Search Dryden



Text Size

William H. "Bill" Dana - Smithsonian Speech
Charles A. Lindbergh Lecture Series

NASA research pilot and engineer William H. "Bill" Dana spoke at the National Air and Space Museum on May 21, 1998 as part of the Smithsonian Institution's Charles A. Lindbergh Lecture series. The speech discussed the lessons learned and historic roles of the X-15 and Lifting Body programs at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located in California's remote Mojave Desert at Edwards, CA.

William H. Dana with X-15
William H. "Bill" Dana with the X-15

Dana began his distinguished career at Dryden Flight Research Center on October 1, 1958. This was the same day that NASA went into operation, and he became NASA's first employee. Dana was involved with the X-15 from his first day, initially as an engineer, then as a chase pilot, and finally as a project pilot. He made sixteen flights in the X-15, with two of them above 50 miles. Dana was also the last pilot to fly an X-15, making the program's 199th flight on October 24, 1968.

Dana then transferred to the lifting body program. He had earlier flown in the light weight M2-F1 vehicle. Between 1969 and 1975, Dana flew the HL-10, the M2-F3, and the X-24B. He made the highest flight in a lifting body, reaching 90,303 feet in the HL-10, and the last powered lifting body flight, in the X-24B.

Dana continued as a research pilot after the end of the lifting body program, flying such aircraft as the F-15, F-16, YF-12, and the X-29. He then served as Chief Engineer at Dryden, before retiring. He has continued to work at Dryden, as a contractor in the History Office.

X-15 Lessons Learned The Lifting Bodies