account of the 1980 volcanic eruption of Mt. St Helens.
ONCE-IN-A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE
Randy Neville (Ret), former F-106 Instructor Pilot with McChord's 318th FIS "Green Dragons", relays his account of what was in his words was a "once-in-a lifetime experience" when he and his fellow Squadron mate witnessed the eruption Mt. Saint Helens from a T-33A T-Bird flying thousands of feet in the air over Washington State.
COLONEL RANDY NEVILLE
The then Captain Randy Neville , (left) former F-106 Instructor Pilot with the McChord's 318th FIS, is pictured above with fellow 318th Pilot Capt. Mark Debolt after a William Tell practice flight at McChord AFB in October 1982.
After attending pilot training at Williams AFB, Neville then joined the Air Defense Weapons Center's 95th Fighter-Interceptor Training Squadron, and later with the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Keflavik NAS, Iceland.
In March 1980 the then Captain joined McChord's 318th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
, which at that time flew the Lockheed
T-33A Shooting Star proficiency trainer and the F-106A/B Delta Dart Interceptor.
three years with the "Green Dragons" Neville
proved to be one of the Squadrons best Pilots, performing as one of the Squadrons, Instructor and Evaluation pilot and Flight Commander.
In 1982 the then Captain was selected for the team of "Top Gun's" to represent won the right to represent in the Squadron at the premier Worldwide Air Defense Weapons Competition, the 1982 William Tell Air-to-Air Weapons Meet, and the last for the Squadron in the F-106.
tour with the 318th FIS, the then Captain was assigned to F-106A s/n 56-0459, a former test airplane that in 1959 was used to make an attempt at the World's Speed Record in 1959 which was later accomplished by another F-106.
After researching the airplanes history in the Speed Record project (Operation Firewall) Neville sought approval from higher headquarters to attempt a new speed record in F-106 -0459, unfortunately the approval was never granted.
As the squadron began retiring F-106's in favor of the F-15's, # -0459 was selected to remain at the Base and join the newly established McChord Air Museum
After the 318th conversion to from the F-106 into the F-15 Eagle, Neville joined his first overseas unit, the F-16 equipped 401st Tactical Fighter Wing's 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron Torrejon, Spain, later he would be back in the states with the 3246 Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, FL conducting weapons development tests on the F-4 and F-16. and In his final assignment Neville was appointed as Director of Flight Operations for the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB.
After a 20 year career Randy Neville retired from the Air Force in 1996.
Shortly after the end of his Air Force career, Neville continued his tie with high performance aircraft with his employment as a Test Pilot with Boeing's F-22 Fight Test Organization during the fighters early development.
time in Seattle, Neville
would also work with Boeing's Commercial Flight Test organization
, testing many of the company's newest Commercial Airplane derivatives.
As the F-22 program moved into the active flight test (airframe and avionics testing), Neville relocated to Edwards AFB, CA, and began flying the F-22, as well as the F-16, which is routinely use as a chase aircraft.
Neville was the primary pilot responsible for expanding the Raptor's flight envelope, or maneuverability capabilities.
In 2004 Neville became the first Raptor pilot to reach the 500-hour mark.
With more than 600 hours in the F-22
is still (2009) the Raptors high-time pilot.
Neville also was a technical advisor in the making of the movie "The Hulk" and played an F-22 fighter pilot in the movie.
In 2005, Neville
joined the 787 test program as an engineering test pilot for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
As an engineering test pilot, Neville conducts flight tests of new airplane designs, establishing the basic airworthiness of the airplane and verifying that it functions as designed.
On December 15, 2009, Chief Test Pilot Mike Carriker and First Officer Randy Neville were at the controls of the 787 during its long awaited maiden flight over Western Washington State . The pilots spent three hours putting the 787 through its paces, before landing at Boeing Field in Seattle.