Performers / Activities
Joe Kittinger, Col. USAF Ret.
On Aug. 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger made history as he ascended to 102,800 feet in a high-altitude balloon and jumped to Earth, setting four world records. During a distinguished USAF career, Joe served as a test pilot, Squadron Commander, and Vice Wing Commander, and he spent 11 months as a POW in Vietnam. He retired as a Colonel and subsequently set two world ballooning records and won numerous ballooning competitions. Joe is a National Aeronautics Association Elder Statesman of Aviation; was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; was made an Honorary U.S. Army Golden Knight; and is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame and the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. To date, Joe has logged more than 16,800 hours of flying time in over 93 aircraft. His adventures are detailed in his autobiography, Come Up and Get Me. He shared his knowledge to help address the challenges of Red Bull Stratos, and as "Capcom" (capsule communications) was Mission Control's primary point of radio contact with Felix Baumgartner during ascent for the globally televised Red Bull Stratos free fall from space.
Art Thompson, Owner Sage Cheshire
As technical project director for Red Bull Stratos, Art Thompson conceptualized and drove the design, engineering and fabrication of the flight vehicle including development of the life support systems, flight equipment and flight-testing program that enabled Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to make the free fall froom space. Art possesses more than three decades of experience in innovating leading-edge design that has produced major milestones in aerospace history, including development of the B-2 "Stealth" aircraft. Art co-founded his own company, Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc., to provide a wide range of aerospace needs, from initial design and engineering to finished product, while a sister business, A2ZFX Inc. produces tools, molds, digital products, and more for clients from aerospace manufacturers to movie producers for films like "Batman & Robin", "Contact", "Total Recall" and "Air Force One.” Art is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Aeronautical Association, Society of Experimental Test Pilots (corporate member), and the Air Force Flight Test Historical Foundation at Edwards AFB Board of Directors.
Alan Eustace – Space Free Fall Current Record
Alan Eustace Retired as Senior Vice President of Knowledge in April 2015 after 13 years with Google. His lifelong interest in flying, skydiving, and engineering lead him to work with the world-class StratEX team to design, build, and fly, scuba-like system for the exploration of the stratosphere. In the final test of this system, Alan and the StratEX team set three new skydiving world records, including the highest exit altitude, 135,899 feet. Eustace in his pressure suit hung tethered under the balloon, started his fall by using an explosive device to separate from a helium balloon. His descent to Earth lasted 15 minutes and stretched nearly 26 miles with peak speeds exceeding 821.45 miles per hour, setting new world records for the highest free-fall jump, and total free-fall distance 123,334 feet. Because Eustace's jump involved adrogue parachute, while Baumgartner's did not, their vertical speed and free-fall distance records remain in different categories.
Jack Gordon, President, Skunk Works 1994-1999
Jack S. Gordon joined Lockheed Aircraft (and) Kelly Johnson’s Skunk Works on Monday, March 2, 1964. “While I had no idea of what I would be doing at the Skunk Works when I made the commitment, President Johnson announced the existence of the A-11 (the designation was disinformation by the president) on Saturday, February 29, 1964. Ultimately, Gordon would participate in research and development of aircraft featuring low-observable, stealth technologies. From this would come the succession of aircraft that would become known to the world as the F-117 “stealth fighter,” and onto the F-22 advanced technology Raptor. Gordon was President of the Lockheed Advanced Development Company from 1994-1999. With the March 1995 merger with Martin, the name was changed to the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Working with the great men and women of the Air Force F-117 SPO and F-117 operators may have been my most satisfying job. It was most gratifying to watch the F-117s return from the first Gulf War without a loss or even a single bullet hole. Stealth worked.”
Steve Justice, Retired Systems Director, Skunk Works
Steve Justice entered the defense aerospace industry in 1978 after graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After 31 years, Steve is the recently retired Program Director for Advanced Systems from Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs – better known as the “Skunk Works." Considered the “unofficial historian of the Skunk Works, Justice explains Skunk Works is the organization that achieves things “that others have not even dreamed,” and that the legacy of what Kelly Johnson created at the Skunk Works resulted in the aircraft that came to be known as the U-2, the SR-71, the F-117, and the F-22 Raptor. Steve retired as Director for Integrated Systems at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works operation. He joined Lockheed Martin’ Skunk Works in 1984, holding roles of increasing responsibility on programs including the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter and YF-22 Stealth Air Superiority Fighter. Steve is the recipient of the Kelly Johnson Inventor of the Year award in 1993 and 1999 and the Engineers Council award for Engineering Merit and Project Achievement in 1996 and 1999. Steve was one of the organization’s historians and custodian of reports and artifacts that document ADP’s achievements.
Robert J. “Bob” Gilliland, Blackbird Pilot No. 1
In the early afternoon of December 22, 1964, Kelly Johnson, Lockheed's legendary aircraft designer, shook hands with his Chief Test Pilot and wished him well as he mounted the ladder and strapped into the cockpit of Kelly's finest creation, the yet unnamed and untested SR-71 Blackbird, tail number 17950. Few were present for its top secret first flight, but all who were knew the importance of its success in maintaining America's supremacy in manned aviation amid the tensions of the Cold War world. The pilot was Robert J. "Bob" Gilliland, call sign "Dutch 51;" the place was Edwards Air Force Base in the California high desert. Following clearance for take-off, Bob eased the Blackbird into the sky, out to Mach 1.5 at 50,000 feet in its first flight and into the annuls of aviation history. Following the maiden flight, he continued as the principal test pilot of the SR-71 development program, personally flying each Blackbird as it became operational. The SR-71 became the fastest, high performance aircraft ever built. While active, it reportedly outran nearly 4,000 SAM missiles launched over time in attempts to bring it down. Too fast ever to catch or intercept, the Blackbird did its job well for our country, providing global strategic reconnaissance over a span of six different presidencies.
Bob was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1926. At age 17, Bob volunteered for the US Navy and was training to go into submarines when he was accepted into the US Naval Academy at the war's end. Bob graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1949. He took his commission in the Air Force where he could go immediately to flight school. He went on to fly the Republic F-84 ThunderJet in combat against MIGS in Korea and was then selected after the war for the elite Air Force Research and Development team where he flew virtually every aircraft in the USAF inventory including "expanding the envelope" in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Bob Gilliland has logged more test flight hours at Mach 3 than any other pilot in the world. He has been recognized and honored for his work many times. In the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, he is honored for making one of the greatest contributions to aviation in his time as a test pilot/astronaut joining the 7 Mercury astronauts, Charles Lindbergh and Howard Hughes in the same honor. Bob is a fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Flight Test Historical Foundation for his distinguished aviation career. Bob was awarded the prestigious Ivan C. Kincheloe Award in 1964 for his work on the Blackbird program. Those who meet Bob concur immediately with why a fellow test pilot once identified him simply as "...the smartest, nicest man I have ever known; a classy guy and true friend."
More on Bob Gilliland go to http://bobgillilandsr71.com/biography/
First flight video: https://youtu.be/FViZowxkpoo
Doug Benjamin, SETP Past President (2012-2013), Test Pilot
Test pilot Doug Benjamin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1978, completed USAF pilot training, and became a T-38 instructor pilot. He then flew operationally as a fighter pilot on the F-106 and the F-16. He attended EPNER (French Test Pilot School), and was assigned to the USAF Test Pilot School as an instructor. He subsequently moved to the F-16 Combined Test Force, testing all F-16 models. After staff and acquisition schools, he served in the Flight Test Division of the F-16 Systems Program Office. During his next assignment, he flew on and commanded a variety of classified programs, including the proprietary Boeing Bird of Prey technology demonstrator. He flew 21 of its 38 flights, including envelope expansion, mission utility and tactical applications. Doug retired from the Air Force in 2000 and became an Engineering Test Pilot with Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, where he has flown on multiple 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 development and certification programs. He is currently the Chief Pilot, Military Transport, Boeing Test and Evaluation, with responsibilities covering Tanker, Airlift and Airborne Battle Management. He was project pilot for the 747-based Airborne Laser, and was the pilot for its first-ever shoot down of a boosting ballistic missile. He flew first flight of the P-8A Poseidon, P-8I program and is currently flying on the KC-46. He has over 10,400 hours flying time in over 90 aircraft types; FAA type ratings in eleven aircraft, and is current on all Boeing models, as well as the T-33 and T-38. He has a BSAE from the US Air Force Academy, a MAS from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a MBA from the University of Phoenix. He was inducted as an “Eagle” by the Flight Test Historical Foundation at its 2004 “Gathering of Eagles”, and awarded a retroactive Kincheloe Trophy in 2007 for work on the proprietary Boeing Bird of Prey. He’s been a member of the Society since 1996, was named a Fellow in 2008 and served as SETP President from 2012 to 2013.
Allan Lockheed Jr.: Grandson of one of the founders of Lockheed Company
Allan Lockheed Jr’s passion for horizons of innovation, enterprise, and technology is the heritage of a Golden Age of Flight, which enabled pioneers, inventors, and entrepreneurs to establish commercial and military aviation, and new tech industries. His father, Allan Loughead Sr. founded the Lockheed Aircraft Co in 1927. Uncle Malcolm invented 4 wheel hydraulic brakes (creating the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Co.) and Uncle Victor Lougheed (a prolific author also) patented a process, purchased by DeBeers, to make iron with integral synthetic diamonds for machine tools. Allan Jr grew up immersed in the first Golden Age of Flight – when grounded visionaries extended human prosperity and enterprise along a vector of excellence that persists today.
Allan Lockheed, Jr., is the CEO of Allan Lockheed & Associates. His wide-ranging career has included corporate management and private consulting in technical and management fields for Kennecott Copper, Union Pacific, Exxon Co USA, Martin Marietta, and others. He developed and applied systems and management development skills to justification, development, implementation and management of hardware and software systems. Lockheed graduated from the University of Arizona, with distinction, in Engineering and Computer Science / Systems Engineering.
Allan formed Allan Lockheed & Associates in Denver, Colorado, where he developed design software and engineers solutions for high performance piston engines. Most recently, Allan assisted HDR Inc. with market study, business plan and FAA licensing for Spaceport Colorado at Front Range Airport. He is a partner in The Resource Group, specializing in Targeted Economic Development.
Allan participates in several aviation organizations including Jacqueline Withers’ BCFG, enabling kids to experience flight, properly build airplanes, and discover their own leadership potential like Tuskegee Airmen and Bessie Coleman, and a few Lougheads.
Based on lessons from the 1930’s Golden Age, when Allan Sr. created the milestone Company of commercial and exploration aircraft, Allan looks forward to the next Golden Age of Flight – in space. Our continued extension of the aerospace envelope satisfies our human desire to extend safe commerce and flight operations over ever-increasing distances and speeds around and beyond Earth. This generation will add value to the Human Potential, beginning with STE(A)M education for the visionary pioneers and entrepreneurs of the next Golden Age.
The vectors of imagination, vision and achievement illuminated by pioneers of the last Golden Age are ones we surf on today. Dad experienced transport from stage coach to airliner. Lockheed colleagues’ achievements established airpower protection. Now, their pioneering momentum leads to another Golden Age-- settlement beyond the earth!
Buzz Hale, Pilot, Lockheed Vega
Lindsay (Buzz) Hale, is a career aviator with a background in restoration of Golden Age Aircraft as well as development of experimental applications for classic aircraft providing safety and integration into the new age operating environment. Buzz started his career as a bush pilot and mechanic in Alaska in 1977. He and high school friend John Magoffin embarked on their career journeys together flying from their home town of Douglas, Arizona to Fairbanks, Alaska in John’s stock Piper J-3 65 H.P. Cub, (2500 NM, whiskey compass, no radio, and way before GPS). Buzz and John have been partners and professional colleagues in numerous projects ever since. After acquiring a Curtiss C-46 Commando which John and Buzz put into operation in Alaska in support of the fishing industry, their individual love of innovative Lockheed aircraft emerged. Buzz began an airline career flying Lockheed L-188 Electras and acquired a Lockheed Model 12A Electra Jr. and L-18 Lodestar. John acquired a model 10-E Electra, L-18 Lodestar and a Detroit Lockheed DL1 Vega. His enduring passion for classic aircraft and aviation continues. After John restored the Detroit Lockheed DL-1 Vega to flying status, Buzz enjoyed the honor of flying with John as “flight engineer” in the Vega on its transcontinental flights to Oshkosh AirVenture, Reno Heritage Classic and back to Tucson. Meeting with Allan Lockheed Jr. and John, Buzz realized that the Vega is the aviation “missing link”. As John says, “the first modern aircraft” from box kites and the Wright brothers to convenient commercial aviation and on to space travel; innovations in 1929 that established 72 records by incorporating the monocoque fuselage with a cantilever composite wing and tail of modular design.
John Magoffin, Owner-Pilot, Lockheed Vega
John Magoffin grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Arizona. "Our ranch was under one of the old Beacon Airways (flight paths), and some of my early memories are of the propeller driven airliners and cargo planes droning overhead."
"My dad had been a navigator on a B-24 Liberator in the 'Big War,' and he would point out the various types to me and then launch into one of his war stories. I don’t think that anything in his life ever compared to his war experience. I would watch those planes go over and wanted to go wherever they were going, all those crazy places, like California. "I wanted to fly."
As soon as possible, Magoffin enrolled in a community college aviation program and nine months later was headed north to Alaska in a J-3 Cub, with a brand new commercial pilot and airframe mechanic's license in his pocket.
He flew in Alaska for ten years, flying bush planes, old cargo airplanes and airliners. "During that time, I also flew slurry bombers and have dropped mud on fires from Silver City, New Mexico to Kotzebue, Alaska and lots of places in between."
One of his copilots remarked, "John, is there any town in the western U.S. that you haven't saved from a fire?"
In 1989 Magoffin was hired by America West Airlines. We turned into US Airways and then American Airlines.
"Today I fly a Boeing 737 out of Miami ... It is the best flying that I have ever done." Every trip to the islands or Central and South America "is an adventure straight out of one of the St. Exupery books."
Magoffin has achieved a profound depth of experience flying Lockheed classic aircraft, including the Vega, an Electra 10A, the T-33, the Howard 350, the Neptune and the C-130 Hercules.
"Never found a better airplane," he said. "Takes a Lockheed to beat a Lockheed."
The genius who designed Owner-Pilot John Magoffin’s restored Lockheed Vega – the only Vega flying in the world - began his career at Lockheed in 1916 and later built a reputation as familiar to aviation fans as Kelly Johnson’s. The Vega’s chief engineer was Jack Northrop, and he was assisted by another aviation notable: Jerry Vultee, who later founded a company that merged with Consolidated Aircraft to form Convair. What the two created was “a revolution in the sky,” says Magoffin, quoting the title of a book about Lockheed’s early single-engine airplanes. The Vega was powerful and sleek, unlike most of the other airplanes flying in 1927—“an artillery shell amid a gaggle of box kites,” wrote aviation author Budd Davisson in a recent issue of Sport Aviation. It quickly gained a following among racers and record-breakers. Amelia Earhart flew hers on the second solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932. Wiley Post flew his around the world the year after. Read more at https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/last-vegas
Eddie D. McKim, SR-71 RSO
Eddie received a BS degree from Indiana State University in 1969. Following graduation, he joined the United States Air Force. After completing Navigator and Bombardier training at Mather AFB, he was assigned to the 22nd Bomb Wing at March AFB flying B-52Ds. He deployed with the bomb wing to Vietnam and flew 95 combat sorties in support of Arc Light and Linebacker II. In February 1976, he was assigned to the 380th Bomb Wing flying the FB-111A at Plattsburgh AFB. During his four years at Plattsburgh, he participated in SAC's Bombing and Navigation competition and twice received the coveted Fairchild Trophy. In 1980, he was selected to the SR-71 program at Beale AFB and flew the aircraft for four years an RSO in support of operational sorties worldwide. Eddie retired from the Air Force as a Lt Colonel. After retirement, he worked for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Dana Purifoy, NASA Armstrong Director for Flight Operations
Dana D. Purifoy is Director for Flight Operations at Armstrong. He is responsible for the center’s fleet of 22 highly modified manned and unmanned aircraft that are flown on worldwide science, astronomy, and aeronautical flight research missions, as well as the flight and ground crews that fly and maintain them. A former Air Force test pilot, Purifoy came to NASA as a research test pilot in 1994. During 11 years with NASA, he flew a number of significant research programs. He flew the NB-52 mothership during launches of the X-38 prototype crew return vehicle and the X-43 hypersonic scramjet vehicles, experiments on the F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft, the Convair 990 space shuttle tire tests, and worked on the X-36 tailless fighter agility project. Purifoy completed Air Force pilot training in 1978. Prior to becoming a test pilot, he flew F-111 and F-16 aircraft in Great Britain and Germany. Purifoy served as project pilot in the joint NASA/Air Force X-29 Forward Swept Wing research program and also served as project pilot and joint test force director with the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration/F-16 program. Purifoy was Chief of the Systems Evaluation Branch at the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards. His last assignment in the Air Force was test flying U-2 aircraft.
David Lawrence, SR-71 RSO
David Lawrence graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in May 1970 as a 2nd Lt. In the Air Force and immediately reported to Mather AFB in Sacramento California for Air Force Undergraduate Navigator Training. His first operational assignment was as a Weapons System Operator (WSO) in the McDonald Douglas RF-4C Phantom II. He approximately 200 combat missions in Southeast Asia. In 1977, he was reassigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho to fly the General Dynamics F-111F Aardvark. In 1978, he deployed with the F-111F to RAF Lakenheath to assume the nuclear alert mission previously performed by the F-4. In 1980, he was accepted to fly the SR-71 at Beale AFB, CA. He flew approximately 450 hours as a Reconnaissance Systems Operator in the SR-71 from Beale AFB, CA, Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan and RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. In 1990, he retired from the Air Force as Lt. Col. In 1995, he went to work for the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. He retired from Lockheed Martin in 2013.
John McKay retired 2005 as Branch Chief of Aircraft Maintenance at NASA Dryden. McKay enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 6,1972, and mustered out Aug 1976 after serving on Yankee Station in the closing stages of the Vietnam War. He hired on at NASA Dryden in Oct 1976. The list of aircraft worked on or was Crew Chief of includes SR-71 AERO SPIKE. He was Lead on Shuttle Landings Abort Once Around Dryden team. Branch Chief Aircraft Maintenance Division from 2000-2005.
Dana Marcotte Kilanowski
Dana Marcotte Kilanowski, is an award-winning author, oral historian, documentary filmmaker and archaeologist, with over 25 years of experience conducting, editing and publishing oral history interviews, writing and producing documentaries, technical reports, and books about test pilots and aerospace history for PBS, Time Life Books, Viking Penguin Books, The History Channel and the Department of Defense.
The Quest for Mach One, A First Person Account of Breaking the Sound Barrier, which was based upon her oral history interviews of Brigadier General Chuck Yeager, Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas, Bob Hoover and Jack Russell, was selected as a "Best Book" selection by the American Library Association in 1998 and 1999. Recently, Quest for Mach One was selected as a recommended book for further reading for PBS’s The American Experience series film “Space Men” and also recommended for middle and high school science and technology (STEM) teachers by Scholastic Books in 2016.
Ms Kilanowski recently appeared as an On-Camera Aerospace Historian on the PBS Emmy Award Winning series, The American Experience Series film “Space Men” with Col Joe Kittinger in 2016. In addition to appearing on The History Channel, Ms. Kilanowski has also served as an on-camera aerospace historian for the National Geographic channel. She is co-author of two histories of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB and is the official biographer of Colonel John Paul Stapp, M.D. Ph.D., USAF (Retired) (deceased).
In 2003, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) selected Ms. Kilanowski as their oral historian to conduct filmed oral history interviews of the most famous astronauts and test pilots of this century, including Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Ph.D., Captain Eugene A. Cernan, USN (Retired), Captain James A. Lovell, USN (Retired), and Captain Walter M. Schirra, USN (Retired), test pilots Bob Hoover, General Robert L. Cardenas, Bob Gilliland, Jim Eastham and Al White for SETP's historical archives, as part of their celebration of 100 years of Powered Flight. To date, Ms Kilanowski has conducted over 150 filmed oral history interviews for SETP.
Kilanowski was named a "Key Research Historian for the Cold War Era" by the Department of Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in 1997 for her historic properties identification and evaluation reports for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB and her filmed oral history interviews of Chuck Yeager and over 50 experimental test pilots, jet and rocket pioneers who flight tested jets and rocket planes from 1942 to the present.
In 1999, Ms. Kilanowski served as a contributor and consultant for Time-Life Books, "Our American Century: A Century of Flight" on Chapter 6, Something New Under the Sun, Jets Come of Age. As Principal Investigator and Oral Historian for the Department of Defense Legacy Oral History Project at Edwards Air Force Base from 1991 to 1994, she set up an oral history program for Edwards AFB, which was subsequently used as a model for the Department of Defense worldwide.
Widely recognized as a leading authority on aviation pioneer Florence Lowe "Pancho" Barnes and her relationship with Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, Kilanowski appeared on The History Channel as a Guest Historian during the airing of "Pancho Barnes" on Movies in Time in 1997. She also produced "Mach One, The Times, The Team, The Sound Barrier" for The History Channel in 1997 as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier.
Director of the Flight Test Historical Foundation from 1991 to 2016, Kilanowski has served as an active fund raiser for the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB, CA and the Blackbird Airpark at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA. She is married to former Air Force test pilot Lieutenant Colonel Samuel J. Kilanowski, USAF (Retired), has two daughters and 5 grand children and resides in Palmdale, California.
Television Appearances: Aerospace Historian
PBS: The American Experience: Space Men: March 1, 2016
National Geographic Channel: Jackie Cochran: 2000
The History Channel: Movies In Time; Pancho Barnes, 1998
Mach One, The Times, The Team, The Sound Barrier - for The History Channel, 1997.
The Happy Bottom Riding Club, The Legacy of Pancho Barnes - for the DOD Legacy Resource Management Oral History Program, 1994. Writer and Co-Producer
The Legacy of Pancho Barnes, - for the DOD Legacy Resource Management Oral History Program, 1991. Writer and Co-Producer
Sonic Wind: The Story Of John Paul Stapp And How A Renegade Doctor Became The Fastest Man On Earth – Contributor and Consultant, Liveright Publishing Corporation, A Divison of W.W. Norton & Company, 2015.
Our American Century: A Century of Flight - Contributor and Consultant for Chapter 6, "Something New Under the Sun, Jets Come of Age," Time-Life Books, 1999.
The Quest for Mach One, A First Person Account of Breaking the Sound Barrier - co-author and editor, Viking-Penguin Studio Books, 1997.
45th Anniversary Test Pilot School History Book - co-author and co-editor for the USAF Test Pilots School, Edwards AFB, CA., 1989.
35th Anniversary Test Pilots School History Book - co-author and co-editor for the USAF Test Pilots School, Edwards AFB, CA., 1979.