Test pilot
For the film, see Test Pilot (film)
Test Pilot (film)
Test Pilot is a 1938 film directed by Victor Fleming and featuring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, and Lionel Barrymore. The movie tells the story of a daredevil test pilot , his wife , and his best friend...


A test pilot is an aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 who flies new and modified aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated.

Test pilots may work for military organizations
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 or private, (mostly aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

) companies. Testing military aircraft, in particular, is regarded as the most challenging and risky flying conducted in peacetime.

In the 1950s, test pilots were being killed at the rate of about one a week, but the risks have shrunk to a fraction of that, thanks to the maturation of aircraft technology, better ground-testing and simulation of aircraft performance, and, lately, the use of unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s to test experimental aircraft features. Still, piloting experimental aircraft remains more dangerous than most other types of flying.


A test pilot must be able to:
  • Understand a test plan;
  • Stick to a test plan, flying a plane in a highly specific way;
  • Carefully document the results of each test;
  • Have an excellent feel for the aircraft, and sense exactly how it is behaving oddly if it is doing so;
  • Solve problems quickly if anything goes wrong with the aircraft during a test;
  • Cope with many different things going wrong at once.

Test pilots must have an excellent knowledge of aeronautical engineering, in order to understand how they are tested and why. Test pilots must be above average pilots with excellent analytical skills and the ability to fly accurately whilst following a flight plan.


Test flying as a systematic activity started during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

 (RAE) in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

An "Experimental Flight" was formed at the Central Flying School
Central Flying School
The Central Flying School is the Royal Air Force's primary institution for the training of military flying instructors. Established in 1912 it is the longest existing flying training school.-History:...

During the 1920s, test flying was further developed by the RAE in the UK, and by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 (NACA) in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In the 1950s, NACA was transformed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. During these years, as work was done into aircraft stability and handling qualities, test flying evolved towards a more qualitative scientific profession.

The world's oldest test pilot school is what is now called the Empire Test Pilots' School
Empire Test Pilots' School
The Empire Test Pilots' School is a British training school for test pilots and flight test engineers of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England. It was established in 1943, the first of its type...

 (motto "Learn to Test - Test to Learn"), at RAF Boscombe Down in the UK. In America, the United States Air Force Test Pilot School is located at Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, the United States Naval Test Pilot School
United States Naval Test Pilot School
The United States Naval Test Pilot School , located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, provides instruction to experienced United States Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and foreign military experimental test pilots, flight test engineers, and flight test...

 is located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River
Naval Air Station Patuxent River
"Pax River" redirects here. For the river, see Patuxent River.Naval Air Station Patuxent River , also known as NAS Pax River, is a United States Naval Air Station located in St. Mary's County, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Patuxent River. It is home to the U.S...

, Maryland and EPNER
EPNER, is the French test pilot school, based at the Istres Le Tube Airbase, France. One of the four main test pilot schools in the western hemisphere, EPNER maintains close links with the other three schools; The Empire Test Pilot's School ; The United States Air Force Test Pilot School and The...

 (Ecole du Personnel Navigant d'Essai et de Reception - "School for flight test and acceptance personnel"), the French test pilot school, located in Istres
Istres is a commune in southern France, some 60 km northwest of Marseille. It is in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture...

, France. Another school is the private National Test Pilot School
National Test Pilot School
The National Test Pilot School is a civilian test pilot school located at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. The school attracts students primarily from commercial aircraft manufacturers and military air forces...

, located in Mojave
Mojave, California
Mojave is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, United States. Mojave is located east of Bakersfield, at an elevation of 2762 feet...

, California.

Notable test pilots

Some notable test pilots include:
  • Neil Armstrong
    Neil Armstrong
    Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

    , X-15
    North American X-15
    The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAAF/USAF, NACA/NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and...

     pilot and first man to walk on the moon.
  • Eric "Winkle" Brown, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
    Guinness World Records
    Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records , is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world...

     as having flown more aircraft types (487) than any other pilot in the world and first pilot to land a jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier
    Aircraft carrier
    An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

    , and also holds the world record for the most carrier landings.
  • Roland Beamont
    Roland Beamont
    Wing Commander Roland Prosper "Bee" Beamont CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar was a British fighter pilot and test pilot for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and the years that followed...

     - for English Electric
    English Electric
    English Electric was a British industrial manufacturer. Founded in 1918, it initially specialised in industrial electric motors and transformers...

     and BAC
    British Aircraft Corporation
    The British Aircraft Corporation was a British aircraft manufacturer formed from the government-pressured merger of English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers-Armstrongs , the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Hunting Aircraft in 1960. Bristol, English Electric and Vickers became "parents" of BAC with...

     flew the Canberra
    English Electric Canberra
    The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft in 1957...

     and Lightning
    English Electric Lightning
    The English Electric Lightning is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft of the Cold War era, noted for its great speed and unpainted natural metal exterior finish. It is the only all-British Mach 2 fighter aircraft. The aircraft was renowned for its capabilities as an interceptor; Royal Air Force ...

     and was the first pilot to make a double Atlantic crossing
    Transatlantic flight
    Transatlantic flight is the flight of an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. A transatlantic flight may proceed east-to-west, originating in Europe or Africa and terminating in North America or South America, or it may go in the reverse direction, west-to-east...

     by jet.
  • Bill Bedford
    Bill Bedford
    Alfred William "Bill" Bedford OBE AFC FRAeS was a British test pilot and pioneered the development of V/STOL aircraft.Bedford was born on the 18 November 1920 at Loughborough and was educated at Loughborough College...

     - for Hawker Aircraft
    Hawker Aircraft
    Hawker Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer responsible for some of the most famous products in British aviation history.-History:...

     flew the Hawker P.1127
    Hawker P.1127
    The Hawker P.1127 and the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 were the experimental and development aircraft that led to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first vertical and/or short take-off and landing jet fighter-bomber...

     & Kestrel and later Harrier VTOL
    A vertical take-off and landing aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors...

     jet aircraft.
  • Scott Crossfield
    Albert Scott Crossfield
    Albert Scott Crossfield was an American naval officer and test pilot.-Biography:Born in Berkeley, California, Crossfield grew up in California and Washington. He served with the U.S. Navy as a flight instructor and fighter pilot during World War II...

    , Yeager's direct rival and the first pilot known to have reached Mach
    Mach number
    Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

  • John Derry
    John Derry
    John Douglas Derry DFC was a British test pilot, and was the first Briton to exceed the speed of sound...

    , for de Havilland
    De Havilland
    The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 when Airco, of which Geoffrey de Havilland had been chief designer, was sold to BSA by the owner George Holt Thomas. De Havilland then set up a company under his name in September of that year at Stag Lane...

     the first Briton to exceed the speed of sound. He was killed in the 1952 Farnborough Airshow DH.110 crash
    1952 Farnborough Airshow DH.110 crash
    The 1952 Farnborough DH.110 crash was an air show accident that killed 29 spectators, the pilot , and the onboard flight test observer when during a manoeuvre, the aircraft broke up due to a faulty wing leading edge design...

     where his aircraft broke up.
  • Heini Dittmar
    Heini Dittmar
    Heini Dittmar was a German glider pilot.Inspired by the example of his glider flying brother Edgar, Dittmar took an apprenticeship at the German Institute for Gliding , and won first prize in his class in the 1932 Rhön Glider Competition, when he was 21 years old, with a self-built glider,...

    , the first pilot to ever hold any sort of airspeed record, unofficial or otherwise, while flying a rocket powered fixed-wing aircraft (Messerschmitt Me 163
    Messerschmitt Me 163
    The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt...

    A and B-series prototypes) at 1004 km/h (624 mph) in 1941, and 1130 km/h (702 mph) in 1944.
  • Neville Duke
    Neville Duke
    Squadron Leader Neville Frederick Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars, AFC, FRAeS,Czech War Cross was a British Second World War fighter pilot. He was the top Allied flying ace in the Mediterranean Theatre, having shot down at least 27 enemy aircraft, and was acknowledged as one of the world's foremost...

     - World War two fighter ace, holder of airspeed record, Chief Test Pilot for Hawker.
  • Boone Guyton
    Boone Guyton
    Boone Tarleton Guyton United States Navy, was a Naval Aviation Cadet, experimental test pilot, author and businessman...

     - World War II test pilot at Chance-Vought, best known for participation in development of the F4U Corsair
    F4U Corsair
    The Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and...

    , also tested SB2U Vindicator
    SB2U Vindicator
    The Vought SB2U Vindicator was a carrier-based dive bomber developed for the United States Navy in the 1930s, the first monoplane in this role. Obsolescent at the outbreak of World War II, Vindicators still remained in service at the time of the Battle of Midway, but by 1943, all had been withdrawn...

    , OS2U Kingfisher
    OS2U Kingfisher
    The Vought OS2U Kingfisher was an American catapult-launched observation floatplane. It was a compact mid-wing monoplane, with a large central float and small stabilizing floats. Performance was modest, because of its light engine...

    , Vought V-173
    Vought V-173
    |-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Chant, Christopher. Fantastic Aircraft. New York: Gallery Books, 1984. ISBN 0-8317-3-189-3.* Ginter, Steve. Chance Vought V-173 and XFU-1 Flying Pancakes . Simi Valley, CA: Steve Ginter Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0-942612-21-3.* Guyton, Boone T...

     flying pancake, F6U Pirate
    F6U Pirate
    |-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York: Barnes & Noble Inc., 1988, ISBN 0-07607-0904-1....

    , and F7U Cutlass
    F7U Cutlass
    The Vought F7U Cutlass was a United States Navy carrier-based jet fighter and fighter-bomber of the early Cold War era. It was a highly unusual, semi-tailless design, allegedly based on aerodynamic data and plans captured from the German Arado company at the end of World War II, though Vought...

  • Geoffrey de Havilland, Jr. - for de Havilland flew the Mosquito
    De Havilland Mosquito
    The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

     and Vampire
    De Havilland Vampire
    The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was a British jet-engine fighter commissioned by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Following the Gloster Meteor, it was the second jet fighter to enter service with the RAF. Although it arrived too late to see combat during the war, the Vampire served...

    , killed in the near supersonic de Havilland DH 108. His two brothers were also test pilots. John
    John de Havilland (pilot)
    John de Havilland, was a British test pilot.John and his brothers, Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. and Peter, were sons of Geoffrey de Havilland, the famous designer and manufacturer. All three brothers were pilots and flew as test pilots for the de Havilland company...

     was killed in a mid-air collision in 1943.
  • John Cunningham
    John Cunningham (RAF officer)
    Group Captain John "Cat's Eyes" Cunningham CBE, DSO & Two Bars, DFC & Bar, , was a British Royal Air Force night fighter ace during World War II and a test pilot, both before and after the war...

    , test-pilot before and after RAF service during World War II. Test-piloted the world's first jet airliner
    Jet airliner
    A jet airliner is an airliner that is powered by jet engines. This term is sometimes contracted to jetliner or jet.In contrast to today's relatively fuel-efficient, turbofan-powered air travel, first generation jet airliner travel was noisy and fuel inefficient...

    , the de Havilland Comet
    De Havilland Comet
    The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design...

    . de Havillands chief test pilot after Geoffrey's death.
  • Harry Hawker
    Harry Hawker
    Harry George Hawker MBE, AFC, was an Australian aviation pioneer and co-founder of Hawker Aircraft, the firm that would later be responsible for a long series of successful military aircraft.-Early life:...

    , aviation pioneer pre-World War I and Sopwith Aviation Company
    Sopwith Aviation Company
    The Sopwith Aviation Company was a British aircraft company that designed and manufactured aeroplanes mainly for the British Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Flying Corps and later Royal Air Force in the First World War, most famously the Sopwith Camel...

     chief test pilot.
  • Bill Humble
    Bill Humble
    William Humble MBE was a well-known pre-Second World War aviator, known as an air racer and for his aerobatic displays, he was also an officer in the Royal Air Force Special Reserve, and the Auxiliary Air Force. Although he qualified as a mining engineer the lure of flying proved too strong, and...

    , British test pilot who first flew the first Hawker Tempest V
    Hawker Tempest
    The Hawker Tempest was a British fighter aircraft primarily used by the Royal Air Force in the Second World War. The Tempest was an improved derivative of the Hawker Typhoon, and one of the most powerful fighter aircraft used during the war....

    , JN729 on 21 June 1943.
  • Howard Hughes
    Howard Hughes
    Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, and philanthropist. He was one of the wealthiest people in the world...

     - Notable for test piloting aircraft produced by his company, Hughes Aircraft
    Hughes Aircraft
    Hughes Aircraft Company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor founded in 1932 by Howard Hughes in Culver City, California as a division of Hughes Tool Company...

    , and bought by his airline, TWA
    Trans World Airlines
    Trans World Airlines was an American airline that existed from 1925 until it was bought out by and merged with American Airlines in 2001. It was a major domestic airline in the United States and the main U.S.-based competitor of Pan American World Airways on intercontinental routes from 1946...

    . Broke the World Land Plane Speed Record in 1935 and test flew the world's largest airplane, the Spruce Goose, in 1947. Both aircraft were of his own design.
  • "Tex" Johnston
    Alvin M. Johnston
    Alvin M. "Tex" Johnston was a American jet-age test pilot for Bell Aircraft and the Boeing Company.-Early years:...

    , who piloted the Boeing 707 prototype
    Boeing 367-80
    The Boeing 367-80, or "Dash 80" as it was called within Boeing, is an American prototype jet transport built to demonstrate the advantages of jet aircraft for passenger transport over piston-engine airliners....

  • Hans-Werner Lerche, German World War II test pilot, who flew 125 different aircraft including captured Allied aircraft to assess their performance, as well as many German types.
  • Anthony W. "Tony" LeVier
    Tony LeVier
    Anthony W. "Tony" LeVier was an air racer and test pilot for the Lockheed Corporation from the 1940s to the 1970s.- Early life :...

    , air racer and test pilot for the Lockheed Corporation
    Lockheed Corporation
    The Lockheed Corporation was an American aerospace company. Lockheed was founded in 1912 and later merged with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin in 1995.-Origins:...

  • Mike Melvill
    Mike Melvill
    Michael Winston "Mike" Melvill is one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites. Melvill piloted SpaceShipOne on its first flight past the edge of space, flight 15P on June 21, 2004, thus becoming the first commercial astronaut and the 434th...

    , first privately funded pilot in space. Winner of the Kinchloe award
  • Alfred "Paul" Metz, chief test pilot of the Northrop/McDonnell Douglas Advanced Tactical Fighter YF-23A Black Widow II, receiving the Iven C. Kincheloe Award for his work on the ATF, and later chief test pilot of the first Lockheed/Boeing/General Dynamics F-22 Raptor
    F-22 Raptor
    The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine fifth-generation supermaneuverable fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals...

     (Raptor 4001), piloting the first flight of each. Member and past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
  • Tom Morgenfeld, chief test pilot for Lockheed Martin's Skunk works
    Skunk works
    Skunk Works is an official alias for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs , formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. Skunk Works is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Nighthawk, and the F-22 Raptor...

     and the Joint Strike Fighter.
  • John Lankester Parker
    John Lankester Parker
    John Lankester Parker OBE FRAeS Hon. MSLAE was Chief Test Pilot for Short Brothers from 1918 until his retirement in 1945. He joined Shorts in 1916 as a part-time test pilot and assistant to then Chief Test Pilot Ronald Kemp, having been recommended for the post by Captain, later Admiral Sir,...

    , British test pilot and Chief Test Pilot for Short Brothers
    Short Brothers
    Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company, usually referred to simply as Shorts, that is now based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1908, Shorts was the first company in the world to make production aircraft and was a manufacturer of flying boats during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s...

    , the world's first aircraft manufacturing company, from 1916 until 1945. During this time he flew every Shorts aircraft type, i.e. including the Short Sunderland
    Short Sunderland
    The Short S.25 Sunderland was a British flying boat patrol bomber developed for the Royal Air Force by Short Brothers. It took its service name from the town and port of Sunderland in northeast England....

     and the Short Stirling
    Short Stirling
    The Short Stirling was the first four-engined British heavy bomber of the Second World War. The Stirling was designed and built by Short Brothers to an Air Ministry specification from 1936, and entered service in 1941...

    , on its maiden test flight.
  • Marina Popovich
    Marina Popovich
    Marina Popovich is a retired Soviet Air Force colonel, engineer, and legendary Soviet test pilot who holds 107 aviation world records set on over 40 types of aircraft...

    , Russian test pilot who set 107 world records in aviation.

  • Hanna Reitsch
    Hanna Reitsch
    Hanna Reitsch was a German aviator and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II...

    , the German female test pilot of the V-1 flying bomb
    V-1 flying bomb
    The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

     program, especially its manned version.
  • Ewald Rohlfs
    Ewald Rohlfs
    Ewald Rohlfs was a test pilot. In 1936 Rohlfs made the first flight of a helicopter, the Focke-Wulf Fw 61. One year later he took the helicopter to an altitude of 1,130 feet and then idled the engine. using its spinning rotors to descend safely to the ground....

     of Germany, who made the first flight of a helicopter
    A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

    , the Focke-Wulf Fw 61
    Focke-Wulf Fw 61
    |-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Coates, Steve and Jean-Christophe Carbonel. Helicopters of the Third Reich. Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications Ltd., 2002. ISBN 1-903223-24-5....

  • Flt Lt
    Flight Lieutenant
    Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

     Gerry Sayer
    Gerry Sayer
    Flight Lieutenant Phillip Edward Gerald Sayer OBE , was Chief Test Pilot for Gloster Aircraft as well as a serving RAF officer. Gerry Sayer flew Britain's maiden jet flight in Sir Frank Whittle's Gloster E.28/39 , an aircraft designed by George Carter, on 15 May 1941.-Early life:He was born in...

     (RAF), test pilot of Britain's first jet aircraft, Sir Frank Whittle
    Frank Whittle
    Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS was a British Royal Air Force engineer officer. He is credited with independently inventing the turbojet engine Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air...

    's Gloster E.28/39
    Gloster E.28/39
    |-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* James, Derek N. Gloster Aircraft since 1917. London: Putnam, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-807-0.* Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II. London: Chancellor Press, 1994. ISBN 1-85152-668-4.* Morgan, Eric B. "A New Concept of...

    , in 1941.
  • Joseph "Mutt" Summers- chief test pilot at Vickers-Armstrong and holds the highest number of "prototype first flights". He also holds the highest number of flying hours of any test pilot (5600).
  • Andre Turcat first test pilot to fly Concorde
    Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

  • Brian Trubshaw
    Brian Trubshaw
    Ernest Brian Trubshaw, CBE, MVO was a notable test pilot, and the first British pilot to fly Concorde, in April 1969....

     for Vickers-Armstrongs and then British Aircraft Corporation
    British Aircraft Corporation
    The British Aircraft Corporation was a British aircraft manufacturer formed from the government-pressured merger of English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers-Armstrongs , the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Hunting Aircraft in 1960. Bristol, English Electric and Vickers became "parents" of BAC with...

    , test pilot on Concorde
    Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport . It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation...

  • Joe Walker
    Joseph A. Walker
    Joseph Albert "Joe" Walker was an American NASA test pilot, and member of the U.S. Air Force Man In Space Soonest program. In 1963, he made two X-15 Experimental rocket aircraft flights beyond the altitude of 100 kilometers - at the edge of outer space...

    , X-15 pilot, first to reach the internationally-recognized boundary to space in a spaceplane
    A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that...

  • Erich Warsitz
    Erich Warsitz
    Erich Warsitz was a German test pilot of the 1930s. He held the rank of Flight-Captain in the Luftwaffe and was selected by the Reich Air Ministry as chief test pilot at Peenemünde West...

    , the first man to fly an aircraft under turbojet power, the Heinkel He 178
    Heinkel He 178
    |-See also:*List of firsts in aviation-Bibliography:* Warsitz, Lutz: The First Jet Pilot - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 9781844158188.-External links:...

    , on August 27, 1939.
  • George Welch, a test pilot for North American Aviation
    North American Aviation
    North American Aviation was a major US aerospace manufacturer, responsible for a number of historic aircraft, including the T-6 Texan trainer, the P-51 Mustang fighter, the B-25 Mitchell bomber, the F-86 Sabre jet fighter, the X-15 rocket plane, and the XB-70, as well as Apollo Command and Service...

    , whom some believe broke the sound barrier before Yeager.
  • Fritz Wendel
    Fritz Wendel
    Fritz Wendel was a German test pilot during the 1930s and 1940s.-Achievements:On 26 April 1939 Fritz Wendel set the world air speed record of 469.22 mph, flying the Messerschmitt Me 209 V1...

    , Messerschmitt
    Messerschmitt AG was a famous German aircraft manufacturing corporation named for its chief designer, Willy Messerschmitt, and known primarily for its World War II fighter aircraft, notably the Bf 109 and Me 262...

    's chief test pilot, who broke the world piston-engined speed record with the Messerschmitt Me 209
    Messerschmitt Me 209
    |-See also:-Bibliography:* Feist, Uwe. The Fighting Me 109. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1993. ISBN 1-85409-209-X.* Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, vol. I. London: Hanover House, 1960....

     V1 in 1939 and first flew the Messerschmitt 262, the world's first operational jet fighter.
  • Brigadier General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager
    Chuck Yeager
    Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound...

    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

    ), the first pilot known to have broken the sound barrier and perhaps the most commonly cited example.
  • Janusz Żurakowski
    Janusz Zurakowski
    Janusz Żurakowski was a renowned Polish fighter and test pilot, who, at various times, lived and worked in Poland, the United Kingdom, and Canada.-Early life:...

    - postwar test pilot for Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
    The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment was a research facility for British military aviation from 1918 to 1992.-History:...

     at Boscombe Down
    MoD Boscombe Down
    MoD Boscombe Down is an aircraft testing site located at Idmiston, south of Amesbury, in Wiltshire, England. It is run and managed by QinetiQ, the company created as part of the breakup of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001 by the UK Ministry of Defence...

    , test pilot for Gloster Aircraft company and Avro Aircraft Ltd.
    Avro Canada
    Commonly known as Avro Canada, this company started in 1945 as an aircraft plant and became within thirteen years the third-largest company in Canada, one of the largest 100 companies in the world, and directly employing over 50,000...

    , flew Gloster Meteor
    Gloster Meteor
    The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

    , Gloster Javelin
    Gloster Javelin
    The Gloster Javelin was an "all-weather" interceptor aircraft that served with Britain's Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and most of the 1960s...

     and Avro CF-105 Arrow among others.
  • Alexey Perelet
    Alexey Perelet
    Alexey D Perelet was a Soviet pilot who was the principal test pilot for military aircraft prototypes produced by Tupolev during World War II. Perelet was born in Voronky, Ukraine and started his test pilot career in 1943, working for the Tupolev aerospace and defense company. He tested and flew...

    , test pilot, first to lift several Tupolev planes including Tu-4
    Tupolev Tu-4
    The Tupolev Tu-4 was a piston-engined Soviet strategic bomber that served the Soviet Air Force from the late 1940s to mid 1960s...

     and TU-95 Bear. Killed during Tu-95/1 plane crash May 11 1953.

Awards made to notable test pilots include the international Iven C. Kincheloe Award
Iven C. Kincheloe Award
The Iven C. Kincheloe Award recognizes outstanding professional accomplishment in the conduct of flight testing. It was established in 1958 by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and honors the memory of test pilot and Korean War ace Iven C...

 made by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Society of Experimental Test Pilots
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots is an international organization that seeks to promote air safety and contributes to aeronautical advancement by promoting sound aeronautical design and development; interchanging ideas, thoughts and suggestions of the members, assisting in the professional...


See also

  • Test Pilot School
    Test Pilot School
    There are several test pilot schools and around the world, formed after the example of the original Empire Test Pilots' School in the UK. All have similar missions: to train already experienced pilots to test new and experimental aircraft. Many test pilot school graduates in the U.S...

    , a list of schools
  • The Right Stuff
    The Right Stuff (book)
    The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar experiments with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the first Project Mercury astronauts selected for the NASA space program...

    by Tom Wolfe
    Tom Wolfe
    Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

  • List of Russian test pilots

External links

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