Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wallace 'Wally' A. Lien 1915-1994

XP-84 Serial 45-59475 on maiden flight

XFJ-1 Fury

A test pilot of rare discipline and precision, Wallace A. "Wally" Lien was an Army Air Force (AAF) test pilot at Wright Field during World War II. With an engineering degree and vast experience, he was one of a handful of military test pilots at Wright Field during that era who were true engineering/experimental test pilots.

In 1943 he conducted the first official U.S. Army Air Force performance tests of a jet plane at Muroc Army Air Field, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft was the Bell YP-59A, a prototype for America’s first turbojet airplane, the P-59.

He completed the initial AAF performance evaluations on many early jets that were later tested at Muroc, including the Lockheed XP-80 and XP-80A, the concept demonstrator for America’s first operational jet fighter, as well as the British Gloster Meteor, the first British jet fighter. His flight test work on the YP-80 yielded the foundation for beginning to understand and master the powerful new turbojet technology that would impact future aircraft performance. His tests on the XP-80 showed that it would be the first American aircraft capable of exceeding 500 miles per hour in level flight, taking it to 502 miles per hour at 20,000 feet.

In February 1946, Major Lien made the first flight of the Republic XP-84 Thunderjet. Soon after, he left the service, joining North American Aircraft as an engineering test pilot where he completed the maiden flight of the XFJ-1 Fury in September 1946.