Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Van H. Shepard 1925-1970

Van Shepard rose from a humble upbringing in the Great Depression to pursue his lifelong passion for aviation. After receiving his Army Air Forces pilot's wings in World War II, he became a test pilot for the US Air Force, launching a career in which he flew virtually every category of aircraft. As an industry test pilot, his accomplishments included piloting the largest supersonic aircraft in America's history, the XB-70 Valkyrie, at three times the speed of sound. Along the way, he survived a typhoon's direct hit in Okinawa, a low altitude ejection from a flaming fighter in Ohio, and an emergency landing on malfunctioning gear in California. He was killed when the aircraft he was flight testing, a "Guppy 101" owned by Aero Spacelines of Santa Barbara crashed  at Edwards Air Force Base.