Robert A. Champine 1921-2003
Bob Champine was a naval aviator during World War II and joined NACA at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1947 (now Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.). He transferred the next year to NACA's High Speed Flight Research Station at Muroc.
Champine researched more than 155 different aircraft, rocket-powered air vehicles, helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) systems and gliders.
The NACA legend was the sixth man (third civilian) to break the sound barrier in the Bell XS-1. He piloted NACA flight research in the Douglas D-558-I No. 3 Skystreak and the Douglas D-558-II No. 2 Skyrocket at Muroc. During the next two years he was flying all three of the hottest aircraft in the nation, making 13 flights in the X-1, eight flights in the D-558-I and 12 flights in the D-558-II.
He returned to Langley in the 1950s where he continued flight research projects, including simulated landing missions of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) and worked on VTOL systems. He retired as NASA's senior test pilot in 1979.