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Test Pilots

Major General Robert A. Rushworth(USAF ret)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Rushworth received his pilot wings in September 1944 and is a combat veteran of WWII flying in the China-Burma-India theatre of operations, where he flew the Douglas C-47 Skytrain. General Rushworth was released from active duty in 1946 and was recalled in 1951 to the 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Dow AFB, Maine flying the F-80C. In July 1956, General Rushworth was sent to the US Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School graduating in January 1957. As a test pilot at Edwards AFB, General Rushworth flew the following; F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106 and many other jet fighter aircraft. General Rushworth is perhaps best known as pilot of the X-15 experimental research airplane, flying the X-15 for a record 34 times. General Rushworth (on his 14th flight) made the third “astro” flight on June 27, 1963 when he flew the X-15 to an altitude of 285000ft or 53.9 miles. The maxium speed attained on any of General Rushworth’s flights was during his 17th flight on December 5, 1963 when a speed of 4017mph or Mach 6.08. He is rated a command pilot astronaut and has more than 6,500 flying hours in more than 50 different aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal. He also wears the National Aeronautical and Space Administration Exceptional Service Medal. General Rushworth retired from the USAF on June 1, 1981. Sadly General Rushworth died on March 18, 1993. For General Rushworths full Air Force biography click here.

 

 

Louis W. "Lou" Schalk(1926-2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis W. "Lou" Schalk is best known for piloting the first flight of the Lockheed A-12, first of the Blackbird family of Mach 3.0+ aircraft and for his work as chief test pilot for Lockheed Advanced Development Company. He began and ended his flight test career with the same philosophy. He would fly every aircraft he could get into. After Schalk graduated from the United States Air Force Test Pilot School in 1954, he was assigned to Fighter Operations at Edwards Air Force Base, where his teachers included Chuck Yeager and Pete Everest.

 

He was a USAF test pilot from 1954 to 1957. After completing the Phase II tests on the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Schalk left the Air Force to join Lockheed Aircraft as a test pilot. In 1959, he joined the Lockheed Advanced Development Company "Skunk Works" and became its chief test pilot. He played a major role in the design of the cockpit of the A-12, YF-12 and SR-71 Blackbird and then flew the first thirteen flights on the A-12, beginning in 1962. He made the first four Blackbird flights exceeding Mach 3.0, with a top speed of Mach 3.287 (2,287 miles per hour). Much of this flight testing was performed at altitudes as high as 90,000 feet. Schalk performed over 100 hours of flight test on the Lockheed Electra, America's first turbo-prop commercial airliner, conducting structural integrity tests. He also tested the performance and stability of the North American F-86H Sabre and the stability and systems on the McDonnel F-101A Voodoo. A 1954 graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, Schalk has flown over 5,000 hours in 70 different aircraft including the Lockheed Electra, A-11, F-104, F-86, YF-12, F-100, F-101, F-102, RAF Hunter and Javelin Aircraft.

 

Schalk has been honored with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Iven C. Kincheloe Award in 1964, was named an Eagle by the Flight Test Historical Foundation in 1996 and was selected for the Aerospace Walk of Honor. Lou Schalk was born May 29, 1926 in Alden, Iowa. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Arts and Engineering. Schalk's advice to test pilots of the future is to follow his own philosophy. "Fly all the planes you are permitted to fly," he says. "You will learn from each plane and the test pilot who checks you out.". Lou Schalk passed away in April 2002.

 

 

Colonel Russell E. "Russ" Schleeh(USAF ret.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colonel Russell E. Schleeh tested nearly every bomber from America's war-winning B-17 Flying Fortress to its strategic workhorse, the B-52 Stratofortress, during his 20 years in the United States Air Force. Schleeh learned to fly in 1940 under the Civilian Pilot Training Program while working as an apprentice aircraft mechanic. As an aviation cadet in 1941, he sought fighters, but found his niche in bombers.  A 1947 graduate of the Air Materiel Command Flight Performance School, Schleeh was the Chief of Bomber and of Fighter Flight Test at Wright Field, Ohio. He also tested in-flight refueling systems, including rigid tow, two B-29s nose to tail, probe and drogue with the B-47, B-36 and KC-97 and the flying boom with the B-47, B-52, KC-97 and KC-135. He led the 4017th B-52 Combat Crew Training Squadron, preparing the Strategic Air Command's B-52 and KC-135 crews, and was Director of Safety, 15th Air Force, for 5 years. In the late 1940s, Schleeh took over the flight testing of the YB-49 Flying Wing at Edwards Air Force Base.

 

He ultimately flew over 8,000 hours in more than 30 different aircraft including the B-17, B-24, A-20, YB-49, B-45, B-47, F-86, P-51, Spitfire, XB-28, XB-19, XB-36, XP-58, XP-87 and Me109. Retiring from the Air Force in 1962, he joined Douglas Aircraft Company as Deputy Directory of Military Marketing.

 

 

Francis R. "Dick" Scobee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born on May 19th, 1939, in Cle Elum, Washington. Dick Scobee enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1957, trained as a reciprocating engine mechanic, and was subsequently stationed at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. While there, he attended night school and acquired 2 years of college credit which led to his selection for the Airman's Education and Commissioning Program. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He received his commission in 1965 and, after receiving his wings in 1966, completed a number of assignments including a combat tour in Vietnam. He returned to the United States and attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Since graduating in 1972, he has participated in test programs for which he has flown such varied aircraft as the Boeing 747, the X-24B, the transonic aircraft technology (TACT) F-lll, and the C-5.

 

Scobee was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, he completed a one year training and evaluation period, making him eligible for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flightcrews. In addition to astronaut duties, Mr. Scobee is an Instructor Pilot on the NASA Boeing 747 Shuttle carrier airplane. He flew as pilot of STS-41C which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 6, 1984. Crewmembers included spacecraft commander, Captain Robert L. Crippen, and three mission specialists, Mr. Terry J. Hart, Dr. G. D. "Pinky" Nelson, and Dr. J. D. A. "Ox" van Hoften. During this mission the crew successfully deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF); retrieved the ailing Solar Maximum Satellite, repaired the orbiting Challenger on board, and replaced it in orbit using the robot arm called the Remote Manipulator System (RMS). The mission also included flight testing of Manned Maneuvering Units (MMUs) in two extravehicular activities (EVAs); operation of the Cinema 360 and IMAX Camera Systems, and a Bee Hive Honeycomb Structures student experiment. Mission duration was 7 days before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 13, 1984. With the completion of this flight, he logged a total of 168 hours in space.

 

Mr. Scobee was spacecraft commander on STS 51-L which was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38:00 EST on January 28, 1986. The crew on board the Orbiter Challenger included the pilot, Commander M. J. Smith (USN) (pilot), three mission specialists, Dr. R. E. McNair, Lieutenant Colonel E. S. Onizuka (USAF),and Dr. J. A. Resnik, as well as two civilian payload specialists, Mr. G. B. Jarvis and Mrs. S. C. McAuliffe. The STS-51L crew died on January 28, 1986 after Challenger exploded 1 minute13 seconds after launch.

 

 

 

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