3/27/2007 - EDWARDS AFB, CA - Two new research test pilots,
Kelly Latimer and Nils Larson, have joined the Flight Crew Branch
at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force
Base. Latimer and Larson come to the NASA center after extensive
test and operational flying careers in the U.S. Air Force.
Latimer is the first female research test pilot to be employed
by NASA Dryden in its 60-year history. Her first association
with NASA was while attending graduate school at George Washington
University. Her studies included work with the Joint Institute
for the Advancement of Flight Sciences at NASA's Langley Research
Center, Hampton, Va.
As an Air Force C-141 transport pilot, Latimer participated
in the Eclipse project, a Kelly Space and Technology Inc., Air
Force and NASA Dryden demonstration of a towed reusable launch
vehicle concept. The C-141 towed a QF-106 with a NASA pilot
onboard to validate the concept in the late 1990s.
She also flew an Air Force C-17 during a 2005 study at NASA
Dryden to reduce aircraft noise impacts. A team of California
Polytechnic State University students and Northrop Grumman personnel
were stationed on Rogers Dry Lake located at Edwards Air Force
Base to record the noise footprint of the aircraft as it made
various landing approaches to Edwards' runway.
"Since the Eclipse project, I have looked for opportunities
to work at Dryden," Latimer said. "I am excited to
be involved in the forward-looking research and science investigations
conducted by NASA."
Latimer retired from the U.S. Air Force earlier this year with
the rank of lieutenant colonel. While on active duty, she attended
the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards, graduating in class
As a NASA research pilot at Dryden, she will fly a variety
of research and support aircraft, including the T-38, B-747,
T-34, G-III, C-17 and NASA's Ikhana, a Predator B adapted for
civil research missions.
Nils Larson grew up in a family that valued science and he
has always wanted to conduct scientific research. He feels his
new position with NASA may help him accomplish that goal.
Larson, who recently retired as an Air Force lieutenant colonel,
has a varied flight career. He graduated from Air Force Test
Pilot School in class 95A. He has been an instructor pilot in
a number of military aircraft, including the T-37, T-38, F-18,
T-2, RU-38B, U-2, U6-A Beaver and Schweizer X-26 sailplane.
He commanded the U-2 operations for the Warner Robins Air Logistics
Center's Detachment 2 located in Palmdale, Calif. This qualification
will aid in his transition to NASA's ER-2 aircraft.
In addition to the ER-2, Larson will fly research missions
in F-18s and F-15s and fly safety chase in the T-38 at NASA
Larson realizes that he and Latimer are now working at the
same NASA center where some of their childhood heroes, such
as Neil Armstrong, Fitzhugh Fulton and Bill Dana, flew research
missions and made aerospace history.
"Friends have told me that I am living a dream,"
Source: NASA Dryden Press Release