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Research pilot Mark Stucky Research pilot Mark Stucky

Photo Number: EC96-43412-1
Photo Date: February 15, 1996

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Mark P. "Forger" Stucky was an aerospace research test pilot at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center,Edwards, Calif., until September 3, 1999, when he left Dryden for employment with a commercial airline. Stucky transferred to Dryden in February 1996 from NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. He was assigned as a pilot on various flight test models of the F-18 and F-16 aircraft as well as the King Air. He also was the project pilot in the Eclipse project, which involved towing a QF-106 behind a C-141 to test a method of launching spacecraft. When he joined Dryden, Stucky had logged over 4,000 flight hours in over forty different models of aircraft varying from the U-2 spyplane to the Goodyear Blimp.

Stucky was born Nov. 9, 1958, in Minneapolis, MN, but considers Salina, Kansas to be his hometown. Stucky's aviation career began in 1974 when he started hang gliding off the Kansas flint hills at age 15. He attended Kansas State University where he received a Blue Key scholarship for an extra-curricular design project involving hang gliding. Stucky graduated from KSU in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Science.

After earning his degree, Stucky joined the United States Marine Corps where he flew the F-4 Phantom and later the F/A-18 Hornet. During his tenure in the Marines, Stucky was selected forand graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), the Marine Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, and the USAF Test Pilot School.

Stucky served as a test pilot at Naval Air Station Pt. Mugu and Naval Weapons Center China Lake, California, flying both operational and developmental test flights in the F-4 and all models of the F/A-18. He was actively involved in software development in the Hornet as well as testing of the Night Attack variants. Stucky was temporarily assigned to Marine forces for several weeks during Operation Desert Shield/Storm and flew several combat missions during the initial air campaign.

Following his return from the Persian Gulf, Stucky completed his postgraduate study with the University of Tennessee and was awarded a Masters of Science degree in Aviation Systems.

Always interested in aerospace, Stucky left the Marine Corps in 1993 to accept a job as a NASA research pilot job with NASA JSC. At JSC, Stucky served as an aerospace research pilot with primary duties as an instructor pilot for NASA Space Shuttle astronauts in the T-38 and the highly modified Gulfstream-II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).

One of Stucky's favorite projects while at Dryden was the Eclipse, which he described as "a rewarding project." His experence as a young hang glider pilot was put to use during a sonic boom test project. The measurements required an aircraft that was quiet and free of electromagnetic interference. Initially, Dryden's YO-3A was considered, but Stucky suggested to Jim Murray and Ed Haering the use of a paraglider. This flew at only 15 miles per hour, and had no electrical system to interfere with the data collection. The paraglider was towed well above Rogers Dry Lake, with Stucky as the pilot. Instrumenting the aircraft was also simple--the battery-powered package was Velcroed to Stucky's thigh.

Keywords: Flight Research Pilots

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