Thursday, August 23, 2007

Russell M. "Rusty" Roth 1911-2009

Russell M. "Rusty" Roth is best known for his December 9, 1952 flight at Edwards in the Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor rocket boosted jet fighter prototype, making it the first combat-type airplane to exceed the speed of sound while flying straight and level. A World War II P-38 fighter pilot, Roth flew 132 combat missions in the South Pacific. As the Assistant Chief of the Flight Development Branch at Edwards Air Force Base, he flight tested the XB-43 and F-86 as well as the Northrop flying wing N9M.He graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School Class 1949-D at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and returned to Edwards where he piloted the first flights of the YF-84J, YF-105A and YF-105B. A pilot who bridged the transition from propeller to jet aircraft and from subsonic to supersonic speeds, Rusty Roth joined Republic Aviation Corporation’s flight test team in 1952 and became Company Chief Test Pilot. He logged more than 3,300 flight hours