The test pilot who many test pilots acknowledge as the "Dean of Test Flight" died last week. Fitshugh "Fitz" Fulton died at his home in Los Angeles from complications of Parkinson's Disease. He was 89. Fulton tested everything from sailplanes to the YF-12 (predecessor of the SR-71) during his 40-year career and was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1999. He received four Distinguished Flying Crosses and numerous other awards and flew combat missions in Korea in an A-26. He also set an altitude record in a B-58 bomber by going up to 85,360 feet.
Likely his most famous role was as the commander of the Boeing 747 that carried the space shuttle test vehicle. He was also the remote control pilot of a Boeing 720 intentionally crashed in the desert to test fire-resistant fuel in airliners. After a long career with the military and NASA, he ended his flying life working for Burt Rutan's upstart Scaled Composites, flying the innovator's varied designs.
"Fitz" Fulton was also a Tooter who was the proud owner of the Little Toot pictured here.