Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lt. Col. Tommie D. "Doug" Benefield 1929-1984

Tommie D. "Doug" Benefield was the Chief Test Pilot on the B-1 Bomber. He attained the top speed for a B-1 at Mach 2.2 on October 5, 1978. Benefield was Senior Engineering Test Pilot for Rockwell International at the time of his death on August 29, 1984, when his B-1 crashed during a test flight near Edwards Air Force Base.
Benefield's flying career began immediately after his graduation from Texas A&M in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He earned his pilot wings in August 1950 and flew combat missions over Korea in 1950. Later, he flew 176 combat missions in F-4s over Southeast Asia. Benefield graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School in 1955 and the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School (Space Course) in 1962. After graduation, he remained at Edwards as a test pilot until 1966. There he tested and determined the unusual stall characteristics of the C-133.
A specialist in bomber/transport operations, he was loaned to the Federal Aviation Administration as a test pilot for the United States Supersonic Transport Program. He also assisted with the certification of the British/French Concorde. Benefield retired from the Air Force in 1973 and joined Rockwell International as a test pilot for the B-1 Bomber. He was appointed Chief Test Pilot in 1983.
He logged over 11,000 hours in many different aircraft, including the F-4, F-102, B-1, C-124, C-130 Hercules, C-133, C-141, T-39 and SA-16. Benefield was a Past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He was awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Octave Chanute Flight Award in 1977. The Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards was named in his honor.