Thomas C. McMurtry brought a distinguished career as a research pilot and administrator to a close on June 3, 1999, when he retired from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., after 32 years of service. Most recently, McMurtry was Associate Director for Operations at NASA Dryden from July 27, 1998, and also served as Dryden's acting Chief Engineer from February, 1999 until his retirement.
Before he became Associate Director for Operations, McMurtry was Dryden's Director for Flight Operations, a position he had held since 1986. As Director, he managed the Avionics, Operations Engineering, Flight Crew, Quality Inspection, Aircraft Maintenance and Modification, and the Shuttle and Flight Operations Support Branches. He has been a research pilot at Dryden since joining NASA in 1967 and was Dryden's Chief Pilot before becoming Director for Flight Operations.
Along with being Associate Director for Operations at Dryden, McMurtry was a co-project pilot on the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Since joining NASA, McMurtry had been project pilot for the AD-1 Oblique Wing program, the F-15 Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC) project, the KC-135 Winglets project and the F-8 Supercritical Wing program for which he received NASA's Exceptional Service Medal.
In 1982, McMurtry received the Iven C. Kincheloe Award from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots for his contributions as project pilot on the AD-1 Oblique Wing program. In 1998 he was named as one of the honorees of the Lancaster, Calif., ninth Aerospace Walk of Honor ceremonies. In 1999 he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
McMurtry was also co-project pilot on the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire program, and on several remotely piloted research vehicle programs such as the FAA/NASA 720 Controlled Impact Demonstration and the sub-scale F-15 spin research project. On November 26, 1975, the X-24B lifting body dropped from the sky for the last time, piloted on this 36th flight by McMurtry. He also co-piloted the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as it transported the prototype Shuttle Enterprise on its first launch on August 12, 1977.
Born in Crawfordsville, Ind., on June 4, l935, McMurtry attended elementary school in Rockville, Ind., and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in June 1957.
A former U.S. Navy pilot and graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md., McMurtry was a consultant for Lockheed Corporation before joining NASA in 1967.
Since becoming a pilot in 1958, McMurtry logged more than 11,000 hours of flying time. Besides the aircraft listed above, he has flown the U-2, the triple-sonic YF-12C, and the F-104.