World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Test pilot

Article Id: WHEBN0000626868
Reproduction Date:

Title: Test pilot  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Frank Borman, Gus Grissom, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Jack Swigert, Bill Bedford
Collection: Test Pilots
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Test pilot

Eugène Lefebvre, test pilot and world's first pilot to be killed in an accident while flying a powered aircraft in 1909
Léon Lemartin, The world's first test pilot,[1] under contract to Louis Blériot in 1910.

A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques[2] or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated.

Test pilots may work for aerospace) companies. Testing military aircraft, in particular, is regarded as the most challenging and risky flying conducted in peacetime.

In the 1950s, test pilots were being killed at the rate of about one a week, but the risks have shrunk to a fraction of that, thanks to the maturation of aircraft technology, better ground-testing and simulation of aircraft performance, fly by wire technology and lately, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to test experimental aircraft features. Still, piloting experimental aircraft remains more dangerous than most other types of flying.


  • Qualifications 1
  • History 2
  • Notable test pilots 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


A test pilot must be able to:

  • Understand a test plan;
  • Stick to a test plan, flying a plane in a highly specific way;
  • Carefully document the results of each test;
  • Have an excellent feel for the aircraft, and sense exactly how it is behaving oddly if it is doing so;
  • Solve problems quickly if anything goes wrong with the aircraft during a test;
  • Cope with many different things going wrong at once.
  • Effectively communicate flight test observations to engineers and relate engineering results to the pilot community, thus bridging the gap between those who design and build aircraft with those who employ the aircraft to accomplish a mission.

Test pilots must have an excellent knowledge of aeronautical engineering, in order to understand how and why planes are tested. They must be above-average pilots with excellent analytical skills and the ability to fly accurately whilst following a flight plan.

Test pilots can be experimental test pilots (investigating the characteristics of new types of aircraft during development) or production test pilots (the more mundane role of confirming the characteristics of new aircraft as they come off the production line); many test pilots would perform both roles during their careers.


Test flying as a systematic activity started during the First World War, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) in the United Kingdom. An "Experimental Flight" was formed at the Central Flying School. During the 1920s, test flying was further developed by the RAE in the UK, and by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in the United States. In the 1950s, NACA was transformed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. During these years, as work was done into aircraft stability and handling qualities, test flying evolved towards a more qualitative scientific profession.

The world's oldest test pilot school is what is now called the Empire Test Pilots' School (motto "Learn to Test - Test to Learn"), at RAF Boscombe Down in the UK. In America, the United States Air Force Test Pilot School is located at Edwards Air Force Base, the United States Naval Test Pilot School is located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and EPNER (Ecole du Personnel Navigant d'Essai et de Reception - "School for flight test and acceptance personnel"), the French test pilot school, is located in Istres, France. The only civilian school in the United States is the National Test Pilot School, a not-for-profit educational institute located in Mojave, California.

Notable test pilots

Brigadier General Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager, pictured with his history-making X-1, was the first pilot known to have broken the sound barrier.

Some notable test pilots include:

Francis Evans (USMC), explored the best way to recover from spins, 1917
Flight Captain Erich Warsitz - the world's first jet pilot

Awards made to notable test pilots include the international Iven C. Kincheloe Award made by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

See also


  1. ^ Léon Lemartin (Ai. 1899)
  2. ^ Stinton, Darrol. Flying Qualities and Flight Testing of the Airplane. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1996, p. 265
  3. ^ Léon Lemartin (Ai. 1899)
  4. ^ Mason 1991, p.333.
  5. ^ Warsitz, Lutz: (p. 125), Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009THE FIRST JET PILOT - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz
  6. ^
  7. ^
  • Hallion, Richard P.Test Pilots: Frontiersmen of Flight. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0874745498
  • Warsitz, Lutz: THE FIRST JET PILOT - The Story of German Test Pilot Erich Warsitz, Pen and Sword Books Ltd., England, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84415-818-8

External links

  • The Society of Experimental Test Pilots
  • Society of Flight Test Engineers
  • Empire Test Pilots School, United Kingdom
  • National Test Pilot School, Mojave, California
  • U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California
  • U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, NAS Patuxent River, Maryland
  • Memorial website for test pilots who died in flying accidents in the UK
  • list of display and test pilots at 1957 Farnborough air showFlight
  • Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, Canadian Flight Test Centre
  • Indian Air Force Test Pilots School, Bangalore
  • The Scott Crossfield Foundation
  • website on Erich Warsitz (world’s first jet pilot)
  • Oficial European test for pilots
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.