Richard E. Gray was a research pilot at NASA's Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility — now the Dryden Flight Research Center — at Edwards, Calif., from 1981 to 1982. Among flight research projects and aircraft he flew were the F-14 Aileron Rudder Interconnect project, the AD-1 Oblique Wing research aircraft, and the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire project. He also flew the F-104, T-37, and F-15 airplanes.
Gray was fatally injured in the crash of a T-37 aircraft while on a pilot proficiency flight on Nov. 8, 1982.
Gray had been an aerospace research pilot at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, from 1978 until he transferred to Dryden.
While at Johnson, he was chief project pilot on the WB-57F high-altitude research aircraft and served as the prime chase pilot in the T-38 aircraft for video documentation of the landing portion of space shuttle orbital flight tests.
Before becoming a NASA pilot, Gray had served as a naval aviator. He joined the U.S. Navy in July 1969 and earned his wings in January 1971. He was assigned to fly F-4 Phantoms at Naval Air Station Miramar, San Diego. He flew 48 combat missions in F-4s over Vietnam while assigned to squadron VF-111 aboard the USS Coral Sea in 1972.
After a second sea deployment in 1973, Gray was assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-4 at Naval Air Station Pt. Mugu, Calif, as a project pilot on various operational test and evaluation programs. He served as chief test director for the AIM-7F Sparrow missile in 1975-76 before being assigned as an F-14A project pilot on the Air Combat Evaluation/Intercept Missile Evaluation program. Gray was also the chief test director for the operational test and evaluation of the television sight unit and the dual-seat visual-target-acquisition system in the F-14A. Prior to his retirement from active military duty, he returned to Miramar as an F-14A pilot for a short tour of duty in 1978.
Supported by a scholarship from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Gray earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from San Jose State University in 1969. Gray became a member of the test pilots group in the mid-1970s and served on its board of directors as Southwest Section Technical Adviser in 1981-1982.
March 2010 Rev.