Monday, March 11, 2013

Working for the "Lightweight Fighter Mafia"

I was an experimental test pilot
by David P.

I was one of the experimental test pilots who helped develop the F-16. I was very fortunate to have accumulated the requisite test flying background (from the United States Navy) at precisely the time (1977) that General Dynamics was in search of a few new test pilots. This was at the start of the airplane's full-scale development.

Another Naval Academy classmate of mine, Jim McKinney, also joined the company within a month of my arrival. Phil Oestricher, Neil Anderson and Dave Thigpen were the "old hands" at the time we arrived. The vast majority of the experimental and developmental work was accomplished within a Combined Test Force (United States Air Force and General Dynamics) at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to fly such a wonderful fighting machine. I have so many great memories. Later on, Jim and I both had the opportunity to demonstrate the F-16 worldwide at various airshows, including Paris and Farnborough. All great, good fun to show the world the "greatest fighter flying!"