Former U-2 pilot passes away

Message posted by Peter Merlin on January 06, 2015 at 14:11:58 PST:

Thomas C. McMurty passed away last Saturday. A former U.S. Navy pilot and graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, MD, McMurtry was recruited into the CIA's U-2 program and received his first U-2 checkout flight in January 1965. He was assigned to Detachment G at Edwards AFB North Base where he was involved with testing various systems and upgrades including an in-flight refueling capability to give the U-2 greater range.

McMurtry joined the NASA Flight Research Center (now known as Armstrong Flight Research Center) in 1967. He was a project pilot on some of the most significant flight research projects in the center's history during his 32-year tenure, including the AD-1 oblique wing program, the F-15 Digital Electronic Engine Control project, the KC-135 winglets and the F-8 Supercritical Wing program for which he received NASA's Exceptional Service Medal. He also served as co-project pilot on a number of other flight research efforts, including the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire program and the X-24B lifting body, and also flew the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft when it ferried space shuttles across the country. He made one familiarization flight in the triple-sonic YF-12A.

McMurtry also served the center as chief of the Flight Crew Branch, Director for Flight Operations and Associate Director for Operations and Acting Chief Engineer prior to his retirement in June 1999. McMurtry logged more than 15,000 hours of flight time throughout his lengthy career, including 4,000 hours recorded while flying for two private aviation firms for 12 years after his retirement from NASA. He was honored by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots with its Iven Kincheloe Award for his work on the AD-1 program in 1982, was enshrined in the Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster, California in 1998, and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1999 prior to his retirement from NASA. Last October, he was honored by the Federal Aviation Administration with the presentation of the agency's Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award during a ceremony in Palmdale, California.


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