Van Nuys Airport – Mar. 14, 2016: Just what kind of the “right stuff” does it take to wring bugs out of cutting edge aircraft?
National Test Pilot School Chief Operations Officer, Jim “JB” Brown, knows and he’s willing to share.
Lucky for KVNY’s Hawker Senior Squadron 128 members, who spent a riveting hour-and-a-half with one of America’s premiere military and civilian test pilots. The evening program was organized by Assistant Aerospace Education Officer, SM Robert Ross.
Brown is uniquely qualified to tell test pilot tales to air men and women.
A graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, Brown holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Virginia Military Institute and a MS in Management from Troy State University.
With over 8,900 hours logged in 123 different aircraft – both military and commercial – Brown boasts an alphabet soup’s worth of FAA certifications, including ATP, MEL, Commercial and CFI, SEL.
After starting his career in the U.S.A.F., Brown spent time flying for a commercial airline, then transitioned to Lockheed Martin. At Lockheed, he served as Chief Test Pilot for the F-117A stealth fighter, Chief Test Pilot for the F-22A and Chief of Flight Operations for Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works.
Brown’s test pilot credentials include A-7D Electronic Warfare platforms, F-15 A/B/C/D software, radar and weapons integration, F-15E initial development avionics, weapons, electronic warfare and propulsion and various still-classified aircraft prototypes.
Capping off his credentials, Brown is a Fellow of both the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He also belongs to the Order of Daedalians (a fraternal and professional order of American military pilots).
Recently retired from Lockheed, Brown joined the National Test Pilot School without so much as a two-week vacation. “I left work at Lockheed on a Friday and started work at the school the following Monday,” Brown told the Hawker Squadron.
Brown had no trouble holding his audience’s attention while walking Hawker Squadron through the curriculum at the National Test Pilot School.
Based at the former Marine air station in Mojave, California (KMHV), NTPS boasts a broad array of aircraft, including T-38 Talons, Aermacchi MB-326M Impalas, the Beech 76A Duchess, a Saberliner NA-265, two Bulgarian MIG-21s and an array of Cessna, Diamond and Cirrus single engine sleds. Helicopters include the Bell OH-58C Kiowa and the Bell 212/UH-1N.
NTPS fills out some 42,000 square feet of hangar and classroom space at Mojave, and has privileges to fly in normally restricted Military Operating areas (MOAs) controlled by nearby Edward Air Force Base.
“When you’re doing flight testing, it’s not a good idea to mix with regular traffic,” Brown observed.
The NTPS program offers a full year-long training program that culminates in a Masters of Science degree (Brown put the cost of that program at around US$1 million). Also offered are short, specialty courses, such as Introduction to FW Performance & Flying Qualities Flight Testing (teaching practical in-flight testing), Night Vision Imaging Systems Evaluation Techniques and RPV (Remotely Piloted Vehicle) Flight Testing,
Flight school students come from the U.S. (including agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration) and abroad.
What’s it take to saddle up at the National Test Pilot School. “Just bring money,” Brown said.
If only, if only.
SM Bill Daniels, Asst. PAO