"I Look Forward To Putting On My Flight Suit Every
By ANN Correspondent Rob Milford
Most aviators would like
to think they have the “best” job in the business. At
least, that's what they'll tell you. This time, however, we may
have found the one person who really does.
Major General Doug Pearson, is the commander of the Air Force
Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base (CA). Just sorta gives
you chills typing it. We found him at the VIP viewing area at
the Wright Brothers National Monument on Wednesday. He was to
witness “first-hand” what the first two test pilots did
a century ago.
ANN: What’s new and exciting at
Pearson: We have 9 F-22’s on the
ramp… all in different parts of the developmental test
program. This spring, operational tests will begin, including
air-to-air and air combat maneuvering.
ANN: So, you get to wave at the aircraft when
they go zooming off each day?
Pearson: Much better than that. I’m
checked out in it. As of now, I’m the only General officer
flying the aircraft.
ANN (jaw dropping) How does it fly?
Pearson: Well, I started out in F-4’s and
went on to F-15’s. I’ve flown around one hundred
different aircraft, and the F-22 is awesome. It is, by far, the
easiest to fly, anywhere from zero to Mach 2. It talks to you. The
mission avionics are a real dream. They have worked out so many of
the software issues, and I look forward to putting on my flight
suit every morning.
ANN: What else is new on the ramp?
Pearson: The YAL-1, the flying
battle laser, the 747, is undergoing mods right now. They’re
installing the optics, the mirrors, and they will fly with the
laser in the spring.
ANN: What else?
Pearson: The Global Hawk is on the ramp, and
they continue to do a lot of flying. We have a pair of CV-22
Ospreys, and they’re doing low altitude and terrain following
work right now.
The C-130J has still got some testing, and the X-45 and X-43 are
being tested by NASA.
of which, are they still flying that NB-52B? I remember seeing it
on the ramp at Kelly AFB in San Antonio, when it came out of
overhaul…with all those hash marks for hundreds of test
Pearson: That has been retired, and is going in
the museum. It’s been replaced with a B-52H that came from
the operational fleet. It’s a lot easier to support. Funny
thing about that old B-52…for being close to 50 years old,
it only had about 3,000 hours of flight time on the airframe.
ANN: So how’s the business of making more
Pearson: It is a growth business. Leadership
understands the value of the investment, and we’re getting
our next generation of aerospace leaders from every class of test
pilots and engineers we graduate.
ANN: How’s does it work… the class
schedule and all?
Pearson: We run two classes a year…with
ten pilots and ten wizzos each. There are two classes per year.
They get some great flying experience in a variety of aircraft.
ANN: What’s your call sign?
Pearson: Aggie. I went to school at Texas
A&M, Class of 1969.
(His official Air Force bio shows Pearson with more than
4,000 of flight time, including a combat tour during the Vietnam