William Randolph Lovelace II
He studied medicine at the Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1934. His residences were served at New York's Bellevue Hospital and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He then went to Europe for further study.
Having an interest in aviation, he became Flight Surgeon with the rank of First Lieutenant in Army Medical Corps Reserve. He began studying the problems of high-altitude flight, and in 1938 the Aeromedical Field Laboratory located at Wright Field requested him to develop an oxygen-mask for use in high-altitude aircraft.
It was in 1940 that he first met Jacqueline Cochran, a female pilot who held three women's speed records. The two would form a lifelong friendship. With her influence Dr. Lovelace gained government funding for an aviation medicine program.
During World War II he served in the Air Force. He personally performed experiments in escape and the use of the parachute at high-altitude. On 24 June 1943 he bailed out of an aircraft flying at 40,200 feet. After the parachute opened he was knocked unconscious, and he suffered frostbite when his gloves were ripped off. For this test he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
His wife Mary had two sons, but both died of polio in 1946. The couple also had three daughters. In 1947 he helped establish the Lovelace Medical Foundation, currently known as the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, in Albuquerque, and became the chairman of the Board of Governors. He used this clinic to promote the development of medical aerospace technology.
In 1958 he was appointed the chairman of the NASA Special Advisory Committee on Life Science. As head of NASA's Life Sciences, he would then play a key role in the selection of the astronauts chosen for the Mercury program missions. In 1959 he also began examinations to determine the physical suitability of women candidates for the astronaut training program. In 1964 he was appointed NASA’s Director of Space Medicine.
While Dr. Lovelace and his wife were flying in a private plane near Aspen, Colorado, their pilot became disoriented and flew into a blind canyon. Three people were killed in the crash, including the doctor and his wife.