Friday, March 5

Tex Johnston

Was the pilot who, at the controls of the only prototype of the Boeing 707, performed "the Gold Cup Roll" in full view of most of Seattle. As he recounted, after a chat with William Allen, CEO of Boeing, he allowed as how he wouldn't do such a thing in future, and he didn't even have to go work for another company to prove it. Prior to his Boeing flying, he was a pilot for Bell, including a flight in the X-1 (the aircraft that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in). He grounded the X-1, leading to improvements that gave Chuck the opportunity to "put the spurs to her." The roll is something I could see Rantwick doing just for the fun of it. Actually, me too...

Tex Johnston at the Controls of the Aircraft that Meant Everything to Boeing's Future
In Front of Tens of Thousands of Gold Cup Race Spectators. A Perfectly Safe Maneuver, its Impromptu Nature
Nearly Gave the Boeing Board of Directors Mass Heart Attacks. The Boeing CEO had a Chat with Tex.


Anonymous said...

Tex Johnston did not ground the X-1. This is totally false. HE had nothing to do with getting above the spped of sound

Steve A said...

I would refer you to Tex's book, "Jet-Age Pilot." I have no reason to doubt he grounded the X-1. When it took to the air again, THAT is when Chuck Yeager took the controls and broke the sound barrier. As you state, Tex's involvement did NOT extend to the post-grounding event, but otherwise, the man's account has high credibility. There are reproductions of the recommendation to ground the aircraft in the book.

From previous posts, there can be no doubt that I have the highest respect for Yeager's achievement (the right stuff is one of my favorite movies), but without Tex's actions, it might not have happened. Reference, from
the date that he flew the X-1 and from that, to the date that Chuck broke the sound barrier at

I stand by my post. The changes made to the X-1 as a result of Tex's involvement contributed to its eventual achievement. Few events in aviation are the result of a single individual, no matter how talented.

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