Commandants of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School

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USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California

The commanding officer of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS) is known as its Commandant. The commandant manages the school which is a military unit that operates in a distinctly academic atmosphere.[1] The position is usually held by a colonel selected by the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) commander although this authority may be delegated to the commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC).[2] The commandant oversees all flying training, academic instruction, budgeting, and curriculum administration at the school.[3] The commandant also chairs a board of officers that selects the school's students. The selection board consists of flight test squadron commanders with a majority of the board members being TPS graduates.[4] Every three years, the commandant conducts a review of the school's curriculum with participation from flight test squadrons, the U.S. Naval TPS, and operational squadrons.[3]

The school's mission is to produce experimental test pilots, flight test engineers, and flight test navigators to lead and conduct test and evaluation of aerospace weapon systems.[5] The school was established on September 9, 1944 as the Flight Test Training Unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Dayton, Ohio.[6] To take advantage of the uncongested skies and superb flying weather, the school was moved on February 4, 1951 to its present location at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert of Southern California.[6] Edwards AFB is the home of the Air Force Flight Test Center and has been an integral part of flight testing for over fifty years.[7]

Between 1962 and 1972, the Test Pilot School expanded its role to include astronaut training for military test pilots.[8] Thirty-seven TPS graduates of this era were selected for the U.S. space program, and twenty-six went on to earn astronaut's wings by flying in the X-15, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs.[9] Although the school no longer trains astronauts, many TPS graduates since 1972 have been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for duties in space. The school encourages applications from civilians, personnel from other U.S. military services, and individuals from foreign countries.[10] An exchange program allows selected students to attend other test pilot schools including the United States Naval Test Pilot School, the United Kingdom's Empire Test Pilots' School, and France's EPNER.[11]

Commandants[edit]

The following list provides a complete list of commandants of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. The table contains their name, rank, dates as commandant, the TPS class from which they graduated (if applicable), and notable events that occurred during their tenure at the school.

Key[edit]

Rank Military rank The rank shown is at the time the individual served as commandant.
Class Year/Letter The year and order in which a class started. For example, 07A was the first of two classes to start in 2007.[12]
Roman Numeral Four Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) classes designated I, II, III, and IV, that prepared students for manned spaceflight operations. These classes were dropped when the USAF lost its manned spaceflight mission.[13]
Events "introduced" Indicates an aircraft type was first made available for use by TPS students. This date is usually much later than the aircraft entered USAF service.

List of Commandants[edit]

Steve Cameron
Jim Doolittle, III
Ralph Hoewing
Lars Hoffman
George Ka'iliwai III
Michael Kostelnik
Mike Luallen
Noel Zamot

  *   Individual was killed in an aviation-related accident.

No Name Rank From To Class Notable events during tenure Ref
1 Ralph C. Hoewing O-04Maj. 1944-09Sep 1944 1945-01Jan 1945 n/a [14]
[15]
[16]
2 "Dick" Muehlberg O-05Lt. Col. 1945-01Jan 1945 1946-01Jan 1946 n/a [14]
[17]
3 Ralph C. Hoewing O-04Maj. 1946-01Jan 1946 1947-05May 1947 n/a
  • Curriculum expanded to include Stability and Control testing
[17]
[18]
4 Leonard I. Wiehrdt O-04Maj. 1947-05May 1947 1947-10Oct 1947 1946-0446D
  • Aug 1947—F-80 introduced
[17]
[18]
5 Leo C. Moon O-05Lt. Col. 1947-10Oct 1947 1949-10Oct 1949 1947-0147
  • 47—First USAF class. First class to fly jets
  • School renamed Air Material Command Experimental Test Pilot School
[17]
[19]
[20]
6 Chilstrom, KenKen Chilstrom O-04Maj. 1949-10Oct 1949 1950-10Oct 1950 1945-0145
  • 50C—Last class at Wright Field
[21]
[22]
7 John R. Amann O-05Lt. Col. 1950-10Oct 1950 1956-05May 1956 1949-0449D
  • Feb 4, 1951—School moved to Edwards AFB (south base)
  • 51A—First class held at Edwards AFB
  • May 1951—T-28, B-26 introduced
  • Apr 2, 1951—School renamed Air Research and Development Command Experimental Test Pilot School
  • Jan 1, 1953—School renamed USAF Experimental Test Pilot School
  • 1953—T-33, F-84 introduced
  • Jun 9, 1955—School renamed USAF Flight Test School
  • Mar 14, 1956—School moved to main base building 1220
  • 1956—F-86, F-100 introduced
[22]
[23]
[24]
8 Herbert V. Leonhardt O-05Lt. Col. 1956-05May 1956 1959-06Jun 1959 1955-0355C
  • Jul 3, 1956—School emblem approved
  • Jun 17, 1957—First student field trip overseas
  • 1957—NB-57 introduced
  • Curriculum expanded from six to eight months
  • Number of classes per year reduced from four to three
  • 1958—TF-102 introduced
[25]
[26]
9 Richard C. Lathrop O-04Maj. 1959-06Jun 1959 1961-06Jun 1961 1955-0455D
  • 60B—US Army helicopter test pilot course
  • UH-1, F-104 introduced
[27]
[28]
10 Robert M. Howe O-05Lt. Col. 1961-06Jun 1961 1962-07Jul 1962 1949-0449D, 52B
  • Jun 5, 1961—Aerospace Research Pilot Course introduced
  • 1961—T-27 space flight simulator introduced
  • Oct 12, 1961—School renamed USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School
  • Late 1962—T-38 introduced
[28]
[29]
[30]
[31]
11 Yeager, Charles E.Charles E. Yeager O-06Col. 1962-07Jul 1962 1966-07Jul 1966 1946-0346C, 51A [28]
[32]
[33]
12 Robert S. Buchanan O-06Col. 1966-07Jul 1966 1967-05May 1967 1957-0157A, I [32]
[34]
13 Deatrick Jr., Eugene P.Eugene P. Deatrick Jr. O-06Col. 1967-05May 1967 1968-06Jun 1968 1951-0151A, 53C [32]
[34]
14 George D. Hendrix O-05Lt. Col. 1968-06Jun 1968 1968-08Aug 1968 1957-0157A
  • n/a
[34]
15 Harold W. Christian, Jr. O-06Col. 1968-08Aug 1968 1971-01Jan 1971 1952-0352C [34]
[35]
16 William J. Campbell O-06Col. 1971-01Jan 1971 1971-07Jul 1971 1962-0362C, IV
  • ARPS courses eliminated
[13]
[36]
17 Aldrin, Edwin E. "Buzz"Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin O-06Col. 1971-07Jul 1971 1972-02Feb 1972 n/a
  • Systems Test Phase introduced
[35]
[36]
18 Joseph A. Guthrie, Jr. O-06Col. 1972-02Feb 1972 1975-07Jul 1975 1958-0358C
  • Jul 1, 1972—School renamed USAF Test Pilot School
  • RF-4 introduced
  • Feb 26, 1973—Flight test engineer course initiated
  • Calspan NT-33, NKC-135 introduced
  • 74B—First student navigator and first female student flight test engineer
  • Sep 1, 1975—Course expanded from 44 to 46 weeks
[36]
[37]
19 Warwick H. Glasgow O-06Col. 1975-07Jul 1975 1977-12Dec 1977 1965-0365C [37]
[38]
20 Donald T. Ward O-06Col. 1978-01Jan 1978 1979-06Jun 1979 n/a
  • May 19, 1979—Boyd Hall dedicated
[37]
[38]
[39]
21 Larry G. Van Pelt O-05Lt. Col. 1979-06Jun 1979 1979-08Aug 1979 1966-0166A
  • n/a
[37]
[38]
22 Norman L. Suits O-06Col. 1979-08Aug 1979 1980-06Jun 1980 1968-0168A
  • n/a
[37]
[38]
23 Donald E. Madonna* O-06Col. 1980-06Jun 1980 1982-03Mar 1982 1966-0166A [37]
[40]
[41]
24 Michael E. Sexton O-05Lt. Col. 1982-03Mar 1982 1982-07Jul 1982 1969-0169A [40]
[42]
25 Kenneth E. Staten O-06Col. 1982-07Jul 1982 1983-08Aug 1983 1968-0168A
  • n/a
[42]
[43]
26 Melvin Hayashi O-06Col. 1983-08Aug 1983 1985-07Jul 1985 1972-0272B
  • Calspan Avionics Systems Test and Training Aircraft (ASTTA) NC-131 introduced
[44]
[45]
27 Michael D. Marks O-06Col. 1985-07Jul 1985 1987-03Mar 1987 1975-0175A
  • Dec 5, 1986—Scobee Auditorium dedicated
[44]
[45]
28 Michael C. Kostelnik O-06Col. 1987-03Mar 1987 1989-07Jul 1989 1977-0177A
  • 88B—First female student test pilot enrolled
  • Integrated Flight Data Acquisition System (IFDAPS) introduced
[42]
[44]
[46]
[47]
29 Elton T. Pollock O-06Col. 1989-07Jul 1989 1991-06Jun 1991 1976-0276B
  • First USAF Reservist joined TPS staff
  • Test management phase added to curriculum
  • C-23 introduced
[45]
[48]
[49]
30 Gardner, Guy S.Guy S. Gardner O-06Col. 1991-06Jun 1991 1992-08Aug 1992 1975-0175A [48]
[50]
[51]
31 Harold T. Strittmatter O-06Col. 1992-08Aug 1992 1994-04Apr 1994 1981-0281B [48]
[50]
32 James H. Doolittle III O-06Col. 1994-04Apr 1994 1996-08Aug 1996 1979-0279B
  • Sep 9, 1994—50th anniversary of USAF Test Pilot School
  • 95B—First class to use individual student cubicles and Pentium laptops
  • T-2, NF-16D Variable-Stability Inflight Simulator Test Aircraft (VISTA), F-15E introduced
[45]
[48]
[50]
[49]
33 Barton E. Henwood O-06Col. 1996-08Aug 1996 1998-04Apr 1998 1984-0184A
  • NT-39 introduced
  • First students to visit Russia's Air Force Flight Test Facility
[45]
[52]
[53]
34 Steve Cameron O-06Col. 1998-04Apr 1998 2001-01Jan 2001 1985-0285B
  • Students expand envelope of AGM-65 Maverick missile
  • Students test crash avoidance system
[54]
[55]
[56]
35 George Ka'iliwai III O-06Col. 2001-01Jan 2001 2003-06Jun 2003 1984-0284B
  • First flight test engineer and non-rated TPS Commandant
  • First TPS sponsorship of AFIT doctoral program
[57]
[58]
[59]
[60]
36 Ernie H. Haendschke O-06Col. 2003-06Jun 2003 2005-07Jul 2005 1987-0287B
  • 2003—Aerospace Vehicle Test Course introduced
  • Nov 18, 2003—TPS receives Richard G. Cross Award from ITEA
  • June 15, 2004—Pete Knight classroom dedicated
[61]
[62]
[63]
[64]
[65]
[66]
37 Andre A. Gerner O-06Col. 2005-07Jul 2005 2007-07Jul 2007 1991-0191A
  • 06B—First husband and wife team graduates
  • Process begins to make TPS a Master of Science Program
[67]
[68]
[69]
38 Mike Luallen O-06Col. 2007-07Jul 2007 2010-07Jul 2010 1992-0292B [67]
[69]
[70]
[71]
[72]
39 Noel Zamot O-06Col. 2010-07Jul 2010 2012-06Jun 2012 1993-0293B [73]
[74]
[75]
[76]
[77]
[78]
40 Paul Meyer O-06Col. 2012-06Jun 2012 2012-08Aug 2012 n/a
  • First commandant from the Air Force Reserves
  • First non-TPS graduate to serve as commandant since Buzz Aldrin
[79]
[80]
41 Lars Hoffman O-06Col. 2012-08Aug 2012 2012-08Present 1993-0297A
  • Classroom renovations
  • Modernized Systems curriculum
[79]
[81]
[82]

Notable alumni[edit]

USAF TPS has produced many notable alumni including astronauts, record-setting aviators, and senior Air Force leaders.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ USAF TPS Graduate Course Catalog. p. 14. 
  2. ^ Air Force Instruction 99-107, Test Pilot School. p. 7. 
  3. ^ a b Air Force Instruction 99-107, Test Pilot School. p. 8. 
  4. ^ Air Force Instruction 99-107, Test Pilot School. p. 11. 
  5. ^ USAF TPS Graduate Course Catalog. p. 9. 
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School History". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  7. ^ "Edwards Air Force Base". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  8. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 233. 
  9. ^ Young, J. Forging Aerospace Power for America. pp. 3–4. 
  10. ^ USAF TPS Graduate Course Catalog. p. 19. 
  11. ^ USAF TPS Graduate Course Catalog. p. 18. 
  12. ^ USAF TPS Graduate Course Catalog. p. 8. 
  13. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 50. 
  14. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 35–36. 
  15. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 240. 
  16. ^ "Colonel Hoewing is New NRD Executive" (PDF). The Missileer (Washington, D.C.: United States Air Force) 5 (22): 1. 1966-04-07. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  17. ^ a b c d USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 241. 
  18. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 38. 
  19. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 40. 
  20. ^ Lopez. Fighter Pilot's Heaven. p. 129. 
  21. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 69. 
  22. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 242. 
  23. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 41–45. 
  24. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 70. 
  25. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 43–46. 
  26. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 243. 
  27. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 45. 
  28. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 244. 
  29. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 47–48. 
  30. ^ Allen. Space Flight Simulator. pp. 793–9. 
  31. ^ Burgess. Fallen Astronauts. p. 13. 
  32. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 48–50. 
  33. ^ Marrett. Contrails Over the Mojave. pp. 59–64. 
  34. ^ a b c d USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 245. 
  35. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 50–51. 
  36. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 246. 
  37. ^ a b c d e f USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 51–53. 
  38. ^ a b c d USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 247. 
  39. ^ "Ward Biography". Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  40. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 248. 
  41. ^ "An Abbreviated History of the Class of 1959". United States Air Force Academy Association of Graduates. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  42. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 52–54. 
  43. ^ "Staten Biography". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  44. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 249. 
  45. ^ a b c d e USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 54. 
  46. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 57. 
  47. ^ "Kostelnik Biography". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  48. ^ a b c d USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 250. 
  49. ^ a b USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. pp. 58–59. 
  50. ^ a b c USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 55. 
  51. ^ "Gardner Biography". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  52. ^ USAF Test Pilot School 50 Years and Beyond. p. 251. 
  53. ^ "Test Pilot School visits Russia". United States Air Force. 1997-05-27. Archived from the original on 2001-05-23. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  54. ^ "Simulator lets students pilot variety of aircraft". Airman Magazine Online. United States Air Force. February 2001. Archived from the original on 2001-03-12. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  55. ^ "Student test pilots tackle real projects". Desert Wings. United States Air Force. March 1999. Archived from the original on 2001-05-23. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  56. ^ Sturim, Captain James (2000-11-03). "Class project tests crash avoidance system". Desert Wings. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2001-05-10. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  57. ^ "AIAA Ka'iliwai Biography" (PDF). AIAA Distinguished Lecture Program 2005. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 40. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  58. ^ "USAF Ka'iliwai Biography". Edwards Air Force Base. Archived from the original on 2003-01-06. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  59. ^ Doner, Master Sgt. Stefanie (2001-03-21). "Test Pilot School commandant has Edwards and flight test in his blood". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2001-05-06. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  60. ^ Hague, Capt. Catie (2003-07-18). "TPS sponsors AFIT doctoral program, searches for applicants". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2003-10-04. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  61. ^ "Haendschke Biography" (PDF). Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. Retrieved 2008-07-02. [dead link]
  62. ^ "USAF TPS". Edwards Air Force Base. Archived from the original on 2005-07-14. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  63. ^ "New Test Pilot School Commandant". United States Air Force. 2003-06-13. Archived from the original on 2003-06-26. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  64. ^ Hague, Capt. Catie (2003-08-01). "Test Pilot School reaches new heights with space test course". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2003-10-13. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  65. ^ Hague, Capt. Catie (2003-11-21). "U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School wins ITEA award". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2003-12-06. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  66. ^ Davis, Second Lt. Brooke (2004-06-18). "TPS dedicates classroom to honor late aviation legend". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2006-07-26. Retrieved 2010-03-18. 
  67. ^ a b "'Tench hut". Edwards Air Force Base. 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  68. ^ Perry, Della (2007-06-04). "U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School graduates 146th class". Edwards Air Force Base. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  69. ^ a b Reyes, Julius Delos (2008-06-11). "TPS confers its first master's degrees". Edwards Air Force Base. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  70. ^ Taylor, Annamaria (2008-06-10). "USAF Test Pilot School graduates class 07B". Edwards Air Force Base. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  71. ^ "AFPC accepting applications for test pilot school". Edwards Air Force Base. 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  72. ^ Thuloweit, Kenji (2010-03-30). "USAF Test Pilot School Honors Major Graziano". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  73. ^ Thuloweit, Kenji (2010-07-07). "Test Pilot School Welcomes New Commandant". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  74. ^ Hennigan, W. J. (2011-02-09). "Nation's first drone test pilot trainee has the right-click stuff". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  75. ^ "Two RPA pilots graduate top of class at test pilot school". United States Air Force. 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  76. ^ Mowry, Laura (2012-04-25). "USAF TPS graduates first ever Enlisted Flight Test Course". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  77. ^ Mowry, Laura (2012-05-14). "USAF TPS teaches students to fly, fight, win in cyberspace". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  78. ^ Mowry, Laura (2012-06-20). "TPS commandant bids farewell to Edwards, retires after 25 years of service". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  79. ^ a b Mowry, Laura (2012-08-08). "TPS welcomes new commandant". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  80. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (2012-07-12). "Getting schooled with the Air Force's elite test pilots". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-08-10. 
  81. ^ Mowry, Laura (2012-11-02). "Classroom renovations keep TPS students on cutting-edge". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  82. ^ Mowry, Laura (2013-03-07). "Test Pilot School modernizes Systems curriculum". United States Air Force. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]