EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE (CNS) – Funeral plans were pending today for William Harvey Dana, an aeronautical engineer and test pilot who soared to the fringe of space in the X-15 rocket plane — one of more than 60 different aircraft he flew in more than four decades as an aviator at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.
The Pasadena-born Dana, who was 83, died Tuesday in Phoenix, said research center spokesman Kevin Rohrer. Funeral information has not been announced.
Rohrer said a memorial service was being discussed for staff at the Armstrong Flight Research Center, where Dana “was a very, very well-liked individual. He touched many people’s lives.”
Dana logged more than 8,000 hours of flight time in everything from sailplanes and helicopters to the hypersonic X-15, in which he flew at 3,897 mph and reached an altitude of nearly 59 miles, according to NASA.
In 1986, Dana was appointed the research center’s chief pilot, overseeing the recruiting and training of other pilots. He retired from flying in 1993 to become the center’s chief engineer.
“In this position, he oversaw all of the center’s research project and was responsible for flight safety,” the statement continued.
Dana retired from the civil service in 1998 but returned to the center as a contract employee to write “analytical histories of various programs and to evaluate lessons learned,” according to NASA. During a period of budget cuts, he worked without a salary at the center’s history office.
NASA honored Dana with civilian astronaut wings in 2003 for two of his X- 15 flights, both of which exceeded 50 miles in altitude.
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