When I reported to Wright Field in the summer of 1945, the personnel looked at my records and saw that I was a fighter pilot, but the one thing that caught their eye was that I was a maintenance officer, meaning that I had been trained as a crew chief in aviation maintenance, and then when I served in my fighter squadron in combat, I served as the maintenance officer. You know, running the crew chiefs and the maintenance guys. When I got back, they saw this, and there was a vacancy in a fighter test section there in the flight test division that needed a maintenance officer. And they assigned me there. I had hangars full of every kind of airplane that we were flying. It was interesting to me, because I got to fly every airplane. After they were worked on, then the maintenance officer had to take them up and check all the systems out, and sign them off, and then you turn them over to the test pilots to do their test work in them.
And that’s how I got to Wright Field.
Now, over the next year, or six months, I put on many air shows in jets all over the United States. Colonel Boyd, who was chief of the flight test division, watched a few of those air shows and he was impressed. He noticed also that me being a maintenance officer, I never had any trouble with my airplanes. If something happened to them, I could fix them, and I always brought them home. So, that’s when he approached me in December, 1945. He said, “Would you like to go to the test pilot school?” I said, “Well, I only have a high school education and it might be kind of tough for me, the academic requirements.” He said, “No, you can make out.” And so I went into the test pilot school, and that’s what got me started in the test program. And then later, when the X-1 came along, in 1947, he selected me for the test program. And the reason he did was that I understood machinery, and obviously could fly an airplane.