Fulton Jr.
Fitzhugh "Fitz" L. Fulton Jr.

Fitzhugh "Fitz" L.Fulton Jr. (1925 - )

"Fitz" Fulton took his first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-motor in his hometown of Blakely, Georgia, worked part-time at the Columbus, Georgia, airport while in high school, and soloed at 17 in a J-3 Cub. He attended Auburn University and joined the Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet, earning his commission and pilot wings in 1944. Fulton trained in the B-24 Liberator and the B-29 Superfortress, but World War II ended before he entered combat. He made the transition to transport aircraft, and in 1948, participated in the Berlin Airlift, flying 225 missions in the C-54 Skymaster. Assigned to the 13th Bomb Squadron, Korea, he flew 55 night combat missions in the B-26 Invader. Fulton completed the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California, in 1952 and flew the B-29 and B-50 Superfortress "motherships" used to launch the X-I and X-2 rocket planes. He tested many other bomber, transport, and fighter aircraft, including the B-58 Hustler. In 1962, Fulton flew a B-58 with a 5,000 kilogram payload to an altitude of 85,360 feet, breaking the record held by a Soviet pilot. He won the Harmon International Aviation Trophy for "Outstanding Individual Achievement" that year; this record remains unchallenged as of May, 1995.

Fulton retired from the USAF in 1966 and joined NASA at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB. As a research pilot, he tested the triple sonic XB-70 Valkyrie and flew the B-52 Stratofortress aircraft used to launch the X -16 and experimental lifting bodies. During the mid 1970’s, Fulton continued to expand the limits of aeronautical knowledge, flying the YF-12 Blackbird to speeds and altitudes exceeding 2,000 mph and 80,000 feet. He was project pilot for the Boeing 747 used for space shuttle approach and landing tests, and flew all five 747 flights in which the shuttle proof-of-concept vehicle was launched from the top of the aircraft. Retiring from NASA in 1986, he continued to work as a flight test consultant. Awards and recognitions: Air Medal (5), Distinguished Flying Cross (7), NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2), Arthur Godfrey Aviation Trophy, Ivan C. Kincheloe Trophy, Harmon International Aviation Trophy, Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and Outstanding Aviator in 1989 and again in 1991 by the USAF Air Command and Staff School.

Fitzhugh "Fitz" Fulton was enshrined into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.