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Fri, Oct 03, 2003

Skill and Bravery Rewarded With Kincheloe Award

Tom Macdonald, V-22 Chief Test Pilot

The Osprey may some day become a viable transport vehicle for the armed services. If it does, then a lot of the credit will go to Tom Macdonald, whose skill and daring took what has long been a flying boondoggle to the edges of its performance envelope, and beyond -- and who helped find just where some of those critical, heretofore-masked limits lie.

Ward Carroll, NAVAIR (V-22) Public Affairs, has apprised us of Macdonald's latest and greatest award:

Tom Macdonald, the V-22 Integrated Test Team's Chief Test Pilot, was recently awarded the Society of Experimental Test Pilot's prestigious Iven C. Kincheloe Award for 2003. The Society awards the Kincheloe each year in recognition of outstanding professional accomplishment in the conduct of flight testing. The award was established in memory of Captain Iven C. Kincheloe, Jr., USAF, who died in 1958 during a test flight in an F-104 Starfighter. This year's award was announced at the Society's annual convention in Los Angeles.

"I'm very surprised," Macdonald said with his characteristic humility. "I'm honored by the personal recognition, but I consider this an award for the entire V-22 team." [With all due respect to the team, Tom, you are the guy who flew it --ed.]

Macdonald joins an august list of previous Kincheloe winners including Scott Crossfield, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Dick Rutan.

Kids, DON'T Try This at Home:

Macdonald, who has accumulated nearly 700 hours of flight time in the V-22, was the first test pilot in history to fully define a high rate of descent - low airspeed envelope for a helicopter-like aircraft. In order to accurately define the Osprey's operating envelope, he repeatedly flew the aircraft to test points that were at once close to load limits, flapping limits, and the aerodynamic departure boundary. As he hit these test points he discovered that the V-22's prop/rotor gave off few physical cues to the pilot as the aircraft approached the departure boundary, or "Vortex Ring State," as the phenomenon is known in rotary wing circles. Macdonald flew the Osprey into departures and verified the proposed recovery technique.

This skilled flying along with his recommendations for the type and placement of a pilot high rate of descent warning system will ensure the Osprey is safe and operational for fleet pilots in the future.

"Tom flew every flight in a test program where no test pilot has been before," said Fred Madenwald, recent V-22 flight test director. "His leadership, piloting skills, and timely judgment carried this testing phase to a successful conclusion. It should also be noted that he did
all of this under the intense scrutiny of the Department of Defense, with the fate of the V-22 program in the balance."

"We're very proud of Tom," said Col. Craig Olson, V-22 Joint Program Manager. "Because of the revolutionary nature of the Osprey it's fitting that he would get this award on the centennial of flight, and that on a broader scale the V-22 program would be recognized for its great accomplishments this year."

The Kincheloe Award has almost always been awarded to military pilots and astronauts; but this is not the first time it has been awarded to a tiltrotor pilot. In 1980, Dorman A. Cannon, and Ronald G. Erhart, of Bell Helicopter Textron, received the Award for the Osprey's godfather, the Tilt Rotor XH5.



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