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  Bruce Peterson, NASA Test Pilot, 1933-2006

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Author Topic:   Bruce Peterson, NASA Test Pilot, 1933-2006
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-02-2006 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reports are circulating that Bruce Peterson, NASA Test Pilot, died yesterday (May 1) succumbing to illness. What follows is a biographical profile prepared by NASA Dryden:
quote:
Bruce Peterson was NASA Dryden research pilot from the early 1960s until 1967. A former US Marine Corps pilot, he joined NASA in 1960 as an aeronautical engineer.

He was one of the project pilots on the Rogallo paraglider research vehicle (Parasev) program. The Parasev 1-A and 1-B evaluated the use of an inflatable, flexible wing for the recovery of manned space vehicles, with over 100 research flights made between 1962 and 1964.

On December 3, 1963 he flew the M2-F1 Lifting Body, his first of 15 flights in these wingless research vehicles. He flew the M2-F1 ten times, and made the first flight of the HL-10 on December 22, 1966. Peterson retired from research flying after his fourth flight in the M2-F2. He lost his sight in one eye as a result of a landing accident in the aircraft on May 10, 1967.

Peterson continued at NASA Dryden as the Research Project Engineer on the Digital Fly-By-Wire program of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later assumed responsibility for Safety and Quality Assurance for Dryden.

A native of Washburn, North Dakota, Peterson was born on May 23, 1933. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles, and California State Polytechnic College at San Luis Obispo. Peterson received his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the latter in 1960.

He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.


mjanovec
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Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 05-02-2006 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was going to make a statement yesterday about bad news coming in threes, but decided not to...perhaps in hopes that it really wouldn't happen.

And now today...more sad news. Another great pilot is gone.

Godspeed Bruce Peterson!

Scott
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Posts: 3293
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 05-02-2006 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
I was going to make a statement yesterday about bad news coming in threes.....

You took the words right out of my mouth. Maybe there is something to that well-known saying.

FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 05-02-2006 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bruce was at every Lancaster-area aviation event I ever went to, whether he was part of the proceedings or simply there as another aviation-lover. Always a great guy. And like most people of my generation, I grew up watching his famous crash in the opening credits of "The Six Million Dollar Man," and was amazed that he'd survived it.

What a terrible week for losing these aviation legends.

Aztecdoug
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Posts: 1330
From: Huntington Beach
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 05-02-2006 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh to be a fly on the wall in Heaven this week... Imagine the reunion going on up there right now...

------------------
Kind Regards

Douglas Henry

Enjoy yourself and have fun.... it is only a hobby!
http://home.earthlink.net/~aztecdoug/

Astro Bill
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posted 05-02-2006 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the latest from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Peterson

And Astronautix:
http://www.astronautix.com/astros/petbruce.htm

Peterson's obituary from The Mercury News:
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/californi a/northern_california/14485059.htm

Pilot who inspired "The Six-Million Dollar Man" Dies:
http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_122234511.html

[This message has been edited by Astro Bill (edited May 02, 2006).]

CJC
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posted 05-02-2006 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CJC   Click Here to Email CJC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
.

spacegrl13
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posted 05-02-2006 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacegrl13   Click Here to Email spacegrl13     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will never forget Bruce, Scott, or Al. Three outstanding test pilots and people. Sadness that words can't describe at the moment. Godspeed!
-Helen

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-03-2006 12:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
quote:
Former NASA Dryden Flight Research Center pilot and engineer Bruce A. Peterson died May 1 in Laguna Niguel following a lengthy illness. He was 72.

Peterson retired in 1981 after a 21-year career at Dryden, much of it dedicated to work with the center's legendary research aircraft. He is best known for his pioneering work with the wingless lifting body vehicles that helped pave the way for a reusable space shuttle.

Peterson joined NASA in August 1960 as an engineer at the Flight Research Center (now Dryden). After transferring to flight operations in 1962, he was assigned as one of the project pilots on the Rogallo paraglider research vehicle (Paresev) program. The Paresev resembled a tricycle beneath a hang glider and was used to evaluate the use of an inflatable and non-inflatable, flexible wing for the recovery of manned space vehicles.

Peterson made his first Paresev research flight on March 14, 1962. He was injured when the craft crashed from an height of about 10 feet during a ground tow flight. Always the consummate engineer, his first question after impact was, "What happened to the lateral stick forces?"

As a NASA research pilot he flew a wide variety of airplanes including the F5D-1, F-100, F-104, F-111A, B-52, NT-33A Variable Stability Trainer, the wingless lifting bodies and numerous general aviation aircraft as well as several types of helicopters and sailplanes.

As project pilot on the swing-wing F-111A, he performed tests related to stability and control, performance and structural loads, including engine inlet and exhaust studies, internal flow investigations and aerodynamics research.

Peterson's lifting body work included 42 glide flights in the M2-F1 lightweight lifting body and numerous research missions in the heavier rocket-powered M2-F2 and HL-10 lifting bodies.

Peterson piloted the maiden flight of the HL-10 lifting body on Dec. 22, 1966. During the three-minute descent to landing, airflow separation across the control surfaces rendered the HL-10 virtually unflyable but he managed to land the vehicle safely, a tribute to his considerable piloting skills. As a result of the data collected during the near disastrous flight, the HL-10 was modified to fix the problem and went on to become one of the most successful lifting body concepts.

Peterson was probably best known for surviving the crash of the M2-F2 on May 10, 1967. Although he regained control of the craft after it entered a violent "Dutch roll" motion, the M2-F2 struck the surface of the dry lakebed at an estimated 250 mph before the landing gear was fully down. It bounced, tumbled and rolled across the lakebed in a cloud of dust, eventually coming to rest on its back. Rescue crews extricated the badly injured Peterson. After an extensive hospitalization, he recovered from his injuries but lost sight in one eye due to a secondary infection while in the hospital.

Peterson gained a small measure of fame when his accident and subsequent recovery inspired a 1970s television series called The Six-Million Dollar Man. The storyline featured a test pilot who, having been injured in the crash of a lifting body vehicle, is rebuilt with advanced "bionic" technology. Film footage of the M2-F2 accident was used in the show's opening credits.

Despite his injuries, Peterson continued to fly NASA support missions, occasional research flights and continued his Marine Reserve flying duties until 1971. During his flying career, Peterson logged more than 6,000 flight hours in nearly 70 types of aircraft.

Peterson continued at Dryden as research project engineer on the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire program of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later assumed responsibility for safety and quality assurance for Dryden until his retirement in 1981.

He then joined the Northrop Corporation, where he assumed responsibility for safety and quality assurance for testing of the B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber. From 1982 until 1994 Peterson worked in Northrop's B-2 division at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., and at Edwards, becoming manager of system safety and human factors.

A native of Washburn, N.D., Peterson was born May 23, 1933. After attending the University of California at Los Angeles from 1950 to 1953, he enlisted as a Naval Aviation Cadet that year and was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant in November 1954. He earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo in 1958, and was a 1962 graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School.

Peterson was a fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and 2002 recipient of the Tony LeVier Flight Safety Award. He was honored by NASA with an exceptional leadership award for his work on preparations for the first space shuttle landing at NASA Dryden in April 1981. In 2003 he was inducted into the Lancaster Aerospace Walk of Honor.

A memorial observance in the Lancaster area for Peterson is pending.


cddfspace
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Posts: 597
From: Morris County, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 05-03-2006 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cddfspace   Click Here to Email cddfspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another American Hero now resides in a better place.

GodSpeed Bruce!

CDDFSPACE

OOTWCook
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Posts: 18
From: Lancaster, California , USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 05-03-2006 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OOTWCook   Click Here to Email OOTWCook     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another sad loss for aviation! I was lucky enough to have first meet Bruce Peterson here in Lancaster in the mid 70's as he was a close family friend of one of my good friend's. Godspeed Bruce........

machbusterman
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Posts: 1657
From: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Registered: May 2004

posted 05-03-2006 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These passing of Crossfield, White and Peterson during the past 12 days has really shocked the flight test community AND has had a profound effect in the hearts and minds of many collectors.

Whilst we mourn their passing we should rejoice the effect we feel from the contact we have had with our heroes and I am sure they will be looking down on us all happy in the knowledge that they will be missed by many enthusiasts and collectors.

Godspeed Bruce & Al.

Respectfully, Derek

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