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Eugene F. May - D558-1 Skystreak Test Pilot - UFO Encounter

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Eugene F. May - D558-1 Skystreak Test Pilot - UFO Encounter

Post  AstroCamel on Thu May 26, 2011 7:19 am

[b]Eugene F. May - Test Pilot for Douglas industries in the 1940's flew the experimental D558-1 Skystreak Aircraft[b]

May, Eugene F American Test Pilot. Douglas test pilot.

D-558-I first flight. - . Crew: May. Nation: USA. Related Persons: May. Spacecraft: D-558-1. Douglas pilot Eugene F. May flew the number one Skystreak for the first time on April 14, 1947, at Muroc Army Airfield (later renamed Edwards Air Force Base) in Calif. The goals of the program were to investigate the operation of a straight-wing configuration in the lower third of the transonic speed range (which extended from roughly 0.7 to 1.3 times the speed of sound).

Pilots Gene May and Howard Lilly standing beside the D-558-1 Skystreak

D-558-2 launch from a U.S. Navy P2B-1S

The Douglas Skyrocket (D-558-2 or D-558-II) was a rocket and jet-powered supersonic research aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy.

Aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor, McDonnell Douglas in the 1960's studied UFO's (see video here) and in one of the research documents is a story relayed by George VanTassel about how Gene May was allowed a unofficial flight in the X15 Rocket plane and encountered a UFO.

according to the story,

" a large UFO moved into the area, made contact and took the aircraft and him inside"

"he talked with the occupants of the UFO and after 2.5 hours realized he had been gone a long time and asked to be released. pilot and craft were returned to the proper altitude and he landed safely."

"May immediately related occurrences to the operations personnel and was discredited and subjected to psychiatric counseling. May reminded all persons present that he had only ten minutes fuel and was airborne for three hours. he then became very reluctant to discuss the incident further."

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this supposed Gene May UFO encounter story was relayed to the McDonell Douglas investigators by George Van Tassel

Relevant info on Van Tassel:

Van Tassel became an aircraft mechanic and flight inspector who at various times between 1930 and 1947 worked for Douglas Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, and Lockheed. While at Hughes Aircraft he was the Top Flight Inspector.[citation needed] He finally left Southern California's booming aerospace industry for the desert in 1947. He and his family at first lived a simple existence in the rooms Frank Critzer had dug out under Giant Rock. Van Tassel eventually built a home, a cafe, a small airstrip, and a dude ranch beside the Rock.

George Van Tassel, creator of the Integratron, was a legendary figure, an aeronautical engineer and test pilot who worked for Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft and alongside Howard Hughes at Hughes Aviation . He was also one of the leaders in the UFO movement who held annual "Spacecraft Conventions" at Giant Rock for 25 years. Van Tassel said UFO channelings and ideas from scientists such as Nikola Tesla led to the unique architecture of the Integratron. He spent 18 years constructing the building.

George Van Tassel as a young man in California

The Integratron is a dome-shaped structure constructed out of plywood and fiberglass by George Van Tassel. He built the structure in Landers, California, USA as a "rejuvenation machine" supposedly following instructions provided by visitors from the planet Venus.


George van Tassel was a former aircraft mechanic and flight inspector who moved out to California's Mojave Desert to operate an airport and inn. During his time there, he supposedly began meditating under Giant Rock, which the Native Americans of the area held to be sacred. In August 1953, Van Tassel claimed that he had been contacted both telepathically and later in person by Venusians, who gave him a technique to rejuvenate human cell tissues. Van Tassel, acting on these instructions, began constructing the Integratron in 1954. Construction costs were paid for by an annual series of successful UFO conventions, the Giant Rock Spacecraft Conventions, which continued for nearly 25 years. Van Tassel was clearly inspired by earlier 1950s contactee George Adamski. Construction of the Integratron was supposedly complete in 1959, but Van Tassel continued to make minor modifications until his sudden death in 1978.

The Integratron, despite being built without nails, survived a magnitude-7.3 earthquake in 1992.

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Power of the Vortex

People have not lost sight of the power at Giant Rock. It garnered new attention in February 2000 when a meditative reading foretold that the old Hopi legends could easily become true in a short time. Hopi shaman had known since before 1920 that the rebirth of the new 21st century could be foretold at Giant Rock. If the rock split in half the Earth Mother was disillusioned with man and would not accept the prayers given on behalf of mankind.

However if the rock split on the side relieving pressure on the Earth’s tectonic plates then man’s prayers were answered and a new era would be revealed. Although Giant Rock had not moved in a million years, the next morning a third of the rock split and broke away, exposing a gleaming white granite interior. The prophecy had been fulfilled.

The Intrigue of Giant Rock -

Giant Rock "Spaceship" Picture

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Re: Eugene F. May - D558-1 Skystreak Test Pilot - UFO Encounter

Post  AstroCamel on Thu May 26, 2011 7:25 am

Opinionated skeptical article on the Gene May UFO Encounter

The Case of the Vanishing X-15 Pilot.

The publication of Ann Druffel’s book, Firestorm: Dr. James M. McDonald’s Fight For UFO Science, was met with a mixed reception among believers and skeptics alike. The book gave an inside account of the highly respected atmospheric physicist’s involvement with UFOs. At the same time, many readers objected to Druffel’s attempts to include Roswell and MJ-12 in the account, as well as the book’s technical and historical errors. McDonald’s notebooks, in which he recorded his day-to-day activities, formed the basis of the book. These notebooks included summaries of numerous phone calls, notes on trips, events in his struggle with the University of Colorado UFO study, headed by Dr. Edward U. Condon, and McDonald’s efforts to arrange congressional hearings on UFOs. [1]

In reading Firestorm, I was surprised to discover an account of a UFO incident involving an X-15 flight. I had long been interested in the history of this research aircraft. With a maximum altitude above 350,000 feet, the X-15 was the first attempt by the U.S. to build a vehicle able to reach the edge of space. I also knew of UFO sightings involving the X-15. I had not heard of this story, however, and was astonished by the alleged details of the case. This was not simply a claim that an X-15 pilot had seen a UFO, but rather that he had been abducted in flight. [2]

The story grew out of McDonald’s involvement with the congressional UFO hearings. He was politically ambitious, and was skilled at influencing men of power. As a result McDonald stage managed the hearings, to the extent that he actually selected the five individuals who would testify. McDonald called them on July 8, 1968, to confirm they could be available. They were: Dr. Robert L. Hall, Dr. Robert M. Wood, Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. Robert M.L. Baker, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek. [3]

Dr. Wood indicated there might be problems with his attending. (In fact Dr. Wood eventually had to bow out.) During the conversation, however, Wood told McDonald a remarkable abduction story. McDonald’s handwritten text, as best as can be determined, read:

“Said heard of Gene May an X-15 pilot 5-8 years 15 min flight, yet came back 3 hours later. Said he was taken aboard UFO. Was examined by psychologist Edwards AFB Fellow at Vandenberg whom Bob knows, also knows Gene May. Douglas test pilot checking out X-15, 5-8 years [So I recounted Piccard. Urged he look for him….” [4]

Wood was the Deputy Director for Research and Development at the Douglas Missile and Space Division at the time of the conversation. The source of the abduction story was a colleague who worked at Vandenberg AFB. Wood considered him to be “very reliable.” In Firestorm, Wood also said that his source knew May very well, who was described as having been involved with the X-15 program for several years. From the date of the conversation, and Wood’s account, the abduction supposedly took place between 1960 and 1963. Although McDonald made a note of the story for future reference, he apparently never followed up on the case of the vanishing X-15 pilot.

Initially, the X-15 abduction story was nothing more than an amusing anecdote. The flaws in the tale were apparent to anyone familiar with the X-15 program. I told several individuals the story. They all recognized the flaws, and were amused by the story. Then, during a conversation, I mentioned the tale to a retired X-15 engineer, and was surprised to learn that Wood’s account was not the first time this story of an X-15 pilot being taken aboard a UFO had been told.

An Engineer at Giant Rock

During the early 1960s, Kenneth W. Iliff was a young NASA engineer working on the X-15 project at what was then called the NASA Flight Research Center (now the Dryden Flight Research Center). He would subsequently have a forty-year career with NASA, earned a PhD, and retiring as the Chief Scientist at Dryden. The NASA facility was a relatively short distance from Giant Rock, where annual UFO conventions were held. These events attracted the interest of some of the NASA engineers, and they made the pilgrimage to the site. Iliff went to Giant Rock in two consecutive years. As best he can remember after four decades, these were in 1963 and 1964. Both times he was accompanied by Lowell Greenfield, who was a fellow NASA engineer.

Iliff recalled that Giant Rock was at the end of a long and poorly-maintained dirt road. Parking was somewhat disorganized, and several light airplanes had landed at the dirt airstrip. The crowd numbered at least several hundred in Iliff’s estimation. Most were UFO believers, many with family members. However, there were a significant number of people who were merely curious, and who, like Iliff, did not have strong opinions about UFOs. There were also quite a few “promoters,” as Iliff called them, selling various UFO items, such as books that they had written and published. George Van Tassel, who organized the yearly conventions, was asking for large donations of over $100 to complete the “Integratron.” (This was a significant sum in the early 1960s.) The money was also to be used to buy a road grader. Iliff recalled that the Integratron was described as duplicating the “jawbone of the ass” in the Bible.

The Giant Rock conventions were legendary because of the speakers recounting their UFO adventures, and Iliff and Greenfield attended several of their presentations, which were given in a large tent. The account which Iliff most vividly recalled was by a speaker who claimed to have been involved with the X-15 program for the past several years, and that he was on active duty with the Air Force at Edwards AFB. Greenfield was aware of his presentation, and made sure that he and Iliff were there for his talk. Iliff recalled there were about 70 or 80 people on hand. As with the other speakers, he had books for sale at the back of the tent.

The main part of his talk dealt with his experiences during an X-15 flight. The man said that he had been in the NASA control room, with an important function to perform. His story was that on this particular flight, the X-15 had been successfully launched from the B-52, fired its engine, and began the initial part of the flight plan. Suddenly, all communication with the X-15 and its pilot were lost, including telemetry, voice transmissions, and radar tracking. The X-15 had vanished without any warning.

A search operation was immediately launched, the speaker said, using both the regular chase planes and additional aircraft. Despite the search, no trace of the X-15 or its pilot could be found. Everyone at Edwards was very shocked and despondent. The speaker then said that after a long period of time, several hours as Iliff recalled, the X-15 suddenly reappeared on its planned flight trajectory. The aircraft was intact and the pilot was fine. The X-15 made its normal landing approach, and touched down on the lakebed at Edwards.

The speaker said that everybody involved in the control room and the search operation were elated at the safe landing, and that an impromptu celebration began. It was at this point that the speaker pointed out to the other people in the control room that something extraordinary had occurred. The X-15 could not fly for more than 15 minutes, and there was no way that it could have stayed aloft for as long as it had. He said the others in the control room abruptly realized that he was right.

He claimed that all the participants were sworn to secrecy about what had happened. The speaker said that, despite the security oath, he had to tell the truth about what had happened on the flight. The X-15 and its pilot had been taken aboard a UFO intact, examined for several hours, and then returned to where the aircraft had been flying.

Dr. Iliff is not certain that the speaker said that the X-15 story was in the book he had for sale at the back of the tent. This was Iliff’s impression, however. He recalled later, “I was so shocked by his bald-faced lie that I left immediately and did not actually open the book.”

After returning to the Flight Research Center, both Iliff and Greenfield told the story to co-workers, and they enjoyed “many good chuckles.” It was clear to all that the incident never happened. Some checking was done to see if the person ever had actually been at Edwards or had been associated with the X-15. Dr. Iliff’s recollection was that he had said that he was an officer, but after so many years he cannot be sure. Iliff also cannot now recall his name, or the name of his book. Iliff does recall that he and Greenfield were able to find some evidence that the person had been stationed at Edwards at one time. Iliff pointed out that this did not mean he ever had had any official capacity with the X-15 program. [5]

The ‘survivor story’ of the X-15 pilot has more to do with traditional melodrama than early flying saucer myth

There remain a number of unknowns regarding both the Giant Rock story that Dr. Iliff heard, and the similar story that Dr. Wood told Dr. McDonald several years later. The author’s attempts to identify the speaker and the title of the book were unsuccessful. Another open issue is the development of the story. By the early 1960s the idea that flying saucers were responsible for the disappearances of aircraft and their crews was already part of flying saucer mythology. The implications were that these disappearances were indications of the aliens’ hostile intent, and that the abductions were carried out to gain samples of both human technology and humans themselves. There were no claims that individuals or aircraft which had “disappeared” ever came back, however.

The “survivor story” of the X-15 pilot has more to do with traditional melodrama than early flying saucer mythology. Given this, another possibility is that it was influenced by popular culture. The 1960s was a golden age of television science fiction. Shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Star Trek were in first run at this time. All three programs had an episode with elements similar to the X-15 abduction story, but any direct connection is, at best, tentative.

In The Twilight Zone episode “And When the Sky Opened,” the X-20 and its three man crew were put into orbit, but disappeared from radar for 24 hours. After landing, each of the crewmen disappears one by one, with not even the memory of their existence or that of the X-20 remaining. The only hint of aliens is in the final narration, which says that “something or someone took them somewhere.” The episode was first telecast on December 11, 1959. The Outer Limits had an episode involving the X-15 as a plot element, titled “The Premonition.” In the story, the X-15, its pilot, and his wife are caught in a time warp. There is no hint that aliens are involved. A bigger problem with this being an inspiration for the abduction story is that the episode was first telecast on January 9, 1965. This was after Iliff recalls attending the Giant Rock convention.

The closest match is the “Tomorrow is Yesterday” episode of Star Trek. The Enterprise travels back in time to the 20th century, and is intercepted by an F-104. The aircraft is damaged during the encounter, and its pilot is then beamed aboard. However, there is the same problem in timing, as this Star Trek episode was not telecast until January 26, 1967. Again, this is several years too late. [6]

Another possibility is that the story was based on the events of a real X-15 flight, which was then embellished with a bogus UFO encounter. There was an X-15 flight during which the control room abruptly lost all telemetry, voice transmissions, and radar tracking data from the vehicle. The X-15 seemed to have vanished. It was eight minutes before a chase plane pilot spotted the X-15 as it made an emergency landing on Mud Lake. No flying saucers were involved in the incident, however. Capt. William J. Knight had experienced a failure of both Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), which supplied electrical and hydraulic power to the vehicle. This failure was caused by electrical arcing from an experiment, which overloaded the APUs and caused them to drop off line. This caused all radio and radar contact to be lost with the control room. With only an emergency battery still working, and little control over the X-15, Knight was able to restart one of the APUs, and land successfully on Mud Lake.

The circumstances of Knight’s X-15 flight were similar to those told by the speaker at Giant Rock (but without aliens). The possibility that this was the original source of the abduction story has the same problem as The Outer Limits and Star Trek episodes. The X-15 flight took place on June 29, 1967. When Dr. Iliff was specifically asked if this could have been the inspiration for the story, he said that the flight took place long after he had heard the story. [7]

A final unknown in the case of the vanishing X-15 pilot was how Gene May’s name became involved in it. Dr. Iliff said that he was “90 percent sure” that the speaker did not name the pilot involved in the alleged incident. Iliff was completely certain that if the speaker had mentioned Gene May, he would have remembered it. In Dr. Wood’s account, however, the pilot was specifically identified as Douglas test pilot Gene May.

Ultimately, the story is a minor issue. It did not play a role in the development of the flying saucer myth. The story also does not seem to have been repeated in any later publication. Yet, it is a tale which has value. The importance of the story is not due to the narrative itself, but rather in what it says about the believers’ views of what represents evidence, and how this is weighed.

“Truth” vs. the Facts

The Gene May abduction story makes clear the role of the “sighting” in the flying saucer myth. In the 1940s and 1950s, when the belief system originated, Air Force reports and documents from other agencies were classified. As a result, the sighting reports collected by the believers were the only evidence available. These testimonials of what the witnesses had seen and experienced had to be judged on subjective grounds, such as the witnesses’ status, perceived reliability, and “sincerity.” Those sightings judged to be “real” flying saucers were then collected, and published in the believers’ books as “proof” that flying saucers were interplanetary spaceships. This was the standard format of the flying saucer books published beginning in the 1950s, and continuing into the 1970s.

When documentary evidence indicated that the sighting was in error, did not occur as described, or was totally false, it was ignored or dismissed by the believers. If proof was lacking, the writers could claim that this was because of the “cover-up” by the Air Force. The cover-up also meant that believers also had an excuse for not fully investigating a sighting. The Air Force had removed all the evidence, and silenced all the witnesses. As a result, there was no use in making follow-up investigations of a report.

Both of these effects can be seen in the case of the vanishing X-15 pilot. Dr. Wood was told the story of Gene May’s abduction by a colleague at Vandenberg AFB. Dr. Wood judged the source to be “very reliable,” as he said that he knew Gene May well. Dr. Wood was employed by Douglas, as was May. Dr. Wood could have followed up the abduction story by making a phone call to company headquarters, and asking about May’s involvement with the X-15 program. He could have also called the NASA Flight Research Center or Edwards AFB, and inquired about any records of May’s X-15 flights. Dr. Wood, it appears, did none of these things. He simply accepted the source’s account, and told Dr. McDonald about it.

More than half a century after the birth of the flying saucer myth, both the world and beliefs about flying saucers are very different. The UFO related documents in the Blue Book files, as well as those of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other government agencies, are now available. The Freedom of Information Act has been in effect for some thirty years, while the 25-year rule allows anyone to simply ask for the release of old classified material. The end of the Cold War also means that many subjects once considered too sensitive to be discussed can now be openly talked about, by both sides. [8]

The same fundamental changes are also true of the flying saucer myth. In the mid to late 1970s, the traditional mythology began to be replaced by stories of crashed saucers, cattle mutilations, underground bases, secret treaties, reverse-engineered alien technology, abductions and hybrids, disinformation, free energy, and the whistleblowers. The Roswell incident became the center of the flying saucer belief system, while the Air Force cover up was replaced by MJ-12 and the secret government. Dr. Wood himself was representative of this change, as he is now one of the primary supporters of the bogus MJ-12 documents.

Despite this fundamental change in the mythology, for the believers, the eyewitness is still the primary evidence. Indeed, in many cases, it is the only acceptable evidence. If the eyewitnesses are contradicted by scientific analysis, historical records, or other factual evidence, it is the eyewitnesses who should be believed. The “truth” of the sighting is thus preserved in the face of mere facts. Such sighting reports thus become a secular version of religious miracle stories. [9]

Without Roswell, not only claims of a secret government, but the whole basis for the exopolitics myth no longer exists.

This mindset continues over three decades after Dr. Wood told Dr. McDonald about the X-15 abduction. When Druffel was researching her book, she talked to Dr. Wood. He provided more information about the case, but Druffel apparently never made any efforts to check the story. Again, it seems, the source was considered very reliable, the incident had been covered up, and so there was no point in further research.

A possible reason for the uncritical acceptance of such eyewitness accounts was made clear in unguarded comments by several figures involved in “exopolitics.” The first of these was by Dr. Michael Salla, during a debate on the UFO Updates web site regarding the validity of Robert Lazar’s claims of seeing captured alien flying saucers. In a reply to a posting by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, Dr. Salla wrote:

“How can we find out what’s going on with SAP/CAPs if we ignore the very whistleblowers telling us what’s happening because we can’t confirm their school records or some other arbitrary criterion a parsimonious researcher stipulates as a necessary condition? One might think they are doing ‘good science’ by raising the evidentiary bar up high that only watertight whistleblower testimonies make it over the hurdle. In the process, you eliminate witnesses like Lazar, and all you have left are those like former FAA Air Chief John Callahan with some records of radar sightings of fast moving UFOs around a Japanese Jumbo jet, and evidence that the government didn’t want the FAA seriously investigating this. If that’s the sort of hard evidence with credible whistleblower testimony that will be universally accepted, then this field of UFO research will grow very very slowly, lose innovative researchers capable of understanding what’s going on in the SAPs/CAPs dealing with ETV/EBE research, and become increasingly irrelevant to the general public who seek answers to what is happening.” [10]

The implication of Salla’s posting seemed to be that all the “good” witnesses had no evidence to back up their tales. In contrast, all the witnesses who could document who they are and what they saw could only provide “run of the mill” sightings which were little different from those collected a half century ago. An even more damning admission was in an essay posted on the web site of Alfred Lambremont Webre, J.D., M.Ed. (Canada), who describes himself as “…an author, futurist, lawyer (member of the District of Columbia Bar), peace advocate, environmental activist, space activist and is known as the founding father of exopolitics.” The essay, titled, “Exopolitical review of Peter Jennings’ Primetime TV show ‘Seeing is Believing’,” was written by “PJ, Exopolitics Advisor and Researcher.” In the essay, “PJ” notes that the special “deframed” the Roswell claims (i.e. accepted that the debris was from a Mogul balloon). He then wrote:

“Without Roswell or other such crashes, there is little evidence or logic to validate the issue of a secret government.” [11]

Here, the implications were even more far reaching. A case can be made that without Roswell, not only claims of a secret government, but the whole basis for the exopolitics myth no longer exists. Moreover, popular ufology itself for the past three decades also becomes nothing more than an ever expanding spiral of fantasy, delusions, mistakes, hoaxes, and wishful thinking. This spiral also brings us back to the Gene May abduction story.

The Life and Times of Gene May

Looking back on the story he had heard at Giant Rock, Dr. Iliff commented that, “I was astonished that any one would tell such an absolute lie when it was easy to check his assertions.”

When the X-15 program started in 1954, it was simply the latest in a series of research aircraft. This changed with the launch of the first satellite, Sputnik 1, by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. In the post-Sputnik political environment, the X-15 became “America’s first spaceship,” and the program engineers found themselves working in a fishbowl of press attention. The rollout of the first X-15 on October 15, 1958 was a press event. On hand were Vice President Richard M. Nixon, senior Air Force, NASA, and North American Aviation officials, as well as X-15 pilots A. Scott Crossfield (North American), Capt. Robert White (Air Force) and Joe Walker (NASA). [12] When X-15 flights began in June of 1959, the press was on hand at Edwards AFB to report the events. In addition to newspaper and television coverage, there were also books published during the early 1960s on the program. One of these was X-15 Diary, written by Richard Tregaskis. Published in 1961, the book describes Tregaskis’ day-by-day, first-hand observations and experiences covering the X-15. He had access to the pilots, engineers, and other personnel. He described the goals, achievements, and problems they experienced. [13]

This was a remarkable degree of access for a reporter, but it highlighted the fact that the X-15 program was being conducted in the open. The flight plans, flight transcripts, pilot debriefings, flight maps, and other internal documents for each flight were unclassified. As Dr. Iliff later noted, only some of the aeronautical data from the flights was actually classified at the time. This material has subsequently been declassified; there are no classifications or export control restrictions on X-15 program information.

In the years since the X-15 program ended in 1968, additional books have been published. These include X-15 pilot Milton O. Thompson’s book At The Edge Of Space, as well as Robert Godwin’s X-15 The NASA Mission Reports, and Dennis R. Jenkins and Tony R. Landis’ Hypersonic: The Story of the North American X-15. These and the other later books on the X-15 also include flight logs of its 199 missions. These provide such information as dates, pilot names, as well as the speeds and altitudes reached by the X-15 for each flight. Hypersonic lists not only this information, but also the names of the B-52 pilots and launch panel operators, the chase plane pilots, and the NASA 1 ground controller for each X-15 flight.

Had Dr. Wood, Druffel or the readers of Firestorm checked any of these sources, they would have discovered that Gene May is never once mentioned in any of them as having any connection with the X-15 program. May never appeared at any press conferences; he never gave a speech or interview, never flew a chase plane, was never aboard the B-52 launch aircraft, never served as NASA 1, and never, ever, flew the X-15.

Gene May was born on September 28, 1904, less that a year after the first powered flights by the Wright Brothers. May subsequently became an experienced airline pilot. May then joined Douglas Aircraft Co. as a test pilot in 1941. Over the next five years, he test flew the A-20, A-26, and XB-42 light bombers, the AD-1 Navy attack aircraft, the C-74 and C-54 military transports, and the DC-6 airliner. [14] He had a reputation of being able to note the subtle features of an aircraft’s behavior, and then communicate this to the engineers in terms they could understand. He also had the wisdom to know when to back off. By the late 1940s, he had accumulated some 10,000 hours of flight time.

May was then selected as the test pilot for the Douglas D-558-I Skystreak. This was a Navy-sponsored jet-powered research aircraft designed to fly at speeds approaching Mach 1. May was now 42 years old, and a grandfather. In all, he made a total of 121 flights in the Skystreak, including the airplane’s only supersonic flight, on September 29, 1948. This was the day after his 44th birthday.

He was also involved in the initial test flights of the Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. This aircraft used both a jet engine and a rocket engine, and was designed to fly above Mach 1. Although both aircraft shared the same designation, they were completely different designs. The Skystreak had straight wings and a stubby, cylindrical fuselage. The Skyrocket had an elongated bullet-shaped fuselage with swept-back wings, tail and stabilizers. May made a total of 133 flights in the Skyrocket. His last test flight was made on December 1, 1949, in a D-558-II.

Accounts vary as to why May, who was then 45-years old, left flight testing. The popular consensus was that he failed his flight physical, and was removed from the program. Another suggestion made was that May had done a great many very dangerous things while at Douglas, and he felt that his luck had about run out. May continued to work for Douglas Aircraft Co. for several more years. He was named the Chief of Flight Operations at Douglas’ Tulsa Oklahoma plant, where B-47s were being built under license from Boeing. According to a magazine article, May was checked out in the B-47 in 1951. However, this did not apparently involve any test work, but rather was simply a check ride in an aircraft.

May left Douglas in about 1953, becoming a vice president at Superior Cutter Co., which made cutting tools. In 1957, May was working at R.L. Polk. He left Polk in about 1959, and returned to flying. May was hired as a pilot for Alamo Airways in Las Vegas, Nevada. He flew Cessna 310s, which were small twin-piston engine light aircraft. Gene May died on December 5, 1966, at 62 years of age.

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