Robert White, the first pilot to exceed Mach 4, Mach 5 and Mach 6, and still the fastest pilot to ever fly a powered aircraft, has died at his home in Orlando, Florida, aged 82.
In 1961, White, then a USAF test pilot, took the Rockwell X-15 rocket plane beyond the milestone speeds in the skies around Edwards AFB in southern California. White had been a fighter pilot in WW2 on the P-51 Mustang, and after his test pilot stint, went on to fly more than 70 combat missions over Vietnam in the F-105 Thunderchief. He retired from the USAF in 1981 as a Major General.
Jim Young, chief historian at Edwards AFB, described White as an “icon,” adding, “He accomplished some things that were major milestones in the history of flight.”
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