Raymond Edward Yeilding, known as Ed to all of his many friends, was born in Auburn, Alabama in 1949 where his father, William, was an engineering student after being discharged from the Navy after World War II. His mother, Carolyn, had studied to become a nurse during the war, and was working in Auburn at the time. Ed’s ancestors lived in the Blountsville area during the 1800s.
Ed showed an early interest in aviation, but also, by age 7 months, he was showing evidence that he would like to be in control. After graduation from Auburn, his father Bill joined TVA as an Engineer, where he remained for 35 years. Ed was an active
youth, and became an Eagle Scout in 1963. He graduated from Coffee High School in 1967, and then entered Auburn as an Electrical Engineering student.He became interested in aviation in a serious way while a student at Auburn, and learned to fly and received his pilot’s license in a Cessna 152 in 1971, and did his first parachute jump the same year. He did not neglect his studies, however, and graduated in 1972, shown here with his mother, Carolyn, and another great Auburn engineer, his father, Bill.
The United States Air Force had been on Ed’s mind for some time, and he had even dreamed of the possibility of someday being able to fly the SR-71 Blackbird. After graduation from Auburn, he joined the Air Force, and reported initially to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, but had his flight training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. Already being a pilot, he perhaps had a head start. His first training plane at Williams was the T-37, but he soon moved up to the T-38. He received his commission as a second lieutenant on July 8, 1972. He received his Pilot’s Wings December 18, 1973.Stationed next at Bergstrom AFB flying the RF-4 Phantom, he became an Instructor. He was transferred to Okinawa, where he maintained combat readiness in high speed, low altitude reconnaissance. Returning to the United States, he was stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, from 1980 until 1983, where he was an F-4E Phantom Instructor in air-to-ground, and air-to-air weapons delivery.
From July of 1983 to November 1987, he served as an Instructor and Evaluator for the SR-71 Blackbird at Beale Air Force Base, California, flying for the United States Air Force. During that time, he flew 93 reconnaissance missions in the Blackbird at Mach 3, over 2000 miles per hour, at altitudes of 80,000 feet, on the edge of space. From 1987 until 1990, he was based at Palmdale, California as SR-71 Operations Officer, Instructor and Evaluator. On March 6, 1990, Lt.Colonel Ed Yeilding set the coast to coast speed record for aircraft, flying from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C in 67 minutes and 54 seconds. On the same flight, he established three city to city speed records. His top speed was 2,190 MPH. And guess who was at Dulles to meet him when he landed - Bill and Carolyn Yeilding, Ed’s mother and father, as well as the national news media and government and military dignitaries. This flight effectively closed down the SR-71 Blackbird program, and the record-breaking aircraft was turned over to the Smithsonian Udvar Hazy Museum at Dulles, where it can be seen today.Ed spent the next six years with the 89 Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, flying dignitaries such as the Vice President, the First Lady, senators, generals cabinet members and other VIPs to many world destinations.He retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Col. In 1996.