John B. McKay bigraphy, stories - USAF/NASA test pilot and astronaut

John B. McKay : biography

8 December 1922 - 27 April 1975

John B. McKay (December 8, 1922 – April 27, 1975) was one of the first pilots assigned to the X-15 flight research program at NASA's Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. As a civilian research pilot and aeronautical engineer, he made 30 flights in X-15s from October 28, 1960, until September 8, 1966. His peak altitude was 295,600 feet (55.98 miles), and his highest speed was 3,863 mph (Mach 5.64).

Born on December 8, 1922, in Portsmouth, Virginia, during World War II he served as a U.S. Navy pilot in the Pacific Theater, earning the Air Medal with two clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering

McKay worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and its successor, NASA, from February 8, 1951 until October 5, 1971, and specialized in high-speed flight research programs. He began as an NACA intern, but assumed pilot status on July 11, 1952. In addition to the X-15, he flew such experimental aircraft as the D-558-1, D-558-2, X-lB, and the X-lE. He has also served as a research pilot on flight programs involving the F-100, F-102, F-104, and the F-107. In 1958, McKay was selected for and would have participated in the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program, had it come to fruition.

McKay wrote several technical papers, and was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

John B. McKay died on April 27, 1975 in Lancaster, California. In 1996, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor, and in 2005 he was posthumously awarded astronaut's wings.

Awards and honors

  • Air Medal (two clusters)
  • Presidential Unit Citation
  • John J. Montgomery Award
  • National Society of Aerospace Professionals
  • Award for Achievement, National Aeronautics Association
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s Hall of Fame
  • Aerospace Walk of Honor (1996).
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