F-86 Record Setting Pilot Dies

Retired Maj. Gen. Fred J. Ascani, who flew the F-86E to a new world airspeed record in 1951, died March 28. He was 92 and suffered from lung cancer, reports the Washington Post. Ascani graduated from the US Military Academy in 1941 and flying training in 1942. He flew 52 combat missions as commander of the 816th Bombardment Squadron. Following the war, he served in flight test assignments, first at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and then at Edwards AFB, Calif. He flew some 50 different research aircraft, including the X-1 and XF-92. In 1951, he became vice commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards. He served in various senior command and staff assignments, and in 1961 became B-70 system program director. His last assignment before retiring in 1973 was as senior Air Force member for the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group at the Pentagon. (Also see Gathering of Eagles biography)