Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Maj Phil Neale 1930-1965

With Dassault Balzac

in cockpit of XV-5A

With the CL-757

Major Phillip E. Neale Jr was born in El Paso, Texas on the 24th January 1930. He graduated from Las Cruces New Mexico High School where he distinguished himself as a letter man in three sports and served as president of the student body. He worked his way through college and won his letter in football for 3 years, service as co-captain in his senior year. His collegiate activities merited his inclusion in the Who’s Who of American Universities. He graduated from New Mexico State University in January 1952 with a degree in Agricultural Engineering and he received his commission in the USAF through his campus ROTC.

He entered active service 7th April 1952. He received his pilot training (Primary and basic) at Stallings AFB, North Carolina and Bryan AFB, Texas, graduating as a jet qualified pilot. In succeeding months he graduated from the Day Fighter Gunnery School, Nellis AFB, Nevada, the Jet Instrument School, Moody AFB, Georgia and the All Weather Interceptor School, Perrin AFB, Texas. While assigned to Kirtland AFB he flew F-86’s for two years with the 93rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. His next assignment took him overseas to Germany where he served with the 525th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Bitburg.

He returned at the end of this tour to the Zone of Interior and was assigned 3rd January 1959 as a student in the USAF Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. While there, he continued the excellent work characteristic of his collegiate and early military career. He graduated first in flying, receiving the Ekerern Award and he was rated second in overall proficiency in his graduating class. Major Neale then served for two years as an instructor in the Pilot School before being named as chief of the newly established Aerospace Research Pilot’s training and research division. While an instructor he co-authored two handbooks which are still used as the basic text books in the Performance phase of flight testing. He became qualified in rotary wing aircraft and then instructed a special US Army test pilot course using the UH-1A helicopter. While temporarily grounded for physical reasons he was assigned the task of writing, promoting and managing an Engineering Service Project which ultimately resulted in the school receiving 18 additional century series aircraft, 17 additional officer positions, and approximately $15 million for aircraft modifications. He also co-authored a Qualitative Operational Requirement for an Advanced Aerospace Trainer. For his work at the school he received the Air Force Commendation Medal.

In September 1963 he was reinstated to flying status and assigned to the V/STOL branch of the Directorate of Flight Test Operations. He flew test programs on several models of the UH-1 and the CH3C helicopters, made evaluation flights on XV-5A and XC-142 experimental aircraft. He was considered and expert in the field of V/STOL aircraft. He was sent to the French Flight Test Centre (CEV) as the pilot member of a four man USAF Test Team to evaluate the Dassault Balzac, a nine-engined jet direct lift aircraft. He was killed on September 8, 1965 when the Dassault Balzac crashed during a test flight from Bretigny, near Paris, France.