Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wg Cdr James Leonard Dell OBE 1924 -2008








Wing Commander James Leonard Dell OBE One of a unique breed of aviators who have achieved great career success as a fast jet test pilot within both military and commercial environments. Probably best known for his work on the English Electric Lightning, Jimmy Dell has used his skill, courage and intimate knowledge of aerodynamics to reach the very top of a highly demanding profession.



Born in Liverpool in 1924, Jimmy Dell joined the RAF in 1942 and did his basic flying training in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He spent the remainder of the war there as an advanced flying instructor.

After the war Jimmy performed various training and test flying roles on aircraft such as Spitfires, Meteors, Venoms and Hunters. He also led test flight teams to the USA and France to work on aircraft such as the F-100, F-104, F-105, F-106, Mystere 4 and Mirage 3.




In 1957 he was detached as Fighter Command liaison officer to English Electric where he worked on the air fighting development of the Lightning, an important role in bringing this awesomely fast jet into effective squadron service. In 1959 he retired from the RAF with the rank of wing commander, and was appointed English Electric's deputy chief test pilot, working under the wartime fighter ace and chief test pilot Roland Beamont, who was to make the first flights in the TSR2 in 1964. Jimmy also worked on the TSR2 programme and flew 12 of the aircraft’s 24 test flights, he made the last flight of the TSR2 on March 31, 1965, a week before its cancellation was announced. He was appointed OBE later that year.

He became Chief test pilot when Bee Beamont retired and he worked on the French / UK Jaguar programme, and finally became Director, Flight Operations with responsibility for all Tornado test flight activities across the three participating countries. Jimmy Dell retired in 1989.

Irving L 'Irv' Burrows 1928-



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July 27, 1972. One month ahead of schedule, company pilot Irv Burrows makes the first flight of the McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle air superiority fighter at Edwards AFB, Calif. The F-15 is the first USAF fighter to have a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than one-to-one, which means it can accelerate going straight up.


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Following five years as an Air Force fighter pilot during which he flew 100 combat missions over North Korea, Irving L. “Irv” Burrows joined McDonnell Aircraft Company. As an experimental test pilot, Burrows participated extensively in programs on all models of the F3H, F101, and F4 aircraft. In 1967 he was named Chief Experimental Test Pilot, and in 1969 was assigned as Project Pilot on the F15.
Burrows conducted the first flight of the F15 “Eagle” in July 1972 and was named McDonnell’s Director of Test Operations at Edwards in 1973. In 1974 he flew an F15B in the Farnborough Air Show. In 1976, after 20 years of test flying, Irv moved to management, and in 1985 was named VP General Manager of the F15 Program. He retired from McDonnell in 1991 as Executive Vice President.
A past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a Distinguished Alumnus of the Test Pilot School (class 58B), Burrows received the Iven C. Kincheloe award in 1974 for outstanding achievements on the F15 Program, and the James H. Doolittle Award in 1989 for technical management at McDonnell. Burrows has logged over 5700 hours in a variety of aircraft, most of which were fighters.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Col Donald M. Sorlie Usaf 1923-




Donald Milton Sorlie American Pilot Test Pilot. Born 13 May 1923.

Col. Don Sorlie, flew the M2F1 & M2F2 predesessors to the shuttle, or the flying body

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tom Gwynne 1944-


Tom Gwynne was born and raised on Staten Island, New York. He attended the Staten Island Academy and subsequently Brown University where he graduated with a B.A. degree majoring in International Relations.
Following graduation from Brown University, Tom was commissioned an officer in the United States Air Force and attended pilot training in Alabama. He served as an F-4 Phantom fighter pilot for six years, including a combat tour in Vietnam where he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and ten Air Medals.
Tom left the Air Force and on January 27, 1969 joined the Grumman Corporation as a consultant on the Apollo Program. In 1972 he joined the Flight Test Department in Calverton and spent the next 15 years as a pilot for Grumman’s tactical aircraft production line, test flying the F-14 Tomcat, A-6 Intruder, EA-6B Prowler, EF-111 Raven, OV-1 Mohawk, and Gulfstream III aircraft.
On July 6, 1979, Tom performed first flight on F-14A (160902) shop number 331, the very aircraft that has become the centerpiece of Grumman Memorial Park.
In 1989 Tom was appointed Director of Flight Operations at Calverton and held that position until 1994 when left to become Operations Manager for Grumman’s St. Augustine, Florida facility. He retired from Northrop Grumman in early 1997.
Tom returned to New York and in July of 1997 was appointed Senior Planning Manager for the Cradle of Aviation Museum at Mitchel Field, New York. The museum was closed for several years and Tom guided it through its expansion and major renovations. Prior to the grand opening on May 20, 2002, Tom was appointed Vice President for External Relations for the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

John W. Konrad 1923-2006




On June 29, 1953, the Navy ordered three prototypes under the designation XF8U-1. Bureau of Aeronautics serial numbers were 138899 through 138901. Only two of these prototypes were actually built, 138901 being cancelled before it could be built.The first prototype (BuNo 138899) was ready for its first flight in February of 1955. It was trucked out to Edwards AFB for its first flight. It took off on its maiden flight on March 25, 1955, Vought chief test pilot John Konrad being at the controls. It went supersonic on its first flight.

The first flight of the XF8U-3 was made at Edwards Air Force Base on June 2, 1958, with test pilot John Konrad at the controls. The flight lasted 48 minutes and during which the aircraft attained a speed of 350 knots at 20,000 feet. During subsequent flights, the XF8U-3 achieved a speed of Mach 2.39 (approximately 1,601 mph) and was still accelerating at 0.1 Mach every 17 seconds. This was extraordinary even when compared to the performance of today’s aircraft.
John William Konrad's aviation career spanned 56 years, starting at age 15 in a J-3 Cub in San Diego, CA. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1943 and was assigned to a B-17 combat crew with the 305th Bomber group in Germany during World War II. After the war, he was assigned as a C-47 commander in the Berlin Airlift. He also served as a pilot for the United Nations in Beirut, Lebanon.
After returning from Europe, he was selected for the first test pilot training school in Dayton, OH. and was subsequently assigned to Muroc Army Airfield, CA., later known as Edwards Air Force Base. During his 4 year assignment at Edwards, he flew 28 different types of fighter and bomber aircraft. John was also one of the first charter members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Upon leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1953, John joined Chance Vought Aircraft Corporation as an experimental test pilot in Dallas, TX. Of all the aircraft that John flew, the F-8 Crusader was his favorite. On the XF8U-1 maiden flight on March 25, 1955, he accomplished a level supersonic flight, thus giving the U.S. Navy a high degree of confidence in their design of this aircraft. This had never been accomplished before and the record still stands today. Following Vought's F-8 program, John was the first to fly the A-7 Corsair II. He was the company demonstration pilot for the F-8 and A-7 in both Paris and Farnborough Airshows for several years. John was also instrumental in the first flight of the armed services first vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the XC-142, which occurred in September, 1964.

In August 1965, John was appointed Director of Test Operations at Vought. After 35 years with Vought, John retired in November 1988 and continued flying the CAF FG-1D Corsair.

Gen J. Stan Holtoner 1911-2010





Stanley Holtoner was born in New York City. Following his graduation from Townsend Harris Hall in 1928, he attended New York University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1932. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1932. After earning his pilot’s wings in 1934, he was assigned to the First Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan. After stints in Hawaii, Michigan, and Florida, he began World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 342nd Composite Group, where he operated P-38, P-39 and P-40 fighters in defense of the transatlantic aircraft ferry route. This group distinguished itself by shooting down the first German aircraft shot down by an American unit flying American equipment in the war. The date was Aug. 17, 1943. The aircraft was a Focke-Wolfe 200K, which was destroyed over Reykjavik Harbor by P-39s from this group. Quite a few reconnaissance and bomber aircraft, JU-88s, FW-200s and B&V-138s were shot down despite the extremely adverse conditions for air defense on this Arctic Island.

In January 1952, Colonel Holtoner was ordered to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to command the Air Force Flight Test Center. This center, at Muroc, performs the experimental flight tests on all new Air Force aircraft and equipment. In December of that year, Colonel Holtoner was raised to the rank of brigadier general. The following year, in the summer of 1953, General Holtoner was assigned the task of establishing a new world speed record. He participated in the Thompson Trophy Race with the North American F-86D Sabrejet. This was the single-seater radar interceptor with which he had been associated since its conception in the Pentagon five or six years before. On Sept. 2, 1952, he set a new 100-kilometer world speed record of 1,110.748 kilometers per hour, approximately 690.118 miles per hour and won the Thompson Trophy.

Subsequently, during his tour at the Flight Test Center until May 1957, General Holtoner flew every test aircraft that was assigned to the center. He established a reputation for being one of the first to fly any of the machines, For instance, he flew the delta wing supersonic interceptor March 12, 1957, becoming one of the first three pilots to fly the airplane. On Oct. 11, 1955, he joined the One Thousand Mile Per Hour Club, being the ninth pilot to fly the XF-8U Crusader. He was the fifth pilot to fly the F-104A Starfighter. On May 5, 1954, he became a Delta Pilot by flying the F-102. General Holtoner demonstrated his extraordinary skill and ability in the fall of 1953, when he flew the world-famous Bell X-1 Rocket airplane under full power and at altitude, making a drop from a B-29 at 30,000 feet and a deadstick landing on the famed dry lake.