Space News
space history and artifacts articles

space history discussion forums

worldwide astronaut appearances

selected space history documents

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Space Explorers & Workers
  USAF astronaut Robert White (1924-2010) (Page 1)

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

This topic is 2 pages long:   1  2 
next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   USAF astronaut Robert White (1924-2010)

Posts: 2732
From: Stuart, Florida
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 03-18-2010 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
USAF astronaut Robert White (1924-2010)

This will be posted on our website later today:

At 11:55 p.m. on March 17, 2010, the world lost a true hero and legend. The old Irishman went home on St. Patrick's Day. Please join us in sending prayers and best wishes to the children and family of this legend. Although arrangements have not been made as of yet, the General will be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery with his beloved wife Chris, who predeceased him, as befitting a hero of his status.
It is with tears in my eyes I type this. Godspeed you old Irishman, it is fitting you left us on St. Patty's Day.

Editor's note: The following biography was prepared by the National Aviation Hall of Fame for White's enshrinement in 2006.

In July 1962, White was at the controls of the sleek rocket powered X-15, the fastest aircraft ever built. At 59 miles above the earth, there was no sensation of speed but a distinct feeling of altitude. The sky was almost black, and White saw the curvature of the earth from San Francisco Bay all the way to Mexico. One of many record-setting X-15 flights, this one earned White his astronaut wings - the first to do so in a fixed wing aircraft.
  • White flew P-51 Mustangs over Europe during WWII but was shot down on his 52nd combat mission, spending two months as a POW.

  • White was the first human to fly an aircraft at Mach 4, Mach 5 and Mach 6 in the X-15.

  • On July 17, 1962, Major White flew the X-15 to an altitude of 314,750 feet (59 miles, 96 km) becoming the first "Winged Astronaut."

  • White flew 70 combat missions in F-105 Thunderchief with the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Major General "Bob" White began his military career during World War II. He entered the Army as an 18-year-old aviation cadet in November 1942 and earned his pilot's wings in July 1944.

The 355th Fighter Group, which had been newly-equipped with high-powered P-51 Mustang, flew bomber escort missions over Germany. After the Normandy landings and the Allied breakout at St. Lo, Lt. White and his comrades flew ground attack missions to cut enemy supply lines and carried out fighter sweeps against the Luftwaffe. In February 1945, he was shot down by heavy anti-aircraft fire over Germany during his 52nd combat mission. He was captured, and remained a prisoner until the camp was liberated two months later.

Following the victory, White returned to the United States and enrolled at New York University, where he received a Bachelor of Electrical Science degree in 1951.

A reservist, White was recalled to active duty in May 1951 for the Korean War. He first served as a pilot and engineering officer at Mitchell Air Force Base. In February 1952, he was sent to Japan and assigned to the 40th Fighter Squadron as a F-80 pilot and flight commander.

Facing a crossroads at the end of the Korean War, White elected to remain on active duty and turned his attention to the advancement of scientific flight. He traveled to California to attend the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and graduated in January 1955.

He became the Deputy Chief of the Flight Test Operations Division, and later was named Assistant Chief of the Manned Spacecraft Operations Branch.

White's destiny was to change dramatically when the joint Air Force-Navy-NASA X-15 project moved into high gear in 1958. The challenge was to explore the problems connected with manned flight beyond the earth's atmosphere. The solution was the X-15, North American Aviation's futuristic rocket-powered research aircraft, launched from a B-52.

Now a Major, White was designated the Air Force's primary pilot for the X-15 program. He made his first X-15 flight on April 15, 1960. Four months later, he took the experimental craft to an altitude of 136,000 feet.

After the craft's new and improved 57,000 pound thrust engine was installed, White flew it to a speed of 2,275 mph in February 1961, setting an unofficial world speed record. Over the next eight months, he became the first human to fly at Mach 4 and then at Mach 5. In November, White reached a speed of 4,093 mph. This was 93 mph more than the plane was designed to achieve, and made White the first human to fly a winged craft six times faster than the speed of sound. Following this feat, he took the X-15 to the record-setting altitude of more than 59 miles above the earth's surface qualifying him for astronaut wings. It also earned White perhaps the most meaningful award to - the Society of Experimental Test Pilot's Iven C. Kincheloe Award. "He also received the Harmon International Trophy and the Collier Trophy, both presented by the President in the White House."

In 1966, White received a Master of Science degree in business administration from The George Washington University. An assignment to the Air Force Systems Command followed, as Chief of the Tactical Systems Office, F-111 Systems Program, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

For the third time in White's career, war intervened. In May, 1967, he went to Southeast Asia as Deputy Commander for Operations of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, stationed in Thailand. He flew 70 combat missions over North Vietnam flying the F-105 Thunderchief. White was then transferred to Seventh Air Force Headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Republic of Vietnam, where he served as Chief of the Attack Division in the Directorate of Combat Operations.

In June 1968, White was back into the world of research and development, at the Air Force Systems Command at Wright-Patterson. Now a colonel, he was named Director of the Aeronautical Systems Division's F-15 Systems Program Office.

Colonel White's next assignment brought him back to Edwards. Designated a selectee for the rank of Brigadier General, the 46-year-old officer assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center in July 1970.

In November of 1972, he assumed the duties of Commandant, Air Force Reserve Officer's Training Corps.

He won his second star in February 1975, and, in March, became Chief of Staff of the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force.

White retired from active duty as a Major General in February 1981. For his service action in combat, White earned the Air Force Cross, and four Silver Stars with three clusters.

A moment of silence can be signified by a reply with no words and only a period.


Posts: 2896
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 03-18-2010 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Godspeed General White. You have slipped the surly bonds of earth one last time.

Al please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend.



Posts: 6210
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 03-18-2010 09:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
His biography was due to come out.



Posts: 655
From: Norfolk, VA
Registered: May 2007

posted 03-18-2010 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2610
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 03-18-2010 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1505
From: Bluffton IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 03-18-2010 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1328
From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 03-18-2010 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I talked to him over the telephone a couple of times and he signed several items for me through the mail, but I never got to meet him face to face. He seemed to be a kind, generous, humble man. I will always remember him from his cover on Life Magazine titled "What a Ride!"


Posts: 301
From: Germany
Registered: Aug 2006

posted 03-18-2010 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SPACEFACTS   Click Here to Email SPACEFACTS     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 365
From: London, UK
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 03-18-2010 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for minipci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 3307
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 03-18-2010 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 649
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 03-18-2010 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sts205cdr   Click Here to Email sts205cdr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1337
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 03-18-2010 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Al, Bob must have been a great man and great friend. A true loss of a pioneer.



Posts: 691
From: Salzburg, Austria
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 03-18-2010 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 977
From: Michigan
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 03-18-2010 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Lou Chinal

Posts: 1306
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 03-18-2010 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 609
From: Morris County, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 03-18-2010 12:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cddfspace   Click Here to Email cddfspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2476
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 03-18-2010 12:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1405
From: Huntington Beach
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 03-18-2010 12:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am very sorry to hear of this news today. I just received a copy of Air and Space in the mail yesterday with the story Bob shared with you Al.

I know Bob is flying higher and faster than ever now and he and his family will be in our family's prayers.

Kind Regards

Douglas Henry

Enjoy yourself and have fun.... it is only a hobby!


Posts: 618
From: BURTON ON TRENT /England
Registered: Nov 2002

posted 03-18-2010 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for icarkie   Click Here to Email icarkie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 855
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 03-18-2010 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Godspeed to one of the pioneers.



Posts: 3811
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 03-18-2010 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
White was the king of the X-15 pilots, as far as I'm concerned. He did more important firsts and broke more records in an X-15 than anyone else. Not to mention that he was a kind and generous man as well. He will truly be missed.

(Sadly, a living part of aviation history is quickly coming to an end...and we only have three X-15 pilots remaining: Dana, Engle, and Armstrong)


Posts: 803
From: Co. Monaghan, Republic of Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 03-18-2010 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rest in Peace Major General White.

As Al said, it is fitting that you passed away on Paddy's Day.

A sad day.


Posts: 831
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-18-2010 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2331
From: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 03-18-2010 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 231
From: Cardiff, S. Wales, UK
Registered: Apr 2006

posted 03-18-2010 02:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 2169
From: McKinney TX (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 03-18-2010 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Henk Boshuijer

Posts: 450
From: Netherlands
Registered: May 2007

posted 03-18-2010 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henk Boshuijer   Click Here to Email Henk Boshuijer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 586
From: Germany
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 03-18-2010 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Steve Procter

Posts: 1031
From: Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 03-18-2010 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Procter   Click Here to Email Steve Procter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Rick Mulheirn

Posts: 4167
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-18-2010 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Michael Davis

Posts: 528
From: Houston, Texas
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 03-18-2010 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Davis   Click Here to Email Michael Davis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 577
From: Ohio
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 03-18-2010 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 287
From: Louisiana
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 03-18-2010 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

history in miniature

Posts: 600
From: Slatington, PA
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 03-18-2010 06:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for history in miniature   Click Here to Email history in miniature     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 108
From: New York, NY USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-18-2010 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Murph   Click Here to Email Murph     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Always hard to lose a hero.

Godspeed Robert.


Posts: 474
From: Fayetteville, NC, USA
Registered: May 2009

posted 03-18-2010 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Mike Isbell

Posts: 551
From: Silver Spring, Maryland USA
Registered: Aug 2003

posted 03-18-2010 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Isbell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Michael Clemente

Posts: 186
From: Atco, New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 03-18-2010 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael Clemente   Click Here to Email Michael Clemente     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 1751
From: Killingly, CT
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 03-18-2010 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


Posts: 916
From: Fort Mill, SC, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 03-18-2010 09:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good flying Bob.


This topic is 2 pages long:   1  2 

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.

Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a