Space

May 7, 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.


 
 

 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 

News Briefs February 27, 2015

Ukraine will start pulling back heavy weapons in the east Ukraine’s military says it will start pulling back its heavy weapons from the front line with Russian-backed separatists as required under a cease-fire agreement. The Defense Ministry said in a statement Feb. 26 that it reserved the right to revise its withdrawal plans in the...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 

 
navy-china

USS Fort Worth conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572) Feb. 23 enhancing the professional ma...
 
 

AEGIS tracks, simulates engagement of three short-range ballistic missiles

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system. At approximately 2:30 a.m., EST, Feb. 26, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA’s Wallops...
 
 

DOD seeks novel ideas to shape its technological future

The Defense Department is seeking novel ideas to shape its future, and officials are looking to industry, small business, academia, start-ups, the public – anyone, really – to boost its ability to prevail against adversaries whose access to technology grows daily. The program, called the Long-Range Research and Development Plan, or LRRDP, began with an...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>