William F. "Bill" Brockett is a research pilot at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. He was NASA's senior pilot of the modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on the final ferry mission that delivered the shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles in September 2012. He is the lead pilot for the NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory, and also pilots the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP and the Gulfstream G-III aircraft. He previously flew the Beech T-34 Turbo Mentor and Super KingAir, the McDonnell Douglas F-18, the Lear 24 and the YO-3A Quiet Star aircraft at Dryden. He has amassed more than 16,700 hours of flight time during a more than 45-year flying career.
Brockett transferred to Dryden in December 1998 from NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., where he had been a NASA pilot for more than 10 years.
At Ames he commanded a variety of scientific research missions on the DC-8 Flying Laboratory, was the lead pilot of the C-130B Earth Survey aircraft and the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a modified civil version of the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter that carried a 36-inch telescope and was the predecessor to the SOFIA. He served as assistant chief pilot for the Airborne Science Program and advised both NASA management and program scientists on operational issues. In addition he flew T-38, Lear Jet 24, Lockheed YO-3 and Beech King Air aircraft to support other NASA programs.
Prior to employment with NASA, Brockett was as an airline pilot from 1977 to 1987. He flew Boeing 727s for Pan American World Airways and flew the L-382 Hercules and DC-8 for Transamerica Airlines, flying a variety of special projects worldwide, including oil and mining company support in remote areas and serving as a check pilot.
Brockett served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1973 to 1996, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He flew C-141s worldwide for the 349th Military Airlift Wing from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. His service included 10 months on active duty flying airlift missions to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. While on prior active duty in the Air Force, he flew both the C-141 and the C-130 transport aircraft including 507 combat sorties in Vietnam.
A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a degree in international affairs, Brockett had previously earned parachutist wings from the U.S. Army's "jump school" at Fort Benning, Ga. He subsequently completed undergraduate pilot training at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and additional Air Force training for airlift, airdrop, tactical short field operations and nuclear weapon transport operations. He holds airline transport pilot ratings in the B-747, DC-8, L-382, L-300, Learjet 24, Ce-500 and G1159. He also holds commercial pilot privileges for single-engine land and sea aircraft and a flight engineer's certificate for turbojet-powered aircraft.