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Robert M. White - former USAF Airbase Bitburg - Germany
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member eilers1
N 49° 56.704 E 006° 32.581
32U E 323724 N 5535417
Quick Description: At a wall of one of the flats of former base housing is this mural representing Robert M. White. He was X-15 pilot and commander of the USAF Airbase Bitburg in the period 1964-1965.
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Date Posted: 10/12/2015 12:42:38 PM
Waymark Code: WMPRA0
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 2

Long Description:
Robert M. White (from Wikipedia)

Robert Michael "Bob" White (July 6, 1924 – March 17, 2010), (Maj Gen, USAF), was an American military aircraft test pilot, fighter pilot, electrical engineer, and a Major general in the United States Air Force. White broke a number of records with the North American X-15 experimental aircraft during the 1960s, and supervised the design and development of several modern military aircraft.

White was born in New York City on 6 July 1924. He entered active military service in November 1942 as an aviation cadet in the United States Army Air Forces, and received his pilot wings and commission as a Second Lieutenant in February 1944.

During World War II he served with the 355th Fighter Group in the European Theater of Operations, where he flew P-51 Mustangs from July 1944 until February 1945 when he was shot down over Germany on his 52nd combat mission. He was captured and remained a prisoner of war until his release in April 1945. He then returned to the United States, left active duty in December 1945, and became a member of the Air Force Reserve at Mitchel Air Force Base, New York, while studying Electrical Engineering at New York University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from New York University in 1951, and a Master of Business Administration from the George Washington University in 1966.

White was recalled to active duty in May 1951, during the Korean War, where he served as pilot and engineering officer with the 514th Troop Carrier Wing at Mitchel Air Force Base. In February 1952 he was assigned as a fighter pilot and flight commander with the 40th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, based at Johnson Air Base, Japan. In August 1953, he returned from overseas to serve as a systems engineer at Rome Air Development Center, Griffiss Air Force Base, New York.

White attended the U.S. Air Force's Experimental Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and became a test pilot, flying advanced models such as the F-86 Sabre, F-89 Scorpion, the new F-102 Delta Dagger, the F-104 Starfighter and the F-105 Thunderchief. He was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Flight Test Operations Division, later becoming Assistant Chief of the Manned Spacecraft Operations Branch.

White was designated the Air Force's primary pilot for the North American X-15 program in 1958. While the new plane was undergoing its initial tests, he attended the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, graduating in 1959. He made his first test flight of the X-15 on April 15, 1960, when the aircraft was fitted with two interim, 16,000 lbf (71 kN) thrust rocket engines. Four months later he flew to an altitude of 136,000 ft (41.5 km, above Rogers Dry Lake. White would have participated in the Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program, had it come to fruition.

In February 1961, White unofficially set a new air speed record when he flew the X-15 at a speed of 2,275 mph (3,660 km/h), following the installation of a 57,000 lbf (254 kN) thrust XLR-99 engine. White was the first human to fly an aircraft at Mach 4 and later Mach 5 over the next eight months. On 9 November 1961, White flew the X-15 at 4,093 mph (6,590 km/h), making him the first pilot to fly a winged craft at six times the speed of sound (Mach 6). President John F. Kennedy used the occasion to confer the most prestigious award in American aviation, the Robert J. Collier Trophy, jointly to White and three of his fellow X-15 pilots; NASA's Joseph A. Walker, Commander Forrest S. Petersen of the U.S. Navy, and North American Aviation test pilot Scott Crossfield. A day later, Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis E. LeMay awarded White his new rating as a Command Pilot Astronaut.

On 17 July 1962, Major White flew the X-15 to an altitude of 314,750 feet (59 miles, 96 km). This qualified him for an Astronaut Badge, becoming the first "Winged Astronaut", and one of a few who have flown into space without a conventional spacecraft. Major Bob White was featured with a cover story in the August 3d, 1962 issue of LIFE magazine, detailing his July 17, 1962 flight.

Pilot Robert White commented on his high altitude X-15 flights, "My flights to 217,000 feet [66 km] and 314,750 feet [96 km] were very dramatic in revealing the Earth's curvature ... at my highest altitude I could turn my head through a 180-degree arc and wow! — the Earth is really round. At my peak altitude I was roughly over the Arizona/California border in the area of Las Vegas, and this was how I described it: Looking to my left I felt I could spit into the Gulf of California; looking to my right I felt I could toss a dime into San Francisco Bay."

In October 1963 he returned to Germany, where he served as operations officer for the 22d Tactical Fighter Squadron, 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying F-105 Thunderchiefs at Bitburg Air Base, and from July 1964 to August 1965 as commander of the wing's 53d Tactical Fighter Squadron. He returned to the United States in August 1965 to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C., and graduated a year later. Lieutenant Colonel White then was transferred to Air Force Systems Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as chief of the Tactical Systems Office, F-111 Systems Program Office, where he served from September 1966 to May 1967.

In May 1967, during the Vietnam War, Colonel White was assigned as Deputy Commander for Operations of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, an F-105 unit based at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. He flew 70 combat missions over North Vietnam, including leading an attack against the Paul Doumer Bridge in Hanoi on August 11, 1967, for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross. He was transferred in October to the Seventh Air Force Headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, serving as chief of the Attack Division in the Directorate of Combat Operations.

White returned to the United States and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in June 1968, where he served as director of the F-15 Eagle Systems Program, responsible for managing development and production planning, in the Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command.

On 31 July 1970, White assumed duties as Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, where he was responsible for research and developmental flight testing of manned and unmanned aerospace vehicles, aircraft systems, deceleration devices and for the Air Force Test Pilot School. During his tenure as Commander, testing was begun on such important programs as the F-15 Air Superiority Fighter, the A-X ground attack aircraft, and the Airborne Warning and Control System. In October 1971 he completed the Naval Test Parachutist course and was awarded parachutist's wings.

He served at the Flight Test Center until 17 October 1972. The following month, he assumed the duties of Commandant, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), responsible for the entire AFROTC officer accession program at all colleges and universities across the United States. In February 1975, he received his second star and in March became Chief of Staff of the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force.

White was promoted to the grade of Major general effective February 12, 1975, with date of rank July 1, 1972. He retired from active duty on February 1, 1981.

In 1992, White was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor. General White was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, on 15 July 2006. A rumor abounds that in honor of his achievements, the Scaled Composites White Knight spacecraft launch plane was named after White and fellow X-15 pilot Pete Knight. Space Ship One and White Knight pilot/astronaut Brian Binnie reports this is not true.

He died March 17, 2010, at the age of 85.

Bitburg Airport
(from Wikipedia)

Bitburg Airport (German: Flugplatz Bitburg) (IATA: BBJ, ICAO: EDRB) is a commercial airport serving Bitburg, a city in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany. It is located 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Bitburg, 32 km (20 mile) north of Trier, and 217 km (135 miles) west of Wiesbaden.


Prior to its current civilian usage, Bitburg Air Base was a front-line NATO base from 1952–1994, until after the Cold War. It was the home of the United States Air Force's 36th Fighter Wing for over 40 years as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe.

Under contract with the United States Air Force, the French Army began construction of what would become the base in Western Germany's Eifel Mountains in early 1951. Located in the French occupation zone, construction began on farm land that had been a Wehrmacht tank staging and supply area for the Battle of the Bulge in early 1944. The air base and its housing area occupied nearly 1,100 acres (445 ha), with a 8,200-foot (2,500 m) long runway (with 1,000-foot (300 m) overruns at each end, total length would be 10,200 ft).

In July 1952, the 53rd Fighter-Bomber Squadron from the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing, from Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base a few miles west of Munich, arrived at the newly built base. Throughout the summer, elements of the 36th FBW moved into Bitburg, with the wing officially arriving in November 1952.

With the end of the Cold War Bitburg was no longer needed as a military base, and it was turned over to the German government on 1 October 1994. Between June and September 1997 it was necessary to repair the Spangdahlem Air Base runway, called for a temporary location to accommodate the 52d Fighter Wing's three squadrons of F-15s and F-16s. Bitburg Airport was the most logical place—only 10 miles (16 km) down the road. The USAF departed for the second time in September 1997, and Bitburg Airport was returned to the civil aircraft which now call it home.

On September 15, 2008, the Ministry of Transport of Rhineland-Palatinate granted the airport contractor landing rights for aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 14 tonnes, and the use of IFR traffic rules upon arrival and departure. The airport contracting company is currently evaluating plans to develop the airport into a regional freight airport.

Airlines and destinations

There are no scheduled services to and from Bitburg Airport.
City: Bitburg

Location Name: Flats former base housing

Media: painting on stone/plaster

Artist: Not listed

Date: Not listed

Relevant Web Site: Not listed

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