Robert Aitken "Bob" Rushworth (October 9, 1924 – March 17, 1993), (Maj Gen, USAF), was an American World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War pilot, mechanical and aeronautical engineer, and United States Air Force test pilot for the North American X-15 program.


Early life and educationEdit

Rushworth was born in Madison, Maine on October 9, 1924. He graduated from Madison Memorial High School in 1942. After attending Hebron Academy from which he graduated in June 1943, and joining the United States Army Air Forces, he studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, receiving a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1951. He also received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology in 1954. In 1967 he graduated from the National War College in Washington D.C.[1]

Flight experienceEdit

In 1944 Rushworth earned his pilot wings. He flew C-47 Skytrains and C-46s as a transport pilot in World War II, as well as F-80Cs, F-101 Voodoos, TF-102s, F-104 Starfighters, F-105 Thunderchiefs, F-106 Delta Darts, and F-4 Phantom IIs. During Korean War, Rushworth served as a F-80C Shooting Star pilot with the 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Dow Air Force Base.

Following his graduation from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology in 1954, Rushworth stayed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Among his duties was to serve at the Directorate of Flight and All-Weather Testing. There he specialized in the development and flight testing of experimental automatic flight control systems. He graduated from the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School in 1957, and was selected for the X-15 program in 1958. He made his first flight on November 4, 1960. Over the next six years, he made 34 flights in the X-15, the most of any pilot. This included a flight to an altitude of 285,000 feet, made on June 27, 1963. This flight above 50 miles qualified Rushworth for Astronaut Wings, though he would have attained that honor sooner had the USAF Man In Space Soonest project proceeded according to plan.

On a later X-15 flight, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for successfully landing a North American X-15 after its nose wheel extended while flying at nearly Mach 5. He made his final X-15 flight on July 1, 1966, then returned to regular Air Force duties. These included a tour in Vietnam as an F-4 Phantom II pilot, flying 189 combat missions. He also served as the Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and as the Commander of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

At the time of his retirement as a Major General, he was Vice Commander, Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Rushworth was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and in 1975 received the SETP's James H. Doolittle Award for "outstanding accomplishment in technical management or engineering achievement in aerospace technology". Rushworth retired on June 1, 1981.

He is rated a Command Pilot Astronaut and has more than 6,500 flying hours in more than 50 different types of aircraft.[2]


He died of heart attack in Camarillo, California on March 17, 1993, at the age of 68.

Awards and honorsEdit



  • Thompson, Milton O. (1992) At The Edge Of Space: The X-15 Flight Program, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London. ISBN 1-56098-107-5

External linksEdit

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