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Chapter 4 - Approach to Space
click on the links below for more of the story...
i. Test Pilots & Operations - ii. Experimental Testing - iii. F5-A Freedom Fighter - iv. Variable Dynamics - NF-101A -
v. Anchors Aweigh - vi. Two Strakes - One Strike! - vii. Whirlybirds, Spinning Wings? - viii. The Rest of the Story

F5-A Freedom Fighter

I was to be the test pilot for the F-5 program which continued until my last month of my tour of duty at Edwards exactly two years and two months later, a great time for flying experience and enjoyment!  The flights in the F-5 were sporadic and typical performance, stability and control testing.     


The F-5 was a spin-off of the T-38 jet trainer, based on a company funded N-156 fighter for NATO countries, which Bud Evans had tested.  The project got me back into performance and stability flights like I had learned to do in the test pilot school some years before, but its availability to me was very sporadic and I got limited time in it.  Quite frankly, the stick forces per g were far too great for my preference on a tactical fighter and meant performance sacrifices that made it easier and safer for pilots with little experience, as I suppose was the case in some of our world wide Allies’ Air Forces. 


Bud is a unique guy, with a heart of gold and a memory of the first thing that ever happened to him and all the people that called him “friend” and those number in the hundreds, at least.  Bud was assigned to fly a straight-wing F-84 into each of the nuclear bomb blasts at Eniweetok Atoll.  They put Geiger counters on him to check the radiation dosage after each flight. Then took them off for checks after the first blast but never divulged the results then or on his subsequent encounters with the atomic clouds. The mission resulted in miscalculations by scientists that put him far deeper into the blast than expected which broke the main wing-spar of the F-84, designed for max g of 7.33 in operation but fortunately had margin, good to far more before structure should fail.  Later, Bud noticed a significant mole and was diagnosed with Melanoma.  He had to sweat-out the first 5 years, after serious surgical procedures to remove numerous glands gave him some hope.  He returned to flight status after his treatments and is still going strong, in fact he has been a prime organizer of one of the top annual air shows in America at TICO Airport, near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Russ Rogers

Hank Gordon

Our Test Operations, at Edwards, which was on the flight line had an area which included a ping-pong table and room for cards and Acey-Ducey (Backgammon).  I think Russ Rogers was the king of Ping-Pong and would pick Hank Gordon or Bob Rushworth for the backgammon czar


Gaming accounts were perpetual with the pilots and were settled fully upon transfer. 


We had Flight Safety meetings requiring the attendance of all our test pilots.  One such meeting was on a day that actor/comedian Danny Kaye came up from L.A. to get a ride in the F-104 and go to Mach 2.  After his flight, Danny decided to sit in on the safety meeting and spent a few minutes talking to the people who were to give safety presentations, then he volunteered to do their jobs.  The man was unbelievable.  He broke everyone in the room up with a fabulous unrehearsed comedy routine, which covered correctly and succinctly every point that had been intended for the usually droll meeting.  After he returned home, we received a new, and I might add first rate Ping Pong table.