John B. McKay 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. His peak altitude was 295,600 feet, and his highest speed was 3863 mph (Mach 5.64).
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.
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 wrote several technical papers, and was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
He died on April 27, 1975.