On Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, the campus Aviation History Program hosted this month’s presentation entitled “Edwards Air Force Base and the Air Force Flight Test Center”, presented by Colonel Charlie Bock, USAF, Retired. This event had a great turnout rate and filled 90 percent of the DLC, accommodating members of the community, faculty, and students that showed interest or were thirsty for extra credit.
The guest speaker, Colonel Bock, received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Purdue University where he then commissioned into the United States Air Force (USAF). Upon commissioning, he attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB in the year of 1954, class 54-A. He then became an experimental flight test pilot working in the Flight Test Operations Division.
Later, in 1962, he attended the USAF Research Pilot School and upon completion returned to Edwards AFB to continue being an experimental test pilot. Over the span of 19 years at Edwards AFB, he accumulated over 10,000 flight hours in more than 100 different aircraft. Among those 100 different aircraft were the legendary SR-71 Blackbird, the B-52 which carried the X-15 to its altitude drop point, the B-50 which carried the X-2 to its altitude drop point, and the modern day B-1 bomber.
In addition to his many accomplishments and flights, he met many famously acclaimed people and on some occasions got to fly with them, such as Chuck Yeager and Senator Goldwater. To this day, he continues to fly his own experimental kit airplane.
Throughout the presentation, Colonel Bock recollected his test flying days and the numerous experiences that he encountered over the years. Although he could have gone on for hours, the presentation lasted an hour and reminded the audience how a test pilot’s life includes many risks and dangers at all times while enjoying the thrill of testing these aircraft. The courage and bravery these test pilots possess help advance our aviation technology every day and at the same time serves to protect our country.
After the presentation concluded, student Kevin Romeyn expressed that “the Colonel is a very experienced man – especially when it comes to the skies – and to me is a hall of famer. He is a very inspirational figure to any aviator and especially any ROTC student on campus that dreams to become a pilot, such as myself. This presentation strongly boosted my morale and aspirations to become an Air Force officer and pilot.”