Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJS, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark 'Forger' Stucky as pilot.
Stucky will join Virgin Galactic's commercial flight team responsible for flying WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo: Chief Pilot Dave Mackay and pilots Frederick 'CJ' Sturckow, Michael 'Sooch' Masucci, and Todd 'Leif' Ericson, who is also Virgin Galactic's Safety and Testing Vice President. His first day with Virgin Galactic is February 2.
Stucky brings valued hands-on experience with Virgin Galactic's fleet of vehicles having served in a number of roles in Scaled Composites' WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo development program, ranging from engineering test pilot for both vehicles to technical adviser, design engineer, instructor pilot, project pilot and mentor.
During his tenure at Scaled, Stucky flew the majority of SpaceShipTwo's envelope expansion flights and initiated its powered rocket motor test flight phase as pilot in command on the spaceship's first powered flight. He also served as project pilot and instructor in the transition and integration of WhiteKnightTwo from Scaled to Virgin Galactic's commercial operations team, led by Vice President of Operations Mike Moses.
An accomplished military and government test pilot, Stucky has flown flight tests for the US Marine Corp, US Navy, US Air Force, NASA and international partners. He has logged over 9,000 flight hours in over 170 different models of aircraft ranging from the light and slow (blimps and paragliders) to the heavy (C-5M Super Galaxy) to the high and fast (SR-71 Blackbird). He also brings commercial aviation experience as a former United Airlines pilot.
Stucky has received numerous flight test awards including the Society of Experimental Pilot's prestigious Iven C. Kincheloe award, awarded annually to the Society's test pilot of the year, and its Ray E. Tenhoff Award, which recognizes the most outstanding technical paper presented at its annual symposium. He was named the US Air Force Test Pilot of the year in 2006.
Stucky is currently the President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. Last year he was inducted as a Fellow, an honor bestowed annually to those who have served with distinction in flight test.
Stucky began his aviation career at age 15 by teaching himself to hang glide in the flint hills of Kansas. He holds a bachelor's degree in physical science from Kansas State University and a master's degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee. He is the co-author of the book "Paragliding — a Pilot's Training Manual."
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said, "We are pleased that Forger will add his extraordinary capabilities to the extraordinary individuals who make up Virgin Galactic's distinguished pilot corps. Through the years, Forger has demonstrated unwavering support for our program, and we look forward to his continued contributions as we progress through flight test and into commercial service."
Scaled Composites President Kevin Mickey said, "The aerospace and test pilot community at large have benefited greatly from Forger's outstanding contributions as project and instructor pilot for SpaceShipTwo, WhiteKnightTwo, Proteus, and Scaled Composite's many other unique prototype aircraft. While he will be missed by all of us at Scaled, we applaud and support Forger's decision to see the Virgin Galactic program through. It shows his commitment to the work of the Scaled team and our companies' shared vision of the future of spaceflight."
Stucky said, "It is an honor for me to join the Virgin Galactic team on the home stretch of the flight test program and help turn Sir Richard's vision of the first commercial spaceline into reality. I firmly believe the success of this program will go beyond fulfilling the dreams of our astronaut customers but will lay the foundation for follow-on technologies that will benefit mankind in ways we may not yet fathom."