Famed Test Pilot White Dies

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert M. White, record-setting X-15 pilot and veteran of three wars, died March 17 at age 85. White is perhaps most famous for his record-setting flights in the X-15, including, on Nov. 9, 1961, becoming the first person to fly a winged aircraft six times faster than the speed of sound (4,093 mph) and, on July 17, 1962, taking the X-15 to 59.6 miles above the Earth and in so doing earning astronaut wings. White also served in three wars, flying the P-51 in World War II, returning to active service for the Korean War, and flying 70 combat missions in the F-105 during the Vietnam War. His career spanned more than 30 years and included command of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. He retired from USAF in 1981 and, in 2006, he was among those inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. (Also read, Los Angeles Times report and Air Force Magazine’s Valor: A Place Called the Doumer Bridge from February 1988)