July 23, 1964: Col Yeager - New Aerospace Research Pilot School Commandant

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  • ARPS

Colonel Charles E. Yeager became Commandant of the United States Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School following an assignment at Edwards Air Force Base as Deputy Director of Flight Test.

As long as the United States has had military airplanes, it has needed skilled test pilots. In the very earliest days, the nation's entire air force consisted of two Wright biplanes and a handful of officers and men in the tiny Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. These stalwart airmen did their own testing and maintenance, and often taught each other how to fly. World War I, and the sudden realization that European nations were far ahead in aeronautics, speedily brought an end to this comfortable arrangement.

This movement came to full term on Oct. 12, 1961, when the Test Pilot School was redesignated the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School . Now the curriculum expanded to a full year. U.S. military pilots who were admitted to the nation's first formal astronaut training course found that the school's traditional performance and flying qualities curriculum was now only the prelude to a rigorous array of space-related courses, such as thermodynamics, bioastronautics, and Newtonian mechanics. New and up-to-date aircraft began to appear on the flight line, and advanced computer systems were acquired. The first-of-its-kind T-27 Spaceflight Simulator became the keystone of the new curriculum, replicating nearly all of the sights, sounds and sensations to be encountered in a variety of space missions and vehicles. To train the students in out-ofatmosphere maneuvering and reentry problems, three F-104 Starfighters were converted to NF-104s; a rocket engine in the tail permitted zoom climbs above 100,000 feet, an altitude where reaction control jets must be used instead of conventional control surfaces.

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