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  X-1 pilot Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin (1923-2005)

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Author Topic:   X-1 pilot Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin (1923-2005)
nojnj
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Posts: 495
From: Highland Heights, KY
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 10-20-2005 08:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nojnj   Click Here to Email nojnj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was greatly saddened to learn that Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin has passed away. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Godspeed!

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 10-20-2005 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am very sorry to hear that. As well as his personal piloting contributions to the history of aerospace, Goodlin spent much of his later career championing the cause of the Burnelli wing. If successful, his awareness-raising work in this field could result in huge fuel / cost savings for commercial passenger flights. I'm sorry to hear he won't be around to continue pushing these viewpoints anymore.

hinkler
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From: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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posted 10-20-2005 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Godspeed Chalmers Goodlin. My sympathies to his friends and family.

We have lost another aviation pioneer. Can you imagine the bar in fighter pilot/test pilot heaven at the moment?

It would be nice if someone could write the real Chalmers Goodlin story rather than the Yeager/Right Stuff version.

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

posted 10-20-2005 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was very saddened to read this news. Chalmers Goodlin wasn't just a test pilot... he was a gentleman... and that is why he never rebutted the what was written and portrayed about him in "The Right Stuff" and in "Yeager".

RIP Slick... you'll never be forgotten!

albatron
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From: Stuart, Florida, USA
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posted 10-20-2005 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree, the true story of Chal and the XS-1 story begs to be told - and there was so much more to this man than the XS-1. But Chal's ego was such he didn't feel worthy of writing one. Many of us begged him to do it. Mrs. Goodlin as well, and has mentioned she would still like it to be done.

Here is the posting I made to the astronauts and aviation history groups this morning, this gives you some insight into this hero:

It is with a truly heavy heart that I type this report this morning. The world has lost a true aerospace pioneer and I have lost a dear friend. At around 1:30 AM today, Chal passed away peacefully in his sleep. His devoted wife Aila was by his side.

What makes this even more bittersweet, was he was selected for induction to the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame yesterday afternoon late. This is not suppose to be for publication until formal notifications are made, but I am making an exception in this case due to circumstances (I am on the selection committee).

Let us hope he can now gain the respect he deserves, and that one "bitter man" will no longer try to boost his own ego by putting down Slick with manufactured stories, as he has for years.

Below is a portion of the press release for his obituary we finished last night (funeral arrangements pending) - I'll bet a dollar many of you did not know the total Slick Goodlin and will read a lot you were not aware of:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of pioneer test pilot, humanitarian, businessman, loving husband and loyal friend, Chalmers H. "Slick" Goodlin. Chal, as he was known to his friends and associates, was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on January 2nd, 1923 and died at his residence in West Palm Beach, Florida with his loving and devoted wife Aila, at his side.

He obtained his private pilot's license in 1939 and in 1941 joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a trainee in preparation to join the war effort in England. There he was assigned as an Instructor and Ferry pilot, but later flew Spitfires in England.

He switched over to the US Navy as an instructor pilot in 1943 and flew most of the aircraft in the Navy's inventory.

From 1944 - 1948 he flew for the Bell Aircraft Corporation as an engineering test pilot, flying 26 flights in the XS-1 (the 1st rocket propelled aircraft designed to exceed mach 1) and the other Bell Aircraft of that time. As test pilot for the XS-1 he was responsible for proving out and readying the aircraft for the USAF prior to their acceptance. He pioneered rocket powered flight and flew into many unproven regimes never before flown. He considers this one of two parts of his career that meant the most to him. He was also one of the very first jet licensed pilots in the US.

He joined the "Caterpillar Club" two times when bailing out of aircraft during test flights. In 1946, at the first post war Air Races in Cleveland, he was the co owner and test pilot of a Bell Cobra II.

During 1948 and 1949, Chal flew for the Israeli Air Force on combat duty and later became the chief test pilot for the IAF. Later, when hostilities ceased, he flew DC-4's for Near East Air Transport on humanitarian missions, carrying thousands of Jewish refugees to Israel from Aden, Arabia and Germany.

He then went on to further his spectacular career in aviation owning the Seychelles-Kilimanjaro Air Transport, and other companies supplying parts and aircraft to various airline and other concerns.

What he considers the pinnacle of his career however, was becoming involved with and ultimately Chairman and CEO of, the Burnelli Company. An aircraft company noted for the safe design of airline bodies that met with considerable political resistance. He fought the battle for Burnelli and the design for many years.

The Burnelli Company's design was the first "flying wing" or lifting body design that was manufactured, that would have revolutionized the airline industry and created far safer airliners.

While his other achievements are far too numerous to list in total here, Mr. Goodlin is a nominee for the National Aviation Hall of Fame, was inducted into the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame, the American Rocket Society (Honorary Member 1946), he had a Commendation from the American Red Cross for Humanitarian Efforts in Nigerian Relief Operations and Biafra (1969), elected into the Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall of Fame (1987), Society for Experimental Test Pilots (Honorary Fellow 1991), and received the Wright Brothers Memorial Award from the Greater Miami Aviation Association (1992).

He enjoyed memberships in the Royal Aero Club, the Quiet Birdmen, the Caterpillar Club, the OX-5 Club, The Greater Miami Aviation Association as a Senior Member and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Mr. Goodlin is survived by his loving wife the former Aila Kaarina Vainio of Finland, his brother E. Alton (Al) Goodlin and sister Myla Shestik (husband Robert), both of

New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, and his two nieces Susan Ludwig and Cindy Burnham (husband Matthew Burnham and two children, Kay-Lee and Tailor).

Funeral arrangements locally are by the Joseph Scarano Funeral Home in Pembroke Pines, Florida, with burial in the family plot in Pennsylvania.

The world is a lesser place today - Godspeed Chal.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 10-20-2005 09:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard a few comments in various message strings about Goodlin and Yeager and how the latter is somehow being untruthful about the events surrounding the Air Force taking over the X-1 program.

Is this the old "Goodlin broke the sound barrier 6 months earlier" argument, or is there something else? Is there some reference that tells the other side of the story?

Wishing good tailwinds for Chalmers Goodlin and sincere condolences to his family and friends...

machbusterman
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From: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
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posted 10-21-2005 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope Al might be able to back me up here... Chalmers never ever claimed to have broken the sound barrier prior to Yeager's flight in the X-1 on October 14,1947. Did he break the sound barrier prior to Yeager?

Possibly, but sadly we will never know. Much of the data from Chals flights in the XS-1 was never shown or divulged to him by the NACA. There will be files somewhere which could tell the truth but I'm sure they will never see the light of day.

The untruths told by Yeager include the whole thing about the $150,000 that Goodlin was to have received for "breaking the sound barrier". That piece of garbage has been burned into the minds of the tens (or hundreds?) of millions of people who have watched the movie "The Right Stuff". The movie (and Yeager's autobiography) does not tell the whole truth about that particular period of aviation history.

The $150,000 that Goodlin was to have received was not for merely breaking the sound barrier (as the movie and Yeager's book would have you believe) was a fee agreed upon between Goodlin, Bob Stanley and Larry Bell for and was part of a contract for not just piloting the XS-1 but for other test flying, development work and other duties as required by the Bell Aircraft Corporation.

Of course as a civilian test pilot it was the norm back in those days (as I am sure it is in the present age) for company test pilots to be paid a bonus or gratuity to perform various hazardous manouvres and flight test operations in prototype and experimental aircraft.

The sad thing is that because of what has been written and portrayed thus far with regard to Chalmers Goodlin many people may have held an adverse opinion about his entire persona and that indeed is a huge travesty of justice.

Sadly very few people will be aware of the entire story and it is with a heavy heart that I say here and now that I wish Chalmers had been able to "have his day in court" to tell the world his full unabridged side of story and to put matters to rest in such a way that a certain "bitter man" would be forced to make a full and unequivocal retraction of the untruths he has told for the past 30-odd years.

hinkler
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From: Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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posted 10-21-2005 06:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hinkler   Click Here to Email hinkler     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was an interesting letter written by Chalmers Goodlin on eBay. It gives his opinion on his portrayal in the book and movie "The Right Stuff".

Chalmers Goodlin writes "The "Right Stuff" film was absolute rubbish, and my portrayal in it was entirely fictional as well as libelous."

Truly an amazing man who will be sadly missed.

albatron
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From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 10-21-2005 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Derek is quite correct. Several times I have discussed his potentially going supersonic prior to Yeager. He has been very forthright in saying it's quite possible he did, as the transition was not as big a deal as they thought it would be, and, the speed of sound is totally variable.

However he does not claim to, nor does he claim he tried - because as he says - he did not try. IF he did it, it was entirely accidental but has no knowledge of ever doing it. Also, NACA kept the telemetry under wraps and would not share it with Bell. Which he says, was hurtful to the program as the data would have been helpful to Bell and their progress. NOT to prove he went mach.

As for the fee, in the movie it portrays Slick as taking the XS-1 up to the speed of sound, and (figuratively) coming back and digging in his heels and demanding a huge payment. The truth of the matter was, contractor test pilots of that era received salaries and not very good ones. But they received bonuses for segments of a test flight envelope. Jack Woolams was originally scheduled to fly the XS-1 flights, and did indeed do the unpowered (glide) flights. But sadly Jack Woolams was killed during the 1946 Air Races in an airplane jointly owned by Woolams, Slick and Tex Johnston.

Woolams had a contract to receive bonuses at various flight regimes. When he died, the program was turned over to Slick. Larry Bell would not re write a contract for Slick, but with a gentleman's agreement that Slick would receive the same bonuses Woolams was contracted to, Slick agreed.

However, as the program reached the transonic phase, Bell began to balk. Then General Smith (who Al Boyd answered to) felt the USAF should get "the glory" as it were, since they funded the XS-1 (it was called the XS-1 until it flew supersonic). The USAF decision had not one thing to do with Slicks contract or "demands".

This was business, and Slick accepted this with no complaints. Bell re-assigned him back to Niagara to take part in the XP-59 and "Reluctant Robot" program (a radio controlled aircraft).

But I am going out on a limb here and add another story. Prior to returning to Niagra, Slick felt the next pilot of the XS-1 needed to be checked out in it. So he offered his services to the pilot - free of charge. He also wired Larry bell and told him he would remain at Muroc until he could in good conscience get the next guy ready. Bell angrily refused to pay him for this and continued to demand Slick return to Niagra.

Slick extended his rental facility for two weeks at his own expense, with no pay for the time he remained, and with the agreement of the next pilot, reported to Muroc the next day. He was denied access (and most probably due to Larry Bell). So he had no choice but to return to Niagara, and shortly thereafter left Bell.

Sadly someone who's ego skyrocketed after the Right Stuff movie, started a rumour that Slick wanted $75,000 to check them out. This is simply not true.

So I'm sure you can see the reality vs. the movie and someones ego. Hopefully.

Further, in regards to who broke the sound barrier first; there is an excellent book by North American test pilot Al Blackburn called "Aces Wild: The Race for Mach 1." It is about North American test pilot George "Wheaties" Welch who most probably DID do it the morning Yeager did. He was the chief test pilot at NAA, and flew the first flights of the YP-86 (later F-86). Wheaties was also a very highly decorated Ace in WWII and was one of the few pilots to get airborne at Pearl Harbor scoring 4 victories that day. Blackburn makes an excellent case for Wheaties to have done it first and I highly recommend this book for any aerospace enthusiasts library. Mine is signed by Blackburn, and by two "characters" in the book: Ken Chilstrom and Slick.

It also addresses Slick making what some call a sonic boom. Slick denies making a sonic boom, and even in the book refers to a crack the whip maneuver he was programmed to do in the flight expansion envelope - which Slick agrees was truly the case.

I know several folks who knew Wheaties, and to a man they all agree if NAA ordered him NOT to go supersonic, that alone would make him go out and do it right then somehow. (NAA did in fact, order him not to - so the USAF could make the claim). The next pilot to fly the XP-86, was Ken Chilstrom, a sort of neighbor and also dear friend. Ken was Chief of Fighter Test at Wright Pat and was the guy who recommended to Fred Ascani and Al Boyd, that Yeager and Hoover be the pilots for the XS-1 program (they worked for Ken). I asked Ken (also mentioned in the book as "a good soldier who when ordered, also would not take the XP-86 supersonic" which Ken agreed he was ordered NOT to and would follow orders, of course) about this. Ken and I have discussed this several times. Still being a loyal USAF officer (retired) he will not say Wheaties DID do it, but allows he "might" have.

I mentioned another test pilot said Wheaties could not have done it in the XP-86 as it did not have the flying tail the XS-1 required to do it. I will not mention the name of who said this. Ken chuckled, looked at me for a minute and said "XXX said that?" I said yes he did. He smiled further and said "interesting". That told me volumes.

I have read after action reports from Wright Pat in which the test pilots flying the captured Me-262 report routinely exceeding mach in powered dives. From 1946 and early 1947.

So at best, Yeager did it the first time, in level flight. I do not take away his accomplishments - he has many. But lets put it all in perspective. And give Slick his PROPER due.

Simply refer to the short bio I typed of Slicks life. He should defer to no man, and many cannot shine his shoes. It's amazing, every single test pilot I speak to, and as you know there are LOTS - all think Slick was a fine test pilot and was wronged very badly by the movie - and "some forces".

I hope this clears it all up.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 10-21-2005 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By virtually all accounts, Mr. Goodlin was a great American and a truly talented pilot who made significant contributions to aviation. I love talking about flying and trading flying stories, and I am sorry that I never had the opportunity to meet him.

All the best to his family.

brucer
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posted 11-03-2005 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brucer   Click Here to Email brucer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to take part in this discussion. I have communicated with Slick for a few years and started to write his story (and that of Burnelli) earlier this year.

If anyone wants to contact me with stories of information, please feel free.

albatron
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From: Stuart, Florida, USA
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posted 11-03-2005 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chal had forwarded me a few of your emails over the years, and it was quite interesting. but I believe he had been working with someone else to write that book?

In any event, good luck.

brucer
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posted 11-06-2005 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brucer   Click Here to Email brucer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He was working with a guy in Texas (name escapes me) to do a book on Burnelli. My focus is him and Canada.

albatron
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From: Stuart, Florida, USA
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posted 11-06-2005 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Right, the connection between he and Canada. He would forward your emails to me. The "guy in Texas" was suppose to do his bio also but had problems with the book in Burnelli completing.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 10-09-2011 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found this ad from a June 1947 Life magazine:

albatron
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posted 10-09-2011 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is great - thanks for sharing! I found one on eBay quite some time ago and gave it to him. He signed it and it is suppose to be at the Bell Museum in NY. They have some of his items.

MarylandSpace
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posted 10-09-2011 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I enjoyed rereading this thread.

dtemple
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posted 11-08-2011 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since the F-86 could go supersonic then doesn't strongly suspecting Welch went supersonic prior to Yeager's first supersonic flight seem very reasonable - even likely? I know Welch flew the YF-86 but it had the GE J47 which many of the production versions had (the "H" had something different). Why can't some aviation historian/writer dig out the truth on this matter?

hlbjr
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posted 11-09-2011 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can tell you firsthand I heard a few old North American engineering guys tell a gathering of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association that the XP-86 in fact did break the sound barrier before the X-1. They said it was confirmed with a theodolite measurement (not sure what that entailed) and was heard by numerous personnel out there at Muroc/Edwards. I heard this about 20 years ago. I trust the sources implicitly.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 11-09-2011 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I worked on a survey crew running a transit (Theodolite) during summers off from college. I think the NAA guys were probably referring to a tachymeter which is a form of Theodolite. It measures speed over a set distance. It is very much like the tacheometer on the bezel of a chronometer.

albatron
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From: Stuart, Florida, USA
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posted 11-11-2011 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good to see you back on your feet Larry.

As an aside, and I've no idea of a theodolite vs. anything else, I later got to know Tom Collins, a test pilot who also has no love for "the other guy" in the Right Stuff story. Tom was the first to fly the Mig 15 brought by a defecting pilot, although "the other guy" claims to have flown it first.

Tom was one of the two pilots who were doing testing at Wright field to calibrate some sort of radar, theodolite (and I'm deferring to Larry here), tachymeter or whatever. They would do dive tests over the field.

Unknown to the pilots they were creating sonic booms but no one at the time, knew what they were. This was AFTER yeager of course, but the sonic booms were still top secret.

The local newspaper reported the citizenry in Dayton and area were scared because they thought the USAF was exploding bombs on the base, powerful ones to shatter their windows!

So the WP contingent got with the Muroc guys, and lo, discovered these were sonic booms! So the USAF held demonstrations for the media, to explain it and assure folks no nukes were being exploded at WP.

I should add, and importantly to the story, Collin's YP-86, was the first one off the line, and the one flown by Wheaties for the first flight.

This is one of the stories by Collins in that great piece of history about Wright Pat (WP): "Test Flying at Old Wright Field". Highly recommended.

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