THE TEST PILOT'S TEST PILOT
Albert Boyd, Circa 1947
Albert Boyd was born at Rankin, TN November 22, 1906. He has a good Web presence. A Google search for '"Albert Boyd" +general' yields over 600 hits as of the upload date of this page. He entered military service as a flying cadet in 1927 and rose through the ranks from 2nd Lieutenant in 1929 to Major General in 1952.
Between 1929 and 1934, Boyd was flight instructor and trained in maintenance and armament engineering at the Air Corps Training Center, Chanute Field, Rantoul, IL.
Boyd arrived as a 2nd Lieutenant at Tucson Tuesday, August 29 1933 at 1:15 PM flying what he identified as a Keystone B-4A bomber, 32-123. He carried a single passenger identified as Sgt. Hause. They were eastbound from Riverside, CA, March Field to El Paso, TX, Ft. Bliss. They remained on the ground 45 minutes. There was no purpose listed for their cross-country voyage.
During the 1930s he served in numerous management, operating and technical positions in the U.S. and abroad. He became internationally known for his knowledge of aerodynamics, aircraft performance characteristics, flight testing and training.
One of his most visible exercises during his post-WWII work was his establishment of a world's speed record flying an P-80R at 623.85 MPH (various sources disagree by a few hundredths of a MPH) over a measured course at Muroc, CA, June 19, 1947. This was a big deal, because the U.S. hadn't held the speed record for 24 years. Image, left, was taken as he emerged from the cockpit after breaking the record. His one-of-a-kind P-80R is currently on exhibit at the Air Force Museum.
He conceived the establishment of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base and served as its first commander during 1949-52.
Boyd was a benevolent, but unofficial, supporter of Pancho Barnes' "Happy Bottom Riding Club", a legendary Muroc desert watering hole and all-around party place that was popular with pilots. He is cited in two Barnes biographies: "Pancho" on page 168, and "The Lady Who Tamed Pegasus" on page 94.
In 1950, the Air Force Association gave him its Air Power Trophy. The citation, calling him a soldier, pilot and scientist, noted he had become known throughout the Air Force as the "Test Pilot's Test Pilot."
Over the years, Boyd also earned numerous military decorations and civilian honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Medaille de l'Aeronautique, as well as the Octave Chanute Award. He was an honorary member fo the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
In 1956, Boyd accompanied Register pilot General Nathan F. Twining, then Air Force Chief of Staff, on an eight-day trip to Russia, where they visited industrial and scientific establishments.
Boyd retired October 30, 1957 and and took a position as VP and general manager for the Defense and Space Group of the Westinghouse Electric Co., Washington, DC. He received the Westinghouse Order of Merit and left Westinghouse in 1962. In 1963 he joined General Dynamics in Fort Worth, TX as assistant to the president. He then moved to Avco Lycoming in Williamsport, PA where he was a consultant and engineering test pilot for seven years.
In 1963, he flew solo in a Cessna 310H across the Atlantic from Wichita, KS to Geneva, Switzerland.
He had accumulated over 23,000 flight hours (one source states 13,000 hours, suggesting a journalistic typo one way or the other) in over 300 different types of aircraft (311 by one accounting). He continued to be active as a pilot until shortly before his death.
Major General Boyd died October 1, 1976, age 69. He is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/17/08 REVISED: