Schneider walks the Walk
Oct 21, 2005
Many know him as "Fast Eddie," the whiz kid NASA test pilot who was the youngest-ever graduate of the U.S. Navy's Test Pilot School.
Image Right: Former Dryden research pilot Ed Schneider signs autographs for young aviation enthusiasts at the City of Lancaster Aerospace Walk of Honor. Schneider was one of five 2005 inductees, who also included former Edwards Air Force Base commander Maj. Gen. Wilbert D. "Doug" Pearson (USAF-Ret.). NASA Photo by Jim Ross
But it was a lot more than youthful charisma that earned Edward T. Schneider his slot on the City of Lancaster Aerospace Walk of Honor. It was a long list of accomplishments as test pilot, instructor and researcher in a career in which he logged more than 7,800 hours in 87 types of aircraft.
In ceremonies held Sept. 24, Schneider joined Lt. Col. John "Jack" Allavie (USAF-Ret.), Richard G. "Dick" Thomas, Maj. Gen. Wilbert D. "Doug" Pearson (USAF-Ret.) and Wallace A. "Wally" Lien (1915-1994) to make up the 2005 class of inductees. This year marked the city's 16th annual Walk of Honor event.
Image Left: Former Dryden research pilot Ed Schneider and his wife Ginger flank the latest honor bestowed on "Fast Eddie" - Schneider's plaque on the City of Lancaster Aerospace Walk of Honor. NASA Photo by Jim Ross
"It's great to be honored in this manner and to return to a city where my family spent the happiest years of our lives," Schneider said in remarks to the audience gathered at Lancaster's Boeing Plaza for the induction ceremony. And he was quick to acknowledge those who helped him achieve the honor.
"Without the support of all the people at Dryden, especially the mechanics and technicians, I wouldn't be standing here today."
Schneider was the first pilot in history to conduct multi-axis thrust-vectored flight, in NASA's F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle.
A U.S. Naval officer from 1968 to 1983, Schneider graduated in 1973 from the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md., the youngest graduate in the institution's history. He was an engineering test pilot on 11 naval research programs, a test pilot school instructor and the F-4 program manager and senior test pilot at the Naval Aviation Depot, North Island, Calif.
He joined NASA in 1983 as Dryden's project pilot, flying in the SR-71 and F-104 high-speed research programs, with the F-18 systems research aircraft, the B-52 launch aircraft, the NASA Learjet and others, eventually becoming chief test pilot. In 2000 Schneider took a position as T-38 instructor and WB-57F research pilot at Johnson Space Center, Houston, performing Earth sciences and classified missions. He retired in 2004.
Schneider is a Fellow and Past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and recipient of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Chanute Flight Award, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. He is the youngest pilot to be inducted into the James B. Taylor Jr. Memorial Carrier Test Pilots Hall of Honor in Charleston, S.C.
If he seemed destined for the path that led him to the Walk of Honor, perhaps it was because he was clear from early stages of his career on what he wanted to achieve.
As a Navy test pilot, "I had read Tom Wolfe's book, 'The Right Stuff,' and dreamed of coming to Edwards to work with some of the best people in the business," he said following the Walk of Honor ceremonies.
"It's a real privilege to be honored alongside those people, many of whom were my heroes."
The annual Walk of Honor event is sponsored by the City of Lancaster. Financial support is provided by The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Wells Fargo Bank, Verizon Communications, Clear Channel Broadcasting Worldwide, High Desert Broadcasting, High Desert Medical Group, Waste Management Inc. and Southern California Edison.
Peter Merlin of the Dryden History Office contributed to this article.
X-Press Assistant Editor