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AFRC Center Director - David D. McBride

David D. McBride

Former Armstrong Center Director

David D. McBride was director of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, from January 4, 2010, until his retirement from NASA on June 30, 2022. He served as acting director from April 2009 to January 2010.

During McBride’s tenure as director, the center achieved:

  • Full operational capability with the highly modified Boeing 747SP Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), including global operations
  • Completed flight evaluation of the X-48B/C hybrid wing body experimental aircraft
  • Demonstrated the NASA Orion spacecraft’s pad and launch abort systems
  • Safely conducted global operations for Earth science missions with a diverse fleet of aircraft
  • Development of the X-57 Maxwell, NASA’s all-electric aircraft
  • Development of the X-59, NASA’s quiet supersonic aircraft at the center of the agency’s Quesst mission


McBride’s management assignments at NASA Armstrong also included serving as deputy center director and associate director for Programs and Projects, where he oversaw the complete portfolio of center projects supporting exploration, science, and aeronautics.

He also was program manager for NASA’s Flight Research Program. The program resulted in expanded aerospace knowledge and capabilities with activities that included the record-breaking flight of the solar-powered Helios aircraft to an altitude of more than 96,000 feet, flight of the X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing flight research project and the flight testing of a revolutionary Intelligent Flight Control System, which demonstrated adaptive neural network flight control systems.

McBride’s prior technical assignments included serving as chief engineer for the X-33 Extended Test Range and as lead flight systems engineer for the multinational X-31 and X‑29 experimental flight research programs, as well as for Armstrong’s F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft.

He worked in the private sector from 1993 to 1998, serving as executive vice president and chief information officer of McBride and Associates Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


McBride began his NASA career as a cooperative education student in 1982, specializing in digital flight control systems analysis. He earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1985 from the University of New Mexico and an Executive Master of Business Administration in 1998 from the University of New Mexico.