Famed test pilot Bruce Peterson dies

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventPeterson began his career at NASA in 1960. As a research pilot, he flew a wide variety of airplanes including the F5D-1, F-100, F-104, F-111A, B-52, NT-33A Variable Stability Trainer, and the wingless lifting bodies that researchers dubbed “flying bathtubs.” Peterson’s lifting-body work included 42 glide flights in the M2-F1 lightweight lifting body and numerous research missions in the heavier rocket-powered M2-F2 and HL-10 lifting bodies. Peterson’s May 10, 1967, crash in the M2-F2 on Rogers Dry Lake was captured on film purely by chance when an observer was testing a new video camera. Producers for the “Six Million Dollar Man,” which ran from 1974 to 1978, later obtained the film showing the aircraft tumbling across the lakebed at 250 mph. In a May 1990 interview with the Daily News, Peterson said he had no qualms about the show using the footage. “It was a pretty spectacular crash,” Peterson said. “It’s a fact of life. I don’t have any big emotional hangup about seeing it or anything. It just wasn’t one of my better days.” Despite his injuries, Peterson continued to fly NASA support missions, occasional research flights and continued his Marine Reserve flying duties until 1971. During his flying career, Peterson logged more than 6,000 flight hours in nearly 70 types of aircraft, according to NASA Dryden. After retiring from NASA in 1981, he joined Northrop’s B-2 stealth bomber program. He retired from Northrop in 1994. A native of Washburn, N.D., Peterson was born May 23, 1933. After attending the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1950 to 1953, he enlisted as a naval aviation cadet that year and was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant in 1954. He earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in 1958, and was a 1962 graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School. Peterson was a fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and 2002 recipient of the Tony LeVier Flight Safety Award. He was honored by NASA with an exceptional leadership award for his work on preparations for the first space shuttle landing at NASA Dryden in April 1981. A memorial observance in the Lancaster area for Peterson is pending.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – Retired NASA pilot Bruce Peterson, perhaps best known to the general public for surviving a spectacular crash that was used in the opening credits of the 1970s TV show “The Six Million Dollar Man,” died Monday in Laguna Niguel after a long illness. He was 72. Peterson had a 21-year career at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center that earned him induction into the city of Lancaster’s Aerospace Walk of Honor in 2003. Among the aircraft he flew was a Rogallo paraglider, which was used to study the possibility of using an inflatable wing for landing spacecraft, and wingless “lifting-body” aircraft. He recovered from his injuries from the 1967 crash of an M2-F2 “lifting body,” but was left blind in one eye by an infection acquired while he was hospitalized. last_img

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