Legendary Test Pilot Dies

Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton, a highly decorated Air Force and NASA test pilot, died on Feb. 4 at the age of 89. Fulton joined the Air Force in 1943. He flew 225 Berlin Airlift missions from 1948-1949 in C-54s. During the Korean War, Fulton flew 55 combat missions in the Douglas B-26 Invader and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and five air medals for combat heroism. In 1952, Fulton graduated USAF’s Experimental Test Pilot School (later honored as the school’s first “distinguished alumnus”). He is credited as one of the “greatest multi-engine test pilot[s] of his generation” and was awarded an additional three Distringuished Flying Cross medals for his test pilot work. Fulton was chief of the Bomber Transport Operations Test Division at Edwards AFB, Calif., and was the only USAF pilot to fly the atomic-powered NB-36H, according to his profile in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He set an international altitude record of 85,360 feet flying the B-58 in 1962 and was awarded that year’s Harmon International Aviation Trophy for his work with the program. After a 23-year Air Force career, Fulton became a civilian research pilot for NASA. He participated in tests of the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, the XB-70 prototype supersonic bomber, as well as the YF-12A and YF-12C. By the time he retired from NASA in 1986, Fulton had more than 15,000 hours in over 200 types of aircraft. (For more of Air Force Magazine‘s coverage of Fulton see The Last Flight of the X-2 from the March 1957 issue.)