Veterans

May 9, 2014

Renowned NASA research pilot William H. Dana dies

In this classic photo from Nov. 30, 1968, NASA research pilot Bill Dana takes a moment to watch NASA’s NB-52B mothership launch aircraft cruise overhead after Dana piloted the HL-10 lifting body to a landing on the bed of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., after a research flight.

One of the nation’s most respected aerospace pioneers has passed away. Distinguished research pilot and aeronautical engineer William Harvey Dana died on May 6, 2014 after a lengthy illness.

Dana’s long and illustrious career at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center spanned more than 48 years, during which Dana logged more than 8,000 hours in over 60 different aircraft from helicopters and sailplanes to the hypersonic X-15. Several of the airplanes he flew are displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Following four years in the Air Force, Dana was hired as an aeronautical research engineer at the NASA High-Speed Flight Station – now NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center – on Oct. 1, 1958, the very same day that NASA was established. His first assignments included development of a rudimentary performance simulator for the X-15 rocket plane and stability and control research involving the F-107A fighter prototype.

In September 1959 he transferred to the center’s Flight Operations Branch as a research pilot. Over the next three decades he conducted flight experiments in a wide variety of aircraft including the rocket powered X-15 and the wingless lifting bodies. Dana flew to the edge of space in the X-15, attaining a maximum speed of Mach 5.53 (3,897 mph) and a maximum altitude of 306,900 feet (nearly 59 miles). He was then assigned to fly the HL-10, M2-F3, and X-24B lifting bodies to validate engineers’ assertions that such vehicles could be precisely controlled during approach and landing, and providing NASA with the confidence needed to proceed with designs for the space shuttle orbiter.

Retired NASA research test pilot Bill Dana was all smiles when he was awarded civilian astronaut wings during a 2005 ceremony for his flights above 50 miles altitude in the X-15 rocket plane in the 1960s.

In addition he flew hundreds of research flights in advanced jet fighters including the F-14, F-15, F-16, and YF-17.He performed a guest pilot evaluation of the X-29 forward-swept-wing technology demonstrator and flew the pioneering F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle, the first aircraft to use multi-axis thrust vectoring for vehicle control.Because of his demonstrated leadership and extraordinary service in flight research, Dana was appointed chief pilot in 1986 with responsibility for recruiting, developing and training the center’s cadre of research pilots. He also served as assistant chief of the Flight Operations Division.

In 1993, he retired from flying to become the center’s chief engineer. In this position, he oversaw all of the center’s research projects and was responsible for flight safety. Dana held this position until his retirement from civil service in May 1998.He returned to the center seven months later as a contractor employee with Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., to write analytical histories of various programs and to evaluate lessons learned. During a period of budget reductions, he gave up his salary and continued to work as a volunteer with the center’s history office.

Born in Pasadena, California, on Nov. 3, 1930, Dana was raised in Bakersfield, California.

NASA research test pilot Bill Dana had been on the job at the Flight Research Center for less then four years of his 48-year career with NASA when this group photo of the center’s test pilots was taken in 1962. The group included, front row from left, Milt Thompsson, Jack McKay and Dana; back row from left, Neil Armstrong, Bruce Peterson, Stan Butchart and Joe Walker.

His numerous awards and honors include the AIAA Haley Space Flight Award (1976), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1976), the Lancaster Aerospace Walk of Honor (1993), the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1997) and the Milton O. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award (2000). He was honored in the “Salute to Test Pilots” at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual convention in 1996.

Dana was awarded civilian astronaut wings on Aug. 23, 2005 for two of his X-15 flights that exceeded 50 miles altitude. That honor came nearly 40 years after the flights occurred because at the time of the X-15 program, NASA did not confer astronaut wings on its pilots.

Dana was a distinguished member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He joined the SETP in 1961 and was elected a fellow in 1998.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Understanding your Federal Employees Retirement System

Since 1987, federal civilian employees have prepared for their non-working years through FERS, the Federal Employees Retirement System. FERS, created by Congress, is a three-tiered system that provides benefits through Social Security, a FERS Basic Benefit Plan and the Thrift Savings Plan. Following retirement at the assigned age, the employee will receive annuity payments each...
 
 

In memoriam

James ‘Jim’ Thomas Doss passed away in a car accident May 19. Doss worked for the 412th Engineering Group, 412th Range Squadron, Engineering Flight, and was also retired from the U.S. Army as a sergeant first class. He served as a communications supervisor in the Army during the Desert Shield and Desert Storm campaigns, where...
 
 

Retirement

Air Force photograph Col. Rod Cregier retired May 21 at Hangar 1820. Cregier served as the F-35 program director for the 412th Test Wing, the highest profile program currently at Edwards. He was responsible for all Edwards-based support for the fifth generation fighter program. He graduated the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1985 earning honors...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Brad White

Team Edwards hosts Military Retiree Appreciation Day

Air Force photograph by Brad White Approximately 400 military retirees, their families and surviving spouses were in attendance during the 2015 Military Retiree Appreciation Day event held at the Oasis Community Center and 27 i...
 
 

Eligible Airmen may choose retirement plan at 14 1/2-year mark

The Air Force Personnel Center has developed an automatic notification process that sends a message directly to active-duty Air Force and headquarters Active Guard Reserve members when they reach 14 1/2 years of active service. The new process will help ensure eligible military members are aware of their options in choosing a retirement plan with...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara

Retiree Appreciation Day slated for May 16

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Master Sgt. Erik Robbins (right), 412th Force Support Squadron base career assistance advisor, speaks with retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas White during the 2014 Retiree Appreciation Day. E...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>