1995); (8) Deep stall and spin testing of Cozy IV canard airplane (1993); (9) Stall testing of modified Grumman G44 amphibian (1994); (10) Spin testing of Maule turboprop amphibian (1995); (11) Six-turn spin testing of Maule MXT-7-180 (Utility Category) airplane (1997); (12) Propeller governor, noise, and engine/propeller vibration testing of Melex (Polish) M-26 Airwolf military trainer (acrobatics, erect and inverted spins (1998); (13) First flight, subsequent handling qualities and performance testing of new active laminar-flow wing on experimental Cessna 210 (1998-99); (14) stall and performance testing of AeroStar with new MTX propellers (2000); (15) Six-turn spin testing of new model American Champion Citabria (2000), (16) Six-turn spin testing of Red Baron Stearman-Boeing Model 75 with R985 engine and 4-aileron STC's (2002)

- 9,047 flight hours in lightplanes, gliders, helicopters, fighters, transports, and many
experimental and research aircraft. Flight test engineer and test pilot for 46 years.

- 157 aircraft types flown as pilot-in-command, including 71 experimental types flown
as test pilot.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Col. R. Dean Stickell

Col. (Ret.) Dean Stickell, the first pilot to fly 1,000 hours in the F-16

Friday, March 18, 2011

Riccardo Bignamini 19xx-1960

Charicature of Ricardo Bignamini from ETPS Graduation Dinner

The G.91 first flew on 9 August 1956 at the Casselle airfield, Turin, in the hands of Chief Test Pilot Riccardo Bignamini, who was later killed in a flying accident in 1960.

He was a graduate of the ETPS and joint winner of the McKenna Trophy for best student on his course (No13 course).

Egidio Nappi

Napoleone Bragagnolo

Napoleone Bragagnolo (right) with fellow test pilot Franco Bonnazzi (left)

Quirino Bucci 1964-

Commander Quirino Bucci has been Alenia Aermacchi Chief Test Pilot since July 2008, with a total of 5,500 flying hours in 45 different aircraft types.
Bucci was born in Rome on 11 September 1964. Upon graduating from the “De Pinedo” Technical Aeronautical School, he entered the Italian Air Force Academy in 1983 with the Drago IV course. In 1988 he was awarded the “Teniente Carlos Meyer Baldo” medal of merit as the student
with the best flying skills in the course. The following year he earned his military wings with the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) programme at Sheppard AFB, in Texas.
After transitioning on fighters at Grosseto, Bucci flew the F-104S Starfighter with the 18th Squadron of the 37th Wing at Trapani and later attended the Air War School in Florence. Selected for the Experimental Flying Unit, he completed his test pilot training at Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down. Serving with the 311th Squadron from 1995 to 2001 Bucci took part in several test programmes including the AMX, C-130J, Boeing 707T/T, BR1150 Atlantic
and ACMI without range.
From 2001 he flew the McDonnell Douglas MD80 with Alitalia. Since joining Alenia Aermacchi in 2005, Bucci has participated in the development of the M-346 and M-311, displaying both aircraft in some of the world’s leading air shows, including Farnborough, Paris, Singapore and Dubai. He has displayed the MB-339 at the LIMA Aerospace showand has twice flown the M-311 at the LAVEX show in Tripoli.

Vittorio Sanseverino 1911-2010

Vittorio Sanseverino (centre) with Manlio Quarantelli (left) and Pietro Trevisan (right).

Bio courtesy of Gian Spagnoletti

Vittorio Sanseverino was a renowned Italian pilot. Besides his combat experience in World War II, he is known for having test-flown a large part of the aircraft built by FIAT for the postwar Italian Air Force, including the Fiat G.91, the Fiat G.222, the North American F-86D Sabre and the F-104 Starfighter.
After leaving school he was admitted into the "Nunziatella" Royal Military Academy and into the Sparviero (Sparrow) course of the Royal Italian Air Force Academy in Caserta. He was trained to fly on Breda Ba.25s and I.M.A.M. Ro.41s at Capua airfield. He first flew solo on 7 February 1938. Having committed an act of indiscipline in flight, he was moved to the Malpensa Bombardment School as a punishment measure. There he flew Fiat BR.20s and Savoia-Marchetti S.M.81s. In 1940 he was assigned to 65 Squadriglia, 31 Gruppo of 18 Stormo based at Aviano airfield.
During the Second World War he received his baptism of fire on 8 April 1941 in Yugoslavian skies, at the controls of a BR.20. He became the commander of a bomber squadron and also flew Fiat CR.42s and CANT Z.1007s. After the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces (8 September 1943) he sided with the Allies and was an instructor on both Martin 187 Baltimores and Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. On 24 August 1944 he witnessed the death of torpedo bomber ace Carlo Emanuele Buscaglia, who crashed on take-off from Campo Vesuvio airfield with a Baltimore bomber.
At the end of the war he was assigned to the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Experimental Wing) of the re-established Italian Air Force based at Guidonia. On 23 July 1952 he flew the first Italian de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, built under licence by Fiat and Macchi. In 1953 he left the Air Force with the rank of Colonnello (Colonel), and was hired by Fiat Aviazione where he worked as a test pilot for Vittorio Valletta and Giuseppe Gabrielli. He tested the first all-Italian jet aircraft, the Fiat G.80, and later the Fiat G.82 and the licence-built North American F-86K. He also flew the Aeritalia G-91Y for the first time, as well as all the Italian-made F-104 Starfighters. On 18 July 1970 he participated in the maiden flight of the Aeritalia G.222 prototype with co-pilot Pietro Paolo Trevisan. He remained in service until 1977 when the early tests of the Panavia Tornado began.

Pietro Paulo Trevisan 1927-2018

Pietro Trevisan

Olinto Cecconello

The Aermacchi M-346 military trainer flew for the first time on 15th July, 2004. The maiden flight pilot was Olinto Cecconello, Aermacchi's Experimental Chief Test Pilot.

Manlio Quarentelli 19xx-1984

The prototype AMX first flew at Turin-Caselle on 15 May 1984 with test pilot Manlio Quarantelli at the controls. Sadly, on its fifth flight on 1 June it crashed due to an engine problem, Quarantelli ejecting but later dying from his injuries.

Franco Bonazzi

Franco Bonazzi entered the Air Force Academy at age 18 with the Ibis II course. Upon graduating from the Academy, he was sent to the United States in 1953 where he earned his military pilot license and Combat Ready qualification in the F-84.

Upon his return to Italy in 1955,he was posted the 51st Wing at Istrana to fly fighter bombers and remained there until 1958, flying the F-84G and F-84F. From 1958 until 1968 he was assigned to the Test Flying Unit, flying almost every type of airplane and helicopter used by the ITAF or considered by the Air Staff.
After a tour of duty with the G-4 at the Air Staff, in 1970 he retired to join Aermacchi. During his flying career he accumulated over 6,000 flying hours in more than 70 different types of planes and helicopters. After 36 years of flying, he retired from test flying in 1986 to become Director of Marketing for Aermacchi position. He retired from the company in 1991.

Guido Carestiato 1911-1980

Guido Carestiato was born in Favaro Veneto (Venice) on 17 January 1911. He joined the Italian Air Force while very young and received his military pilot license in 1929. Initially assigned to attack units, he was transferred to the 1st Fighter Wing at Campoformido (Udine). He was then called to participate in various air shows, including the acrobatics event at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the 1937 tour of Latin America with the official Italian Air Force acrobatics team. He joined Aeronautica Macchi as test pilot on 18 April 1939 and served until late 1971, testing numerous prototypes and series aircraft. In the pre-war and war years Carestiato tested all the aircraft built by Aeronautica Macchi, ranging from the prototype of the MC 100 trimotor seaplane airliner to the MC 201, MC 202 and MC 205 fighters. During his career he received a Silver Medal for Military Valour and one for Aeronautical Valour, plus two Bronze Medals for Aeronautical Valour. When Aeronautica Macchi resumed aircraft production in 1947, Carestiato test-flew the prototype of the MB-308, which he then flew to victory in the first Air Tour of Italy. In the following years he made the first flights of the MB-320 twin-engine passenger aircraft, MB-323 basic trainer and MB-326 jet trainer. Carestiato also made acceptance flights of aircraft built or overhauled by Aermacchi, including the De Havilland Vampire and Lockheed T-33. In 1961 he set the World altitude record for planes in the MB-326 category. Carestiato flew over 70 different types of aircraft during his career and was a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP). He passed away in December 1980.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

William (Bill) B.Cairns

Bill Cairns joined the RAF in 1942 and flew Whitley's and later Lysander and Stirlings on special duties with 138(special duties) Squadron, dropping agents and
supplies in enemy-held France and Norway. Later flew Stirlings, Halifaxes and Hastings in Transport Command and awarded the AFC in 1951. Joined Vickers in 1953 and for five years was involved with development and production test flying at Hurn. Transferred to Wisley in 1958 to fly Valiants and later Vanguards. In charge of the VC10 tropical trials programme.

Vyrell Baillie Mitchell 1929-1972

Vyrell Baillie Mitchell was born in Durban, South Africa. He graduated from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1946 and served with distinction as a pilot in the Royal Navy until 1962 when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During the Korean War he saw service flying Sea Furies of 801 Squadron off HMS Glory.
Returning from the Far East, he graduated from the Central Flying School as a flying instructor in 1954, following which he instructed on Meteors and Vampires.After various flying and ground tours, his final job in the Navy was as Flag Lieutenant and personal pilot to Adm Hopkins.
On leaving the Navy he joined Beagle Aircraft at Shoreham as a pilot engaged in sales, test flying and military-liaison duties. In January 1967 he joined CSE Aviation at Oxford Airport, Kidlington, as Piper aircraft sales manager, a position that he held until early this year when he was appointed general manager (spare parts). Throughout his career Vyrell Mitchell distinguished himself as a very fine pilot and one with a tremendous enthusiasm for flying. This extended into his spare time with air racing and rallying. His first association with Prince William was in 1968, when he acted as co-pilot on a flight from the UK to Tokyo in the Prince's Twin Commanche.
He took part in the London-to-Australia Air Race and more recently, flying a Twin Comanche as co-pilot to Tim Phillips from Ireland, he was second overall and class winner in the London-to-Vancouver air race. He was killed along with Prince William of Gloucester in the crash of Piper Cherokee Arrow at Halfpenny Green on the 28th August 1972.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Lindell C Hendrix 1921-1980


Republic test pilot Lin Hendrix flew every Republic aircraft from the P-47 Thunderbolt through to the F-105 Thunderchief.
The first Republic YF-105B (54-100) flew on May 26, 1956, piloted by Republic test pilot Lin Hendrix. It flew for one hour but was damaged on landing when the nose gear failed to extend. It was damaged beyond economical repair when it was dropped by the crane operator while it was being removed from the runway at Edwards AFB. The first F-105D (58-1146) flew on June 9, 1959 with Lin Hendrix at the controls.

The Republic XF-84H 'Thunderscreech'- of which two were built. The first aircraft made 11 flights (Test Pilot Hank Beaird), with 10 of these ending in forced landings. The second flew only once, Test Pilot Lin Hendrix refusing to fly the plane again, claiming "it never flew over 450 knots indicated, since at that speed, it developed an unhappy practice of 'snaking', apparently losing longitudinal stability