John B. "Jack" McKay
Born on December 8, 1922, in Portsmouth, Va., McKay graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 195O with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
During World War II he served as a Navy pilot in the Pacific Theater, earning the Air Medal and Two Clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation.
McKay was with the NACA and NASA from February 8,1951 until October 5, 1971 and specialized in high-speed flight research programs.
He began as an NACA intern, but assumed pilot status on July 11, 1952.
In addition to the X-l5, he
flew such experimental aircraft as the D-558-1, D-558-2, X-lB, and the X-lE.
He has also served as a research pilot on flight programs involving the F-100, F-102, F-104, and the F-107.
was one of the first pilots assigned to the X-15
flight research program at NASA's Flight Research Center
, Edwards, Calif. As a civilian research pilot and aeronautical engineer, he
made 30 flights in X-15s from October 28, 1960, until September 8, 1966.
peak altitude was 295,600 feet, and his
highest speed was 3863 mph (Mach 5.64).
On November 9th, 1962 Jack McKay
was piloting the X-15
After launching from the B-52 mothership at 45,000 feet and lighting the XLR-99 rocket engine, McKay
was radioed by Pete Knight, who was the flight communicator in the NASA control room, to check his throttle position.
verified it was at the full throttle position and was advised by Knight that the engine was only putting out 30 percent thrust.
Knight radioed for a Mud Lake landing and McKay
began a preplanned series of actions to make an emergency landing.
The strut of the left main landing gear failed on touchdown turning the aircraft sideways and then rolling it upside down and trapping McKay
seat with his
head next to the lakebed surface.
Prior to rolling over McKay
had the forethought to jettison the canopy.
The emergency crew that was pre-stationed at the site immediately moved into action.
The Air Force helicopter hovered over the X-15 blowing away the pungent fumes of the anhydrous ammonia still venting from the aircraft while the ground crew was able to dig a hole in the lakebed to provide enough clearance to extract McKay
from the cockpit.
flew the X-15
again, but he
was an inch shorter due to crushed vertebra.
Mckay died on April 27, 1975; due in part to the injuries he suffered in the accident of November 9th, 1962.