Paul F. Bikle
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Paul F. Bikle, Director of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility from September 1959 until May 1971, has been associated with major aeronautical research programs, including the highly successfull rocket-powered X-15 and the wingless lifting bodies, that pioneered technology later employed to build and fly space shuttles.

Bikle was born June 5, 1916, in Wilkensburg, Pennsylvania Before graduating from the University of Detroit with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering in 1939, Bikle's activity in the student chapter of the Institute of the Aeronautical Seienees and the school flying and gliding club led to flight instruction and qualification for a C.A.A. pilot's license.

His career with the Air Force began in 1940 when he was appointed an aeronautical engineer at Wright Field. In 1944 he was named Chief of the Aerodynamies Branch in the Flight Test Division there. While working closely with other government agencies in establishing the first flying qualities specifications for aircraft he also wrote AAF Technical Report 50693 "Flight Test Methods," which was used as a standard manual for conducting flight tests for more than five years. During the war years he was involved in more than 30 test projects and flew over 1,200 hours as an engineering observer.

In 1947, Bikle was appointed Chief of the Performance Engineering Branch and directed tests of the XB-43, the first U.S. jet bomber; the XC-99, and the F-86A. With the transfer of this part of the flight test mission to the newly formed Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards, he advanced to Assistant Chief of the Flight Test Engineering Laboratory in 1951.

Author of more than 40 technical publications, Bikle also was an avid soaring enthusiast. In 1961 he established two world soaring records during a flight near Lancaster, California and was selected for the FAI, 1963, Lilienthal Medal.

In July, 1962, he was awarded the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership. NASA cited him for his part in directing the successful X-15 Flight Operations and Research Activities. Bikle died in January 1991.